Growing up, I thought the Marine Corps had the best recruiting commercials out of all the armed services. Maybe that’s why I spent so much time in the Marine Recruiting office in middle school. However, I followed God to Bible College rather than going to the Marine Corps Recruit Depot in San Diego after High School and a year at Junior College. There’s something inspirational, though, in the thought of being the “tip of the spear” and thus saving the world. Something almost unexplainable rises inside of me when I think about the values of the Marine Corps.

But maybe that’s not you. Perhaps God has placed something different in your soul, which initiates vision and life. I think John Elbridge got it right when he noted, “Adventure, with all its requisite danger and wildness, is a deeply spiritual longing written into the soul of man.” Today though, noble manhood has fallen on tough times in many quarters of our culture. As we approach Father’s Day in 2023, the problem is much more exasperated.

If we look at Hollywood, the ideas range from John Wayne to Rambo to dumb dads like Homer Simpson. Sometimes, women don’t even know what to think when on the one hand, a guy is called toxic if he insists on paying for the date, but then on the other, he’s looked at as an overgrown adolescent who can’t commit if he doesn’t offer to pay. Even for men themselves, when does a male become a man, and what does that look like? We can look at our culture and debate. We can compare modern Western civilization to cultures such as the Maasai in Africa, where a boy becomes a man after he goes out on a lion hunt. I would like to propose that we consider what God says on the matter.

The sacred text of Genesis chapters 1 through 2 teach us that God created us in His image as male and female. A beautiful thing about God’s creation is that males and females are equal in God’s image. However, they are also very different and unique in their ways. From here, the journey from merely being a male to being a man is a choice we must make.

The principle of our choice to grow into manhood or remain a mere male can be seen in 1 Corinthians 16:13-14 which states: “Be watchful, stand Firm in the faith, Act Like Men, be strong. 14 Let all that you do be done in love. The combined two verses list in five rapid-fire imperative statements. That middle imperative set the course, “Act like men,” or, as the old King James puts it, “Quit you like men.”

Some modern translations interpret this man’s phrase as “be courageous” to not offend anyone and ensure that ladies know they are included in the warning to stand strong in their faith. While such an application can rightly be made, the literal text does not say, be courageous. In our present-day of confusion, men need to hear the precise and accurate translation and thus receive the original warning. By unpacking these five imperative phrases, we may be able to have at least a goal to shoot for, and the best place to begin may be the middle one again, as it really can serve as a linchpin holding the other pieces together or maybe fleshed out by the other phrases.

On a side note, while the bulk of this post is for the men, I hope our lady friends will continue tracking with us. For women, understanding these verses for men will help all of us navigate a healthy path forward in these confusing times.

Be Manly

The phrase “act like men” is just one word in the original Greek and is used only here in the New Testament. Its usage in Classical Greek and its root in other Biblical references convey the idea of a husband, father, or nobleman like Joseph of Arimathea in Luke 23:50-54. The character of the word here gives the idea of being like a man. In our modern vernacular, we might interpret that as to “be manly,” and of interest, there is no corresponding word for women, to “be womanly.”

The text is an encouragement to men. As ladies need to know there is something special about them as females, men also need similar encouragement and challenge. This is especially true in our day when many of our public school systems, Hollywood, and to social-political groups are clueless at best in knowing, much less celebrating Godly manhood.

Even in sports, journalists referred to the Olympic Half-Pipe Freestyle skier David Wise as living an “Alternative Lifestyle” because he was already in a committed marital relationship when he was 21 and soon after became a father.  David can tear up the slopes with his skill, which he admits comes from God, but he can also rise beyond an adolescent adrenaline junkie to sacrifice for his family and others. He’s got his priorities straight, and the world doesn’t know what to do with him. Wise has a more robust and divine understanding that many in our culture can’t grasp. There is something in this charge to inspire males to push forward in their strength and maturity for the good of others.

Several years ago, I faced a challenging task that put some fear in my belly. Right before I launched into the job, I looked at one of my friends and admitted that I was a bit nervous, to which my friend nodded his head at me and smiled. I then took a breath and replied, “Well, I guess I just need to be a man about it and push forward,” to which my friend repeated his previous stance of an encouraging smile and nod. That’s what I needed at the moment.

Are you willing to jump into the deep end and pursue what it truly means to be the man God created you to be?

Be Watchful

To be watchful or on guard implies that there is something to guard against. What we find from God’s word and history is that, indeed, we are to “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” (1 Peter 5:8)

In the context of 1 Corinthians, the Church was bombarded by false doctrines, divisions, and deviant behavioral practices. Any of these alone, and much more together, can destroy a church community which is exactly what Satan desires. Therefore, Paul encourages the men to pay attention to what is happening and protect the Church. Sometimes the danger is without and physical. Sometimes the threat comes within our hearts through Satanic temptation that, if not recognized, will drag us away from God.

We are to be alert. I remember a hard movie back in the late 80s, Platoon, that vividly illustrates when a soldier, Junior, falls asleep while the platoon halts for a few hours at night, and the enemy gets in close for a firefight. Because the soldier dozed off, disaster came, and an American soldier was killed in the fight.

Sometimes it can be spiritual and emotional. Just before King David committed adultery with Bathsheba, as recorded in 2 Samuel 11:1, we see that “In the spring, at the time when kings go off to war, David sent Joab out with the King’s men and the whole Israelite army. They destroyed the Ammonites and besieged Rabbah. But David remained in Jerusalem.” In other words, David got lazy and then emotionally and spiritually fell asleep on the job of being King. The enemy comes in through frontal physical attacks, pressures from others, and temptations from within. Death and destruction follow when these attacks are not seen, ignored, or minimized.

Are you willing to actively be alert to the dangers that threaten those around you and protect them?

Be Firm

Like the Christians in Corinth, we face numerous attacks, and the warning here is to stand one’s ground rather than give in or give up. I am reminded here of one of King David’s warriors, Shammah, who “took his stand in the middle of the field. He defended it and struck the Philistines down, and the Lord brought about a great victory.” (2 Samuel 23:12) Given impending death, Shammah, determined that he would not be moved even to the point of death. We see similar firmness throughout history. Illustrations of this can be seen in the Native American Cheyenne Dog Soldiers, who would tie a rope around themselves and pin it down to a piece of ground to which they would not surrender, or the men of the Alamo who chose to fight out to the death for what they believed in.

It reminds me of Christian martyrs, like Jon Huss, who would not recant, or other heroes, like the Scottish athlete Eric Liddle, who refused to compete on Sunday in the 1924 Olympics.

Are you willing to find the truth and stand firm on it?

Be Strong

The apostle Paul notes that there is value in building our physical strength. As a man, we want to steward the bodies God has given us. Yet, what Paul is getting at here is more than developing an exercise routine. The strength here is pushing forward despite all set against us, particularly the spiritual realm. The call here is the opposite of giving up or throwing in the towel when things get tough.

It’s interesting that right before the patriarch, Joshua, led the nation of Israel into the promised land, God encouraged him to “Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land; I swore to their ancestors to give them.” (Joshua 1:6) Why would God need to remind this mighty warrior to be strong and courageous? He was probably having second thoughts when staring at the danger about to come against him.

The call here is not to rise and be a Navy Seal, which is impossible for almost every man I know. Instead, it encourages us to be strong in the struggle God has allowed to cross our individual paths today.

Are you willing to take a deep breath, dig deep, and face today’s battle with the strength that God gives?

Be Loving

Ok, we’re not talking about lovey-dovey emotionalism here. Though, if you need to face this daunting venture for your wife, take a deep dive and figure it out. No, this is the sacrificial kind of love that Jesus demonstrated on the Cross for us. Jesus notes that “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” John 15:13.

Part of this decisive choice is to “speak the truth in love,” as is referenced by Paul in Ephesians 4:15. In firmness and strength, we must speak out for what is Biblical and right. This does not mean that we must be jerks about it. We must care about others more than being right and treat everyone with dignity.

To truly love, though, it must be more than positive reactions to others, but the willingness to be proactive in finding ways to love others. A man’s bride comes into play here. I have often heard men bemoan how they don’t feel their wives respect them. I always want to point out that while this may be true, the question is how they love their wives. In Ephesians 5:25, Paul exhorts husbands to love their wives as Christ loved the Church.

And how did Christ love the Church? He gave his life up for her. Jesus gave up his life on the Cross for us, and we must rightly see the connection to our willingness to give to the utmost for our wives. But sometimes, the problem is not in those grand and glorious acts of sacrifice, like jumping in front of a car to protect his bride. Instead, it is often in the daily mundane and little that no one will ever see. In John 13, the night before Jesus went to the Cross, he stooped down and washed his disciple’s feet which was the job of the lowest servant. See that? Jesus demonstrates, proactively, love with the most inferior service. That is the kind of manly love that God calls us to.

Are you willing today to sacrifice your desires and personal agendas to practically love those around you? So, if the answer to any of the questions above is yes, here are some steps forward in the journey of manhood.


First, for the ladies. I hope you will see the men in our lives differently.


-Will you pray for them?

-Will you honor them? Even if things are rocky, what good can you find to celebrate? Even if it is nothing more than the fact that he gets up every morning and goes to do a job that he doesn’t like because the right thing to do is the starting place.

-Will you refuse to join in with the drove of man-bashing jokes and attitudes we often see in television shows, movies, and cyberspace?

-Will you point boys and young men in the right direction and help connect them to other solid men? You would desire that Godly men do the same for you.

-For the single ladies, will you look for a Godly man instead of lowering your standards so you are not alone? Godly men are worth waiting for.


For the men:

  1. Will you Surrender to the Perfect Father? The first step is raising the white flag and giving your life to Jesus Christ. From there, will you take the initiative to grow daily in this relationship with God? The truth is that God is either real or not. If the divine is just a myth, then save your time. On the other hand, if God is true, there is nothing more important. Will you stop playing games with religion and God and make Him the first and foremost priority in your lives? Will you push ahead and bring those you love along with you hard after God?


  1. Will you Settle with your earthly father or lack thereof? As I wrote in my book, Confession, my history in this realm was challenging. But to go forward, we must let those who have done us wrong in any way off the hook. After all, did not the perfect God grant us grace?


  1. Will you Seek Restoration with anyone you have wronged? This may not be possible in some cases. Yet Paul states, “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” (Romans 12:18). This is something we cannot force upon another, but will you choose to do what you can to restore a relationship that is fractured by something on your end?


  1. Will you Secure a Band of Brothers? In September of 2001, HBO aired a miniseries about soldiers in WWII called Band of Brothers, which depicted the historical journey of men in the 101st Airborne. The title, Band of Brothers, goes much further back to a play by William Shakespeare about King Henry the 5th of England. On the morning of a significant historical battle with France, King Henry concludes with the words, “We few, we happy few, we band of brothers; For he today that sheds his blood with me Shall be my brother; be he ne’er so vile, This day shall gentle his condition: And gentlemen in England now a-bed Shall think themselves accursed they were not here, And hold their manhood’s cheap whiles any speaks That fought with us upon Saint Crispin’s day.” The King rose to encourage his men and indicated that while they may be fearful, at the end of everything, those who were left in England would feel a loss that they were not with this band of brothers on this historic day. We all need this, and the ancient King Solomon noted, “Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” (Ecclesiastes 4:12) Will you be willing to swallow your pride and join a group of men at your Church so that you can invest in the lives of each other?


  1. Will you Select some mentors who have gone before you? No one may readily come to mind here, and that’s ok. But will you be willing to seek one you? This can be older men in a local church. If nothing else, it can be by bathing in the biographies of men in history. A starting place might be the life of King David, who was both a warrior and a worship hymn writer. He was not perfect. But at the end of the day, the Bible refers to him as a man after God’s own heart. The Historical narrative of David can be found in the Old Testament books of 1 Samuel 15 through 1 Kings’ Chapter 2 as well as 1 Chronicles chapters 11 through Chapter 29.


  1. Will you Share manhood with those coming behind you? This can be a long and drawn-out discipleship process that every man needs. It can also be as simple as painting a vision of what can be for boys and young men. Often when concluding a talk with a young boy in our Church, I’ll often finish with something like, “Hey, instead of just giving each other a High Five, let’s shake hands like men.” That’s it for the moment. Just conveying in their impressionable heart and mind that there is something ahead of them called manhood that they can aspire to be a part of someday. After all, that is what God created them for.


That is what we need this Father’s Day. That is what women and girls, and little boys need today. That is what we need today. Will you do it? Will you take a choice to rise and be a man of God?

Will you take the challenge of the hymn writer William Pierson Merrill, who in 1911 penned the words of:

  1. Rise up, O men of God! Have done with lesser things. Give heart and mind and soul, and strength to serve the King of kings.


  1. Rise up, O men of God! The kingdom tarries long. Bring in the day of brotherhood and end the night of wrong.


  1. Rise up, O men of God! The Church for you doth wait, her strength unequal to her task; rise up, and make her great!


  1. Lift high the Cross of Christ! Tread where his feet have trod. As brothers of the Son of Man, rise up, O men of God!


Will you rise today, men?



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