Both men and women generally appreciate praise, but men especially have a deep need to be respected and admired. An immature man often tries to satisfy his need for admiration through things like taking foolish risks and sexual conquests only to discover the type of respect received from giving in to passions or pleasing his peers is shallow and fleeting. Most of us eventually wake up and start being more responsible and intentional about life when we realize stability, order, and flourishing require it. The patterns of seeking honor in all the wrong places repeat until we mature into strong and responsible singles, husbands, and fathers, but some never make the leap to adulthood and instead stay stuck (Proverbs 26:16, 1 Corinthians 13:11).
We tend to focus on the processes and habits of other men we respect and admire when they seem to have it all together, especially in areas where we fall short. This desire to be “better” has helped create a $13.2 billion dollar self-help industry that comes with familiar pros and cons. Most of us could definitely benefit from being more intentional and disciplined with things like money, health, and relationships, but constantly comparing ourselves to other men can lead to discouragement and/or pride. It is God’s way and not man’s that leads to a life of authentic honor and respect, because He created the principles and laws of time and space to begin with. Intuitive and observant men may notice and adopt principles of flourishing God has put in place, but He alone is the final authority on all things including who is aligned with Him and worthy of honor and respect (Amos 7:7-8, Job 38:4).
In his book Wild at Heart, John Eldridge posits that women can affirm but only men can bestow masculinity. Reflecting on my own life and witnessing the lives of many other men, I conclude this is true; but each of us is on his own path and in his own story, so true honor and respect is custom tailored to us as individuals in response to the question “am I doing it right?” With this in mind, we are ultimately responsible for “being” more than “doing.” God judges our intents and motivations (Hebrews 4:12). We can do many good things, but if we are not men of virtuous character, we will miss opportunities for the honor and respect we crave (Mark 12: 43, 1 Corinthians 13:1).
Ultimately, God is the source and worthy of all honor and glory, and everything and everyone else is a resource. The respect and honor given to us from other people can be withdrawn, but God will never leave or forsake us; and His gift of honor is like an artesian spring that never runs dry when we are in Christ (John 7:38). It is not complicated; when we put God first in all things and live for him each day, we are walking out a life worthy of honor. Sometimes it will manifest through affirmation and recognition, but whether it does or not will matter less and less as we grow into the fullness of who we are designed to be. Maturing into the fullness of who God made us to become is a noble and honorable way to live. Our heritage and legacy as men of honor rests individually on knowing what God requires of us and walking in His purposes, for one day we will give an account of how we stewarded the lives we have been given (1Peter 4:5).
It feels good when we are complimented by our wives for being good husbands, our children for being good Dads, and our employers for being good employees, but these things are temporal. A relationship with Jesus is the greatest honor we can experience in this life or the next (Romans 6:23).
– Richard Harwood from The Guild