When does a boy become a man? The answer goes far beyond biology and chronological age.
As defined in the Bible, manhood is a functional reality, demonstrated by leadership and the fulfillment of responsibility. One mark of manhood is the economic maturity sufficient to hold an adult job and handle money.
The Christian view of manhood elevates economic maturity even more. A Christian man sees his work as an assignment from God—and as a gospel issue. If he fails in his responsibility by complacency and sloth, he knows that he has done injury to the gospel and the cause of Christ.
This portrait of manhood is not popular with modern advertisers and marketers. They know where to aim their messages—at adolescent boys and young men who are enamored with popular entertainment, sporting events, and material goods. The media extol economic carelessness, self-centeredness, and laziness as the standard of young manhood—easy prey for these hucksters.
A real man, in contrast, knows how to hold a job, handles money with responsibility, and, if married, takes care of the needs of his wife and family. Failure to develop economic maturity leads to young men who float from job to job and take years to “find themselves” in terms of career and vocation.
If we want boys to become men, they must be taught how to work, how to save, how to invest, and how to spend money with care. They must be taught to respect labor and to feel the satisfaction that comes from a job well done, and a dollar honestly earned.
The dignity of work is grounded in creation itself, when God told human beings to subdue the earth, to work the earth, and then to enjoy the produce. But a biblical view of work also takes into account the Fall, where we are told that, as a consequence of sin, the earth will no longer yield its fruit gladly or willingly. The cultivation of the land, the tilling of crops, and the entire process of work is now far more difficult.
But even the Curse does not remove the dignity of work. Work itself is dignified, and so is the produce of one’s hands and the yield of one’s investments. We do not know the specifics, but we do know that even before the Fall, a clear link existed between work and the value of the products of our labor.
Too many boys today are coddled and entertained, demonstrating a laziness that will be highly detrimental to their future prospects as a husband and a father. Slothfulness, laziness, and economic carelessness are marks of immaturity. A real man knows how to earn, manage, and respect money. A Christian man understands the danger that comes from the love of money, and yet he fulfills his responsibility as a Christian steward.
Fathers, we must fulfill our responsibility to inculcate such a vision of personal economics into the heart and soul of our sons, parenting with the hope and goal that this mark of manhood becomes established within the next generation of Christian men.