It’s safe to say that most Christian parents want to raise godly young men. While parents and youth pastors pour countless hours into this goal with the hopes that mature Christian men will emerge through the process. What should such a program include? What parts of the Bible should be emphasized the most? Which are essential?
Our book is designed to provide a complete framework for guiding this process—the process of turning a young man into a Man of God—one who is rooted and grounded in the ways of the Lord. To structure this journey, we prayerfully sought out the most essential “pillars” of manhood. This process led us to the Seven Pillars of Manhood: Identity in Christ, Love, Godly Wisdom, the Word of God, Purity, Character, and Legacy…
Why these seven? First, after our team of eight developed (rather, received it), we noted that the list was complete. Second, in Scripture, the number seven symbolizes completeness or perfection. Starting with Genesis (where God rested from his labors after Creation was finished in six days, Genesis 2:2), and ending in Revelation (the seven churches, seven Spirits, seven golden lampstands, etc.), Scripture is filled with examples where the number seven represents divine perfection, totality, or completion. In our case, designing a program to build young men into strong Christians, we believed this Biblical use of seven was significant: “Wisdom has built her house; she has set up its seven pillars” (Proverbs 9:1). Let’s review these seven pillars now.
We start the list with Identity in Christ because founding one’s identity in Christ is foundational. We placed it even higher than love because Biblical love stems from being loved by God and living a life of love that stems from understanding who we are in Christ. Without understanding who we are in Christ, living a life of love is difficult.
Love comes next because living a life without love is both empty and meaningless: “If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing” (1 Corinthians 13:1–3).
Godly Wisdom is the steering wheel of our lives. Without making choices based on Godly wisdom, we are guaranteed to go astray in life. To discuss Godly wisdom, we’ve adopted the Bible’s own definition of wisdom, which includes seven characteristics: “The wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness” (James 3:13–18).
The Word of God (the Bible) is the only lasting foundation upon which we can build our lives, as spoken by Christ: “Everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash” (Matthew 7:24–27).
Purity is one of our pillars because it’s one that every man struggles with, and one that the Lord Himself has stressed as important. The Bible is full of scriptures that deal with purity. In fact, James 3:17 places purity as the very foundation of Godly wisdom: “But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.”
Most would agree that Character is an obvious pillar of manhood. To describe this pillar, we used a set of twenty-four Biblically-grounded virtues that were important to the medieval Christian knights.
And finally, Legacy is one of our pillars because it insures that the Godly heritage of men will continue to new generations. Without passing the baton, a man’s legacy dies.
With this brief introduction, let’s get started with each pillar.