Abraham Lincoln was a confounding man for people to describe. If you ran into him on the street, you would call him homely, poor in appearance and ugly. But when he took the stage, speaking on some subject about which he was passionate (slavery), he was transformed. All the awkwardness and country breeding counted for naught. He held forth fearlessly and honestly. And there was one adjective oft used of him that I find interesting: manly.
I will not entangle myself in an attempt to define masculinity nor touch on other issues of gender, except to ask this: When was the last time you thought of or heard someone’s public speaking as “manly”? It is not that the word has changed. The act is no longer applied with the word.
Read Lincoln’s speeches and you will find them manly. They are manly in this respect: He cared for people unlike himself. He did not seek to carry his case by twisted logic or tricks. He spoke honestly and with conviction. His words were not the spoken expedient of the moment but the result of long consideration. He did cared more about the truth than whatever affect it might have on his political career or person. He was bold but not rash, truthful and kind.
So having opened the door (possibly), to the idea that public speaking can be manly, let us turn to manly prayer:
Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.”
Here is strength. Here is passion. For what? Muscles? Fast cars? Fame? No, but sacrifice. It is not as though men have the corner on sacrifice. But when the True Man entered the Garden of Gethsemane, we saw what man could be.
Of course what always strikes me about the prayer in the Garden is that it was a direct obedience to Jesus’ own teaching on the Mount. “Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” It is only as the sweat drops of blood fall upon the turf that we truly understand what kind of submission Jesus had in mind.
So men, when you hear the words ‘man up’ let’s take them as Christ would. Let’s be passionate about the right things; let’s show a willingness to stand up for righteousness even at personal cost; let’s be honest.
(And women, you can probably do the same. Jesus anticipates the cost of the cross in feminine language too. The path of discipleship is for all who are created in God’s image.)
Lord, give me courage.