It seems, unfortunately, that the prevailing question in society surrounds the lack of good men. Since Footloose and the release of Bonnie Tyler’s song, “Holding Out for a Hero,” it’s not hard to see that our society lacks a particular understanding of what a ‘good man’ actually is. Not to mention that there have been a bunch of little boys raised by little boys in our current society that think they’re men when all they really are are children who can shave—most of whom don’t even do that well.
Our society needs good men. However, and it has to be said, this is not in place of women. Given the type of rhetoric that exists in our society with terms like “toxic masculinity,” and what seems like a general attack on manhood, maybe it’s time we step back and look at what a good man should be to counterpunch these narratives.
There’s a complementarianism that must exist between the sexes for the balance of society, yet men are the ones who are given the responsibility to lead in that society. A couple of examples can help influence the idea of “good men” in culture, namely the United States Army’s core values and the biblical character of Boaz.
THE ARMY’S CORE VALUES AND MANHOOD
The Army’s core values can be summed up with the acronym: LDRSHIP. Oddly enough, the exact responsibility for men. By looking at the virtues of the Army’s core values, we’ll start to better understand what it means to be a good man. These values should be characteristics that define good men and will be built upon in the next section when discussing Boaz.
Loyalty is a matter of devotion. What you are loyal to, you are devoted to. For husbands and dads, our first loyalty has to be to our family. We have a rule in our family: protect publicly; criticize privately. When situations arise that are tricky, regardless of what they are we are loyal to the family — then, if needed, we correct what’s wrong privately.
It also means taking a cue from “the Greatest Generation” and loving loyally. Loyalty to the commitments we’ve made, especially our greatest commitment: our wives. Loyally loving our wives means that we are striving to serve her, and our children, each day. This isn’t always easy, but it is required of “good men.” You simply cannot be a good man, if you are not competent enough to love your wife loyally.
We’ve all heard the adage: “If you stand for nothing, you’ll fall for everything.” The book of James even teaches us: “A double-minded man is unstable in all his ways” (James 1:8, KJV). Part of the issue within society is the lack of men with conviction. They’re tossed to and fro by each wind of change and as they do, their morality is tossed about as well. This does not mean just blindly adhering to a conviction, either. As men, it’s imperative we grow intellectually to understand truth and stand firm on its foundation.
Duty is one of the more difficult virtues or values to wrap our heads around, simply because it always feels obligatory. Even though it does seem like an obligation, and a must-do, being a “good man” is to do what is necessary and right.
We have to think of this in terms of responsibility, and we must meet these responsibilities in order to glorify God, serve our wives, and train our children. As husbands and fathers, we are endowed with a sacred vocation by our Creator to lead our families. God has blessed us with the gift of being responsible to lead, to love, to serve, and to train our families.
To be derelict in these duties is to fail our sacred vocation. We cannot be good men if we are not upholding our duty which was endowed to us by our Creator. However, should we fail, there’s an opportunity for us to experience redemption, through repentance, and the grace of God.
“R-E-S-P-vee-T,” as Michael Scott would say. And, truthfully, too often the answer to Rodney Dangerfield’s, “You know who don’t get no respect?” question is our wives. As good men, we have to be respectable in our actions and our character. And our foremost priority has got to be our spouse. She deserves our respect as a daughter of the King who has entrusted us to lead her.
In education, we always discussed the idea of mutual respect. The simple outpouring of Christ’s command to “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Matt. 22:39, ESV). This value may be the biggest issue facing our society today. The pure lack of respect that we have for one another, for life in general, is abhorrent. Whether it is politics, religion, or even sports, simple disagreements and conversations seem to be a thing of the past. Part of that is due to our inability to hold respect for one another.
Part of our mutual respect, and being a man that respects others, is remembering our creation. When God made man, he made him in His image, which means that every person – everywhere – is made in the image of God. So, disrespect toward a person is disrespect toward an image bearer of God. As good men, we have to be at the forefront of the battle for respect. It starts with us as the model for our families.
This is the virtue that sets the standard between good men and those who aren’t. It is this virtue that is a true marker of a man’s virtue because it means that the man has something greater to live for. This is true for the religious and non-religious among us. Though it does remain true that serving anything other than Christ will always fall short.
We live in a society that is entirely too self-consumed. We’re worried more about “getting ours” than serving others. Social media has compounded this problem as we worry about likes, follows, and influence. Yet, throughout this country’s history, there have been men that have set aside personal aspirations for selfless sacrifice. Specifically during World War II, some of the greatest baseball players in Major League Baseball history hung up their spikes for combat boots and served this country. Some of them cost themselves prodigious records and the clout associated with them for a greater purpose.
There is no better model of selfless sacrifice than the one made by Jesus Christ when he went to the cross and laid down his life for the sins of humanity. There is no better model for selfless sacrifice than Jesus and as fathers and husbands, there’s no better way to love and serve and train our families than by taking the model he set forth and living it – daily.
Honor & Integrity
While the first four values can be exhibited outwardly, honor and integrity are more character virtues. They are aspects of our character that must be honed and developed. In fact, in many ways, honor and integrity encompass living out of the values here.
Honor and integrity are inextricably connected as values. One cannot be a man of honor if he does not have integrity, and one does not have integrity without honor.
Morality is the foundation by which honor and integrity are built. Adherence to this moral compass is what brings honor and integrity to our daily walks. Compromising our morality is where they begin to lose their footing. However, and it must be said as a reminder, we are not the perpetrators of our own morality and must define our morality based upon the moral lawgiver, namely our Creator.
Here is where most men have misunderstood manhood, which has led to the belief that masculinity can be toxic. Too often the bravado that we proclaim our “courage” with is misplaced in our ideas of strength, loud voices, and intimidation.
This is not courage.
Courage is not the lack of fear, nor is it the amount of weight you lift. But instead, it is the ability to do what is right and necessary, in all situations, in spite of fear. This also applies in all situations, not just those that present danger. Good men are men of courage and the world needs more of them. Courage to stand up for those who can’t stand up for themselves; courage to stand firm on their convictions; and courage to stand and fight (if necessary) for their families.
A practical example from Scripture
There’s a beautiful story tucked away in the Old Testament of a man that modeled these virtues. He was honorable, courageous, respectful, loyal, selfless, dutiful, and full of integrity. He was an upright man and ultimately the great-grandfather or King David. His name was Boaz.
You can read all about Boaz in the book of Ruth, a short, four-chapter story that foreshadows the coming Messiah magnificently. Throughout the story, the character of Boaz is on full display. The way that he protects Ruth’s reputation, even though she’s an outsider. The way he provides for her and Naomi. The honorable way he honors the closer relative to redeem Ruth and leads a business. You cannot help but look at the model that Boaz set and think, “that’s a good guy.”
Ultimately, Boaz’s example still falls short of Jesus Christ and Christ is ultimately the model by which good men are grounded. Yet, learning from the character of Boaz can help us as we set out to answer the question, “Where have all the good men gone?” The answer: we’re right here and following Jesus.
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