How do we help men and boys?Sue Afutu
So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. Genesis 1:27 NKJV
Society for a very long time in many countries around the world was gender polarized, in favour of men. Women were not counted during a census, married women could not independently enter into contracts, women could not vote, etc. To correct the imbalance, there has been a shift of attention from men to women; enabling laws have been passed to create the desired future. It has taken a while for policymakers and leaders to realize that if the laws were not bespoke, the pendulum would soon swing in favour of women. How do we help men and boys so that we never find ourselves there?
The International Men’s Day (IMD) Celebration on the 19th of November may provide some effective solutions. It was founded in 1999 by Dr. Jerome Teelucksingh, a history professor at the University of the West Indies in Trinidad and Tobago, and has been celebrated since that time in countries around the world. IMD aims at highlighting the positive value men bring to the world, their families and communities.
IMD has six objectives namely:
- Promote positive male role models
- Celebrate men’s positive contribution to society
- Focus on men’s health and well-being
- Highlight discrimination against men in areas of social services, social attitudes and expectations and law
- improve gender relations and promote gender equality
- Create a safer, better world
IMD encourages men to teach the boys in their lives the values, character, and responsibilities of being a man.
In this article, we focus on the first pillar which is promoting positive male role models. We do this by highlighting five Bible male characters and drawing lessons from their lives. We know that these people are not merely fictional but lived at some time in history.
The Faith of Abraham
He is not called the Father of Faith for nothing. He believed in a Supreme being he could not see at a time when his contemporaries worshipped idols. This caused him to leave his homeland in obedience to God and settle in a place where the Most High showed him (Genesis 12: 1-3). While battling childlessness, he hoped against hope that God could give him a child though he was well advanced in years and Sarah’s body was as good as dead (Romans 4:19-20 ). His faith was rewarded and Sarah gave birth to Isaac.
The Stewardship of Joseph
He served faithfully in the house of Potiphar who put everything except his wife under his care. Unfortunately, he was implicated in a crime he did not commit and had to spend time in jail. While there, the prison keeper committed all the prisoners into his hands. The Lord was with Joseph and made whatever he did prosper (Genesis 39).
Joseph was later promoted to vice-regent in Egypt because of his ability to interpret dreams. He faithfully served in this capacity and his wisdom carried nations through periods of famine (Genesis 41: 37 – 57).
The Vulnerability of David
David was a teenager when he was anointed by Samuel to be the next king after Saul (1 Samuel 16:12 ). He led the Israelite army in battle to defeat Goliath and the Philistine army. Though he was a brave king, he was never afraid to be vulnerable before his subjects when the situation called for it. Once he cried before his men at a time when their wives and children had been taken captive ( 1 Samuel 30: 1 -4). On another occasion when he was rebuked by the prophet Nathan for killing Uriah and taking Bathsheba to be his wife, he admitted his wrong (2 Samuel 12:13).
The life of David teaches us that it’s alright for a man to appear weak at times and that men do not always have to be strong. We also learn that God never despises a broken spirit and a contrite heart (Psalm 51:17).
The Consecration of Daniel
He and his friends Meshach, Shadrach and Abednego were taken to Babylon as captives as teenagers. Though alone in a strange land without his parents, he was determined to adhere to the tenets they had passed on to him. He purposed in his heart not to defile himself with the portion of the king’s delicacies, nor with his wine. As such he requested that he and his friends be fed water and vegetables instead (Daniel 1: 8-12).
Daniel like Joseph was promoted and later became governor of the province of Babylon and chief administrator over all the wise men of Babylon because of his ability to interpret the king’s dreams (Daniel 2:48). His friends were also put in charge of the affairs of Babylon (v. 49). Through the lives of Daniel and his friends, we learn that a life that is set apart to God is never dishonoured.
The Faithfulness of Joseph
He was betrothed to marry Mary. However, before the marriage, he realised that she was pregnant. While he was pondering over what to do, he had a dream in which an angel told him that the baby Mary was carrying was no ordinary child. Joseph kept his promise to marry her and became a foster father to Jesus (Matthew 1: 18 -21).
“Many claim to have unfailing love, but a faithful man who can find?” Proverbs 20:6. The life of Joseph illustrates this beautifully.
As we celebrate International Men’s Day today we salute the men we know; grandfathers, fathers, uncles, husbands, brothers, cousins, sons, pastors, and leaders in diverse places. May God establish the work of your hands.
Now praise we great and famous men,
The fathers named in glory
And praise the Lord who now as then
Reveals in man his glory (Richard M.S. Irwin)
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