On Becoming a Man: What Makes a Man a Man?

“Men are scarce”. “A good man is hard to find!” That is the noise in the global neighbourhood.

So today, I ask the simple question. What makes a man a man?

Is it the broadness of his chest, the six-pack framework, his towering height, bold face, calm mien, full beard, mustache, or deep croaky voice? Tell me, because I have seen many a man on this earth who had all those, but still fell short, somehow. The magazines and the screens keep them in your face all year long. They are in every industry, from business to fashion, engineering to the arts, just name it!

What makes a man a man? Is it the stash of hard currency in his bulky wallet, nine-figure annual income, or ability to pay his own bills and those of a dozen more people, or the vastness of his business empire? Maybe not; because too many witnesses are alive today to dispel the notion that material possessions are the ultimate measure of a man. For if they were, why would wives of the rich search for intimacy and solace elsewhere, or complain bitterly about empty beds and cold nights? A house is never equal to a home.

They say it brings so much joy for a man to have a home to look forward to. Wait a second; does a wife, wives, the number of children, or maybe concubines make one a man?

Many have wondered if the age of a male person counts towards him truly becoming a man. Is it the receding hairlines or the succession of many decades of his life on earth? If that is true then you wonder why there are so many grown-ups who cannot keep peace in a group, reason and present intelligible suggestions that would move society forward, or keep a home together.

What makes a man a man? Is it because he has answers to every question, or that he can solve every problem that comes his way? Or, how would you define the one who cannot solve all the puzzles in the world and easily admits it? Is a man less of a man when he admits the complexity of life’s issues and the limitations of his own wit?

What makes a man a man?

Such a simple question, but I have no simple answer. I ask for, today my tongue is tied.
Photo credit: www.hellobeautiful.com
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The On Becoming a Man Series is a bi-monthly column – a collection of musings that seek to unravel the mind of the young man, and are not necessarily autobiographical. Gbenga Awomodu is an Editorial Assistant at Bainstone Ltd./BellaNaija.com. When he is not reading or writing, Gbenga is listening to good music or playing the piano. Follow him on Twitter: @gbengaawomodu | Gbenga’s Notebook: www.gbengaawomodu.com | Facebook Page: Gbenga Awomodu

Nigerian Environmental Study/Action Team Organises NEST at 25 Youth Essay Competition – Deadline, June 20th

Topic: “THE NIGERIAN ENVIRONMENT AND HUMAN SECURITY”
Deadline: Wednesday 20th June 2012
Word Limit: Not more than 10,000 words

To mark her 25th Anniversary, the Nigerian Environmental Study/Action Team (NEST) is organising an Essay Competition for young people aged 14 – 30 years old. Essays (not more than 10, 000 words) on the topic ‘THE NIGERIAN ENVIRONMENT AND HUMAN SECURITY’ are invited from the youth in three (3) categories:

1) Secondary school students
2) Undergraduates, and
3) Postgraduate students and young graduates

OTHER RULES: Essays must be accompanied by the curriculum vitae of the authors, and submitted electronically to reach the undersigned at info@nestinteractive.org and chrisichite@yahoo.com, not later than 20th June, 2012.

Awards will be made to the three best essays submitted in each category, at a ceremony during the “NEST AT 25″ Conference on the 26th of July, 2012.

BACKGROUND: NEST is one of Nigeria’s foremost environmental Non-Governmental Organizations. It was founded by a group of environmentalists within and outside Nigeria in 1987. NEST has since made significant contributions through research, pilot projects, public policy, raising public awareness and education on environmental and sustainable development issues. NEST is marking her 25th anniversary, among other ways, by holding this competition, with the hope of stimulating interest in the youth, who own the future, on the varied dimensions of the environment problematique. The physical dimensions of environmental degradation, like soil and gulley erosion, desertification and encroaching sand dunes, silting up and drying up of water bodies, growing scarcity of forest resources and loss of biodiversity, mounting garbage in the cities and air pollution leading to climate change, are readily observable. But how these environmental failures affect our daily lives, beyond the material shortages and discomfort they create is infrequently considered. Nigeria is at present experiencing an abnormally high level of human insecurity in various forms. Is there a link with our degrading environment? To what extent do conflicts arising from contests for environmental resources – space, farm or grazing land, water and fisheries or just forest resources – underlie the rising level of insecurity in the country? It is hoped that essayists in this competition will explore these dimensions of the impact of the environment, to enhance our appreciation of the consequences of inadequate attention to the environment.

Related links: www.nestinteractive.org; www.nigeriaclimatechange.org; www.naspanigeria.org

Guest Post: Write The Vision… by Bolaji Olawoye

By Olawoye Bolaji

“Write the vision and make it plain on tablets…”[1]

It is a scriptural principle of life. The first stage is to conceive it (or receive it). The second stage – document it! Write it down in details, even if it changes later. Learn to take your dreams seriously. Write down those visions of the future in your heart: spiritual calling, ministry outreaches, business ideas, financial ideas, philanthropic organizations, fashion companies, and technological breakthroughs, name it….WRITE THEM ALL DOWN!

The Clearer Your Goals, The Greater Your Faith[2]. When you write them down, they start to look feasible; then you edit, you fine-tune, and you modify. What was initially on God’s mind starts to find earthly manifestation. The sons of the Kingdom start to become instrumentations to making the earth a better place – God’s own way. Hallelujah!

Think on them, ponder on the dreams, and subject them to the scrutiny & illumination of the Holy Spirit with the help of the Word of God. The greatest dreams all began with a thought. If it is birthed in the place of the Holy Ghost, it is a future miracle begging for manifestation at your feet! I personally testify that the greatest breakthroughs and solutions I have had in web development (an area of gifting) have come, usually during a service, during my quiet time or just while thinking! Please, write them down, they may never come back again that way.

Run Of The Vision…

“…that he may run who reads it”[3]

A Mentor once wrote, “You will never make significant success with something until it becomes an obsession”. Start doing something about those dreams & visions. Add them to your daily schedule. Make sure no day ends without you doing something (no matter how little) that contributes to the fulfilment of that dream, even if it is just writing down a thought! Read about it. Prepare for it. Learn about it. Let it have permanent residence in your heart.

Run along with the Spirit of God…

“The preparations of the heart belong to man, but the answer of the tongue is from the Lord. All the ways of a man are pure in his own eyes, but the Lord weighs the spirits. Commit your works to the Lord, and your thoughts will be established”[4]

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths”[5]

Regularly lay it before the Holy Spirit. A moment with Him will reveal the flaws of your most carefully laid plans. Talk about it to other Christians who will support it and encourage you. Most importantly, spend time with God’s Word, studying scriptural examples, admonitions, warnings & illuminations. Take out time to pray. Pray in tongues. Pray concerning your fears and doubts; discuss freely with God. His presence is the proper place to receive confirmation about the validity & authenticity of your dreams, whether it is of Him or not. Your spiritual sensitivity and obedience is crucial at this stage.

The Holy Spirit will lead you every step of the way and supernaturally open doors of opportunity before you. When He does, make use of them! He will bring the right people your way; the right connections. He will schedule timely instructions as well as timely warnings. Please do not take either lightly! Disobedience or disregard of warnings (i.e. chastisements, rebukes and/or intentional delays) can cost you dearly!

• Some people can discourage you simply because they do not understand your dreams and visions and so they do not appreciate them. Notwithstanding, make use of wonderful people around you.
• Acquire or develop skills you may require. They may be mental, physical, emotional or spiritual.
• Learn about things you do not know about, such as forming/building organizations, raising/managing people, raising funds, etc.
• Build up your most holy faith in the Holy Ghost. Deal with your weaknesses; study His Word like never before; soar in the Spirit on the wings of prayer.
• Support other people’s dreams & visions; appreciate them, encourage them and sow into them.

This is your youth – the morning part of your days, the time for purpose, preparation, planning & process. Before the flood of circumstances begin to sweep many away, embrace your destiny in God and partner with divinity. Shod your feet with the boots of vision-created stamina. Launch out into life with a sense of direction towards purpose, abundance and fulfilment.

“For the vision is yet for an appointed time; but in the end it will speak, and it will not lie. Though it tarries, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry.”[6]

Importance of Vision

Having a vision of the future gives you focus. Focus is being ‘un-distracted’ by the many distractions in life. Focus is one of the most important ingredients for outstanding and extraordinary success in life. You cannot stay focused unless you have something to look unto – a reason to live; a reason to press on; a reason to wake up each day and a reason to work on, despite the bad situations of things at the present.

Your vision is of an expected end. This God approves of:

“For I know the thoughts that I think towards you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope (or an expected end).”[7]

“The fear of the wicked will come upon him, and the desire of the righteous will be granted”[8]

“My son, eat honey because it is good, and honeycomb which is sweet to your taste; so shall the knowledge of wisdom be to your soul; if you have found it, there is prospect, and your hope will not be cut off”[9]

The dreams of the future that you have are little scenes from the big pictures of God’s thoughts. They might not look feasible. The dreams may not be the complete picture because visions of the future only get clearer and brighter as you mature and advance in your partaking of God’s thinking pattern.

“But the path of the just is like the shinning sun, that shines brighter unto the perfect day”[10]

“For we know in part … For we now see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face”[11]

Having a vision keeps you from envy, jealousy and comparing yourself to others. Your God-given vision fully gives expression to your God-given potentials and talents – the best of you and what you were actually created to be. You have to stay focused in training to attain that picture that the Lord has for you. Even when other vessels of God are gloriously manifesting His excellence in their God-given calling(s), you are not envious. Instead, you are challenged to step up and continue in what He has specifically called you to be in its God-given fullness.

Having a vision also helps in one of the most important decisions in life – the choice of a life partner, i.e. marriage. In the second chapter of Genesis, while Adam was in the garden, God saw he the need to provide a help meet (fit, proper and comparable) to him. A help(er) meet for his assignment and his person. As a man, when you have started walking in the fulfilment of God’s purpose, I believe recognising a helper comparable to you is easier. The same also goes for the woman of purpose. It is until then that she can recognise the man with the calling and potentials to husband her life. The commandment to multiply, fill the earth and subdue it was given to both man and woman. We equally have a calling to fulfil purpose in our lives.

The reason why life seems so ordinary for so many is this: If your heart cannot picture a future, your person cannot achieve (or manage) it. Some say, “If you can dream it, you can achieve it”. An older and well-established lawyer friend once told me (along with another colleague), “God works with the picture you have in your mind”. It’s like, when you see far, you give God work to do in bringing it to fulfilment. You however, must not lose the caution of subjecting every thought, dream and aspiration to the wisdom of the Holy Spirit to ascertain whether they were of Him in the very first place.

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[1] Habakkuk 2:2; [2] Mike Murdock quotation; [3] Habakkuk 2:2; [4] Proverbs 16:1-3 (with author’s emphasis); [5] Proverbs 3:5-6; [6] Habakkuk 2:3; [7] Jeremiah 29:14 (with author’s emphasis); [8] Proverbs 10:24 (with author’s emphasis); [9] Proverbs 24:13-14; [10] Proverbs 4:18; [11] 1 Corinthians 13:9,12

Photo Credits: www.2writewithpassion.com; photoblog.statesman.com; www.flickr.com; blog.writeyourvision.org; projectmicah.blogspot.com

Guest Post: Purpose, Calling & Dreams by Bolaji Olawoye

By Olawoye Bolaji

Perhaps you have for a long time held the notion that your Future or Assignment (in life) is something God will have to decide on later in your life, and you consider it something very difficult to discover.

The Holy Spirit teaches otherwise! Through David – “…and in your book they were all written, the days fashioned for me, when as yet there were none of them”[1]. Through Jeremiah – “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you; before you were born…I ordained you a prophet to the nations”[2]. Through Paul – “…God, who separated me from my mother’s womb and called me through His grace.”[3] Joseph also had dreams of a future right from when he was little.[4] The bottom line is, every one was created to fulfil a purpose and that purpose does not show-up in life (or occur by happenstance) but was implanted before birth! “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. For whom he foreknew, He also predestined…whom He predestined, these He also called…”[5] The mustard seed carries within it instructions on how to become a mighty mustard tree, so do you!

The process of fulfilling your purpose and calling begins as you gradually discover it. One thing is primary however, and that is the gradual revelation and unfolding by the Holy Spirit as your spirit becomes responsive & attentive to Him. His relationship to you as Mentor (who understands the fullness of your Purpose & Assignment as well as the timing of every event) is important!

You also need to understand the place of your Dreams, Aspirations & Visions.

Dreams, Aspirations & Visions

Dreams & Visions in this context refers to those little ideas and pictures of the future that grow in your mind and spirit over the years. They can also manifest in your night dreams.

Usually, in childhood, we all had childhood desires to be pilots, or doctors or even the president of your country! As we grew older however, God placed other (or even similar) dreams in our maturing minds & hearts to give us a glimpse of the possibilities that lie on His mind.

Some of us have dreams of building a large orphanage or day-care centre; some a vast fashion empire; some an IT corporation. Some have dreams of coordinating an anointed evangelical outreach; some a church; a philanthropic ministry; a teaching ministry or an online 24-hour prayer ministry! God is grooming some woman, greatly anointed with the ministry of healing or worship. Praise God forever more! Notwithstanding, others have dreams of becoming a Professor Emeritus in their field of discipline and a force to reckon with whilst others have a dream of a vast business empire. A friend blew my mind when he shared with me his dream of building an academia comprising primary, secondary & tertiary schools. Some surprisingly will still live a very calm life of a gentle mother or father quietly raising their children as God’s arrows for the next generation.

Sometimes we ask in doubt, “How is it ever possible that you know God’s will & purpose in life?” Paul explains “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard … the things which God has prepared for those who love Him. But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit”[6] via the little dreams that seem so big, unattainable or even ambitious in our own little minds! These dreams (when placed on the filter bed of His Word and under the illuminating laser beam of His Spirit) are usually pointers (or a glimpse) of what is on the Father’s mind for you & for your future.

Through Jeremiah, God explains: “For I know the thoughts that I think towards you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope (or an expected end). Then you will call upon me…and you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart”[7]

These are dreams and aspirations that give full expression to your emotional, psychological, temperamental make-up as well as your spiritual endowment. Though they may not be fully developed at the present, they are worth paying attention to!

What God is trying to do is to give you a reason to run, a problem to solve, an object of planning, a goal, an aim worth achieving, a reason for living and ultimately a life Assignment. He deposits His greatest revelations into your spirit and your mind. Your mind has to participate to get you moving and ultimately bring it to physical fulfillment. God told Abraham, “Lift your eyes now and look from the place where you are – northward, southward, eastward, and westward; for all the land you see I will give to you and your descendants forever.”[8]

At certain times in life, God asks you, “What do you see, son?” Look well with all spiritual foresight and all the creativity of a renewed mind and respond! If you see well, He will tell you what to do next; otherwise, He probably continues His work upon your life and then asks the same question sometimes later.

The Dreams of a Leader

“And the Lord will make you the head and not the tail; you shall be above only, and not be beneath, if you heed the commandments of the Lord your God, which I command you today, and are careful to observe them.” (Deuteronomy 28:13, with author’s emphasis)

Sometimes we think it is humility not to want to be the head. It is not! It is disobedience! This is why our minds need to be renewed by God’s word and by the help of the Holy Spirit. Your spiritual specie is head only and not tail. Your humility is not to be induced by unfortunate life circumstances such as “na condition bend crayfish.” Your humility is because of a spiritual nature that remains true in both affluence and abasement.

Get a life and live as God wants you to live. Notwithstanding, leadership comes at a price – obedience.

Clues to the Assignment within

Mike Murdock, in his book, The 3 Most Important Things In Your Life, suggested the following clues to discovering your Assignment:

¨What You Love Most Is A Clue To Your Assignment;
¨What Grieves You Most Is A Clue To What You Are Assigned To Heal;
¨What Angers You Most Is A Clue To What You Are Assigned To Correct; and
¨Your Assignment Is Always The Problem God Has Designed You To Solve For Others.

All these things are just pointers to the details of your God-given physical, psychological, temperamental, emotional and spiritual constitution; a clue to the real design within. It is intended to make you discover in which areas of life God created you to function optimally and maximally. I love to suggest some other clues: What would you do if finances, parental influence, societal conditions and other situations (that might sometimes be limitations) were absent? What would you do for Christ if you had all resources at your disposal? What gifts within you can benefit humankind if you have all the resources needed?

Pursuit and Obsession

You cannot have significant success with something until it actually becomes an obsession. Until your God-given dream becomes an obsession, something that daily preoccupies your mind, something you build towards daily; you will not make significant headway with it!

The Pursuit of the Dream

Mike Murdock also wrote, “The Proof Of Desire Is Pursuit” and “You Really Have No Right To Anything You Have Not Pursued”.

The entire Kingdom of God is all about Pursuit – of His Nature, of His Power, of His Presence, of His Wisdom, of His Principles, of His Truth. The Kingdom requires violence[9]…taking the grace made available to you and breaking loose from the enslaving clutches of sin, of which Jesus had made you free!

Listen to Wisdom: uncommon men & women are few! You wonder why? – It is because God made it so! “IT IS THE GLORY OF GOD TO CONCEAL A MATTER, BUT THE GLORY (OR HONOUR) OF KINGS IS TO SEARCH OUT A MATTER”[10]

Break loose from mediocrity, live the privileged life God is giving you.

The Pursuit of the Mentor

The same man of God wrote, “An Uncommon Future Requires Uncommon Preparation” and “An Uncommon Dream Will Require An Uncommon Mentor”.

A mentor is one who has been equipped and enabled by the Holy Spirit (your primary Mentor) to equip you for a future assignment or responsibility. Mentorship is simply Wisdom without the stress of learning by Experience! You increase in Wisdom via mentors or mistakes (or both). A mentor stands fit to equip you via his/her words, character/lifestyle & teachings. You are the Protégé; the one who needs what is in the heart of the Mentor.

Don’t get me wrong! This is not about following-after or glorifying man. A Mentor is not necessarily someone you should be like! It is just that he/she carries a contactable anointing that you know you require in your life. I personally have a number of mentors, some on my major spiritual calling & Assignment; others on God’s Principles of Fruitfulness & Financial Prosperity and still others on the believer’s Faith and Authority. Notwithstanding, the daily School of the Holy Spirit is the greatest mentorship programme I have and continually partake of.

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[1] Psalms 139:16; [2] Jeremiah 1:5; [3] Galatians 1:15; [4] Genesis 37:5-10; [5] Romans 8:29-30 (with author’s emphasis); [6] 1 Corinthians 2:9-10 (with author’s emphasis); [7] Jeremiah 29:11-13 (with author’s emphasis); [8] Genesis 13:14-15 (with author’s emphasis); [9] Matthew 11:12; [10] Proverbs 25:2 (with author’s emphasis)