In my last post, Being Good at Being a Man or Just Being a Good Man, I included a quote: “There is a difference between being a good man and being good at being a man.”
The quote comes from Jack Donovan’s book, The Way of Men which suggests that reducing masculinity to a handful of tactical virtues is only about just being good at being a man but that our moral virtues, concern about justice, and acts of humility, charity, faith, righteousness, honesty, and temperance are about being a good man.
Now, I’d like to make the case that you can become a good and godly man.
Differences Between a Good Man and Being Good at Being a Man
In the aforementioned post, author Tom Matlack stated that the increasing expectations and challenges of men leave us asking “Who am I and what’s important?” Matlack also suggested men are confused about what it means to be a man in today’s cultural context.
The post also included the characteristics of being a good man from the article, Raise Your Son to Be a Good Man, Not a ‘Real’ Man by Michael Kimmel based on a survey of groups of good and honorable men. These men responded that they mostly learned about how to be a man from their father, coach, guy friends or older brother. This does not diminish the roles of mothers in raising their children but men learn about manhood by being around other men.
Kimmel’s research also showed that there is a difference in the definitions of being a good man and being a “real man”, in addition to the culture actually defining manhood today.
The Proficiency of a Man
One of my favorite websites is the Art of Manliness. The site reveres historical figures like “Rough Rider” Theodore Roosevelt, Jack London, Winston Churchill, and other good and manly men.
AOM founder, Brett McKay hosts a weekly podcast and together he and his wife, Kate have written books offering their take on manhood like The Art of Manliness—Classic Skills and Manners for the Modern Man, and The Art of Manliness—Manvotionals: Timeless Wisdom and Advice on Living the 7 Manly Virtues. It also offers “how-to” articles and advice to help men who are trying to be good protectors, providers, husbands, and fathers.
In an article on The Good Men Project website, Brett McKay says the difference was between being a good man and being good at being a man means, “being proficient in your ability to earn and keep your culture’s idea of manhood.”
This means proficiency is needed in manhood.
McKay elaborated that “Being good at being a man for the Kalahari bushman means being able to be persistent and hunt successfully. Being good at being a man for a man living in suburban Ohio probably means holding a job down to support a family, being able to fix things around the house, or if he’s single, being adept at interacting with women.”
He goes on, “A man can be a very virtuous and upright man, but be horrible at ‘being good at being a man.’.”
McKay implies that a man can fail at the job of being a man but still be a good person by balancing the cultural demands of manhood with a private commitment to moral uprightness.
Uprightness is certainly not a bad aspiration but I believe that God Buddies are called to live above the influence of the culture.
We are called to live as good men according to God’s standards for manhood.
Becoming Godly Men (not just Good Men)
Today’s cultural “man code” tells men to be manly —but not too manly. It advocates for restraint and suppression of any kind of maleness which must be guarded against and diminished. It suggests that men who don’t meet the cultural man code are unmanly or not “real men”.
All this sets a bad standard. We can’t just be good men. Just being a good man or being a “real” man isn’t even the same as being good at being a man.
It’s also not the same as being a good and godly man.
The God Buddy Principle
My belief is that the only “real man” was Jesus Christ, who demonstrated each and every characteristic of being a good man. He is our ultimate role model for manhood and when we strive to be more like Him, we are becoming godly men.
Jesus was also good at being a man because He balanced His masculine and feminine traits. He fought for the oppressed, stood up against wrongs, turned over tables when he saw wrong-doing and fought off temptations of the devil. He cared for and healed the sick, comforted the hungry, taught the children and befriended sinners.
As we strive to be more like Jesus, we no longer need to “be good men” who only “do the right things” to earn our way into Heaven. Once we understand that God’s grace and forgiveness are sufficient, we are free from the “doing” and can live “being” God’s “real” men.
I trust that this short series helps you understand the difference between being a good man and being good at being a man. I also trust it shows you the difference between just being a good man and being a godly man. The differences are subtle but important.
Now, go out and become good at being a godly man. Learn about Jesus and follow His teachings. He is the ultimate good and godly Man!