We become what we do, we are the sum of our habits. I should say quickly I do not believe we are only the sum of our habits. There is more at work in our lives than the product of what we do. Thank God! To be a Christian is to believe the grace of Jesus breaks the unending, hellish cycle of cause and effect. I don’t want to live forever in the cancerous wake of my evil deeds. Grace intervenes. The Spirit makes me new. I’m freed, even from myself.
Still, even after grace comes to us, virtues have to be perfected. Our habits have to be formed. Our actions have to be aligned with the grace we have received...
We are given faith and we are taught knowledge, but to make both productive, we have to devote ourselves to a lifelong project of developing traits, attitudes, and habits. . . . Otherwise, we’ll be “ineffective and unproductive” despite the grace and knowledge we possess.
If we lived in an ideal world, every man would learn the traits of manliness as part of a dynamic body of righteous men. He would have models in these older men. He would have a tribe. He would be initiated, honored, challenged, trained, corrected, and commissioned by these men. In fact, in an ideal world, a man would barely be able to identify what had made him a great man, a genuine man. It would all be natural and woven into life. It would just be. . . .
Let’s begin with defining the four maxims that frame the vision of manhood. They are the pillars upon which every other truth in this study rests, and they give meaning to the disciplines and virtues every man should incorporate into his life. They are the four pillars of true manhood, the essentials for becoming manly men.
Challenge: Maybe you had a noble father figure who taught you the lore of manhood, but maybe you didn’t. What’s one good thing you learned from watching another man? Take a moment to thank God for that example.