With the image of my 23 year-old best friend sat in his pants, playing Call of Duty and wallowing in a pit of dominoes boxes and dirty washing burnt into my retinas, I bid farewell to three years at university. Time to take my place as a man…ish, probably still a boy to be honest, maybe something like a young man sounds better.
More and more guys are finding themselves in an adolescent limbo, locked in this innate search for identity and social standing. At what point do you reach the ultimate goal of manhood? I’m fairly sure (beyond reasonable doubt) that my dad is a man. He can fix pretty much anything, owns a house, has a good career, he has the full package deal. Is that how a man is defined, or does it happen earlier? Are there any guidelines for British teenagers, or any rites of passage?
Until the age of 15 in the UK you are legally considered a child. At 16 it is a different story. Amongst many other things you can; have sex, leave home, get a job and get a moped. At 17, you can upgrade to a car. Then you hit a real milestone. At 18, the door is open to tattoos, smoking, drinking, gambling and voting. At 18, you are pretty much free to do as you please. But what kind of message does this send? Why are we as a nation surprised that a generation of young guys are growing up thinking that drinking, casual sex, smoking and gambling are what manhood is all about. Then this strange and very British phenomenon occurs. We isolate the younger generation and distance ourselves from them, bury our heads in the sand and say that (more in hope than expectation) “they will grow out of it”.
At Something More we believe that we have been offered an alternate set of guidelines through the life of Jesus. Jesus wasn’t a self-obsessed gym monkey and He wasn’t a womaniser. Jesus was a man, a real man. He always placed the needs of others above His own and lived with authority and kindness. He lived a life of unwavering self-discipline, certain of his identity and angered by injustice.
Harsh banter comes easily, but what would the world look like if it was replaced with encouragement? Taking a drunk girl home might end your dry-spell, but seeing her home safe and then leaving might end her cycle of constant self-deprecation. If you want to know if you can call yourself a man, ask yourself this: what character-traits do I share with Jesus? If you can’t find any then you might be a male of adult age, but you can be sure that your search for manhood is still ongoing.