Be a real man (aka ‘La La Land’ & Jesus)

Gary says I lost my “man card.”

Gary is an amazing guy from my church who is built like Arnold Schwarzenegger’s second cousin (whom I assume is ripped). But a few months ago, when I told Gary I had just seen the movie La La Land with my wife, he sighed and shook his head, “Pastor, I think you just lost your man card.”

In my defense, La La Land dominated the Academy Awards in addition to earning nearly a half billion dollars worldwide.

Also in my defense, I lost my man card years ago.

When it comes to manly activities, my life has been a catastrophic failure. I haven’t been fishing since I was seven. The only time I shot a rifle I “scoped” myself, leaving my forehead bloody and the other camouflaged men in fits of laughter. I grew up playing soccer, which made me a “field fairy” according to the football players at my school. I then joined the tennis team, which hasn’t produced a prom king in 137 years. Add to my resume show choir and the school musical (sequins and theatre makeup, anyone?). If those weren’t emasculating enough, I’m so scrawny I wear long underwear every day from October to March (is that too much information?), and I would grow a beard for warmth but my face can only produce a few wimpy whiskers.

Yeah, not exactly the script of a testosterone-filled life . . . 

Can you relate? Do you fall short of the “man’s man” definition the world promotes and sells on the cover of men’s magazines?

It has taken way too many years, but I’ve learned to be cool with that. Because God has taught me to define manhood in a whole new way. What makes a real man are not biceps, bucks, and bushy beards. 

What makes a real man is his connection to Jesus.

I love how Paul put it: “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20).

What connection does this La La Land lover have with Jesus? He lives in me. My entire life is lived by faith, trusting in the Savior who loved me enough to give up everything to rescue me. I have a continual source of strength, an everlasting reason to rejoice, and an identity as a “man of God” that no one can take away.

Let me speak to the guys reading this post (ladies, makes sure to share this with a man you know)—Guys, is your identity as a man rooted in your connection to Jesus? I pray, more than anything, that it is.

Because Jesus will give you the confidence that 225 lbs. on the bench press cannot.

Because Jesus will give you a joy that lasts longer than the thrill of tracking the biggest buck up north.

Because Jesus will give you a peace that is never dependent on your boss’ approval of your work.

Because Jesus will give you a place at the Father’s table even if your father walked away when you were born.

Because Jesus will give you the spiritual swagger that Corvette drivers only wish they had.

There are a billion men on this planet hitting the gym and drinking craft beers who are living and dying for the next temporary high. You are no fool if you don’t follow in their footsteps. You are no fool, as one famous Christian said, if you give up what you cannot keep to gain what you cannot lose.

You are no fool if your life is all about Jesus.

So don’t worry if you never grace the cover of Men’s Health. Don’t worry if your money goes to the Kingdom instead of the fastest car at the intersection. Don’t worry if your idea of an amazing night involves loving one of God’s daughters.

Even if she wants to see La La Land.

Because real men live by faith in Jesus.

Pastor Mike Novotny has served God’s people in full-time ministry since 2007 as a pastor in Madison and now Appleton, Wisconsin. He also serves as a host and speaker for the Time of Grace television program and contributes to the written resources of Time of Grace Ministry. Pastor Mike is married to Kim and has two daughters.

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