How to Teach Your Son to Be “The Man!”

On Guard!

When teaching your boys, they respond far better to instructions and guidelines, accompanied by consistent modeling, than they do to back-door reprimands because they are not measuring up to the expectation you have of what a man should be.  I encourage you to proactively show them how to achieve what you expect, and then guide them lovingly when they fail to meet that expectation, because they will.

So how do I explain to them what I expect a man to be, you say?  How do I set a target for them to achieve?  How do I teach them to become “The Man!” when it’s time?

If you read my last post, you’d realize I’m making a play on words – or at least connotation – with the concept of being “The Man!”  Being a man, and leading your family, has little to do with achievement and arrogance.  Much of the men in our society are trying so hard to be that version of the colloquialism, that they completely miss what society needs most from them as a man.

So what makes a man… or continuing with the idea, what does it take to be “The Man!” in the lives of those around them …?

Is manhood simply a title you are given when you reach a certain age? Is that it? Or does it have to do with things that you have, or can accomplish? is there more to it than that? My friend David Welch tells me that The Lakota Tribe used a piercing ritual, during their Sun Dance, for passing a young man on to manhood if he was marked to be a medicine man. The Cherokee Tribe, of which he belongs, used what is called a Vision Quest, where a young man would have to survive alone in the wilderness for a period of days before becoming a man. So, does every boy have to be pierced, or survive the wild on his own, in order to become a man?

It is shameful, but modern american society uses sex as a marker of manhood… more and more what I see are ’26-year-old boys’ that were deceived that sex was the passage they were looking for, only to find out that the insatiable craving that was awakened within them is undermining the very things manhood is built upon.  No, sex can’t be it.

When looking for an appropriate definition for what it means to be a man, Robert Lewis tried to find resources and asked many people both in and outside of the church what it meant to be one. The process he said, was like “trying to nail Jell-O to the wall!” It seems that much of our society has not only their own version of what it means to be a man, but for many intents and purposes (yes, purposes) manhood has been downplayed, or ridiculed into a place where few understand what it really means to be a man, if they want to achieve it at all.

 (The link attached to this image will take you to so that you can purchase this book, if you’d like… it will also help support the blog/ministry of

In his book, “Raising a Modern-Day Knight,” Robert Lewis lines out in no uncertain terms what a man is according to God, who made man, and gave us scripture as a guide to this life and His purposes.

A man is someone who:

  1. Rejects Passivity
  2. Accepts Responsibility
  3. Leads Courageously
  4. Expects the Greater Reward

This definition of an “Authentic Man,” as Lewis calls it, has been used by my family since I first learned it back in ‘the old ford explorer.’  I use it in my boy’s Journey to Manhood, and we speak of it often in our lives when the call to ‘man-up’ is required.

Too many of us, were raised in the nebulous cloud of unclear messages regarding when it was appropriate to be the boy/man God made us to be, and the question of if there even was a fixed target that we should be aiming for. I have found Robert Lewis’ definition inspiring and encouraging because it is a specific goal that I can frame my life and the lives of my children around. These four points are like directives on the mission to understanding what it is to be a man.

This definition also dispels false ideas of what it means to be a man. I want to encourage you that you don’t need to allow others in your life to intimidate your decisions based on what they expect, in their own delusions of manhood. Men do not have to be aggressive, self-centered, or sexually promiscuous. It is not necessary to be buff, athletic, or competitive to be a man. It is not required to be able to build a car engine, climb the corporate ladder, or carve an entertainment center out of wood with your bare hands… If you do the four things outlined in Robert Lewis’ definition, then you are aiming for the target that glorifies God in manhood, and I wholeheartedly commend it to you!

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