Rediscovering Young Men

In a sequel to yesterday’s post about Rediscovering Self Esteem in young (and old) women, I want to talk today about the growing self esteem problem in young men.

Young boy showing off his muscles I am seeing more and more young men looking to build self esteem and self confidence through their appearance, particularly through toning and building their muscles.

I have spoken to a few such young men and asked them why they spend hours in the gym every week and the answer is almost unanimously the same, “to give me more self confidence”

“Why will having bigger, more toned muscles make you more self confident?” I ask.

“Umm… because… I don’t know… because I’ll look better, I guess” is the usual reply.

“So, you’re putting in all this time and effort to build your muscles. What are you using those big strong muscles for?”

“Err… Nothing, really. They fill out my shirt nicely and they mean I can wear a muscle shirt without being embarrassed.”

“So, you spend ten hours or more a week building muscles just to look good?”

“Yeah, and to make me more self confident.”

“So if you get injured and you can’t work out for a couple of months, all that muscle will fade away or turn to fat and you’ll lose your self-confidence too?”

“….. ….. well… …. I guess so.”

It’s at this point that I have to fight back tears.

These poor guys. They’re doing exactly what the girls we talked about yesterday are doing. They’re basing their self-esteem and self-confidence on how they look, and how much they think that matters.

Now, I know how they feel. I spent too many years believing the lies and I have very, very little self confidence and almost no self esteem. I spent my teen years fit, healthy and strong but constantly felt fat, ugly and weak (I still feel that way, but 15 years sitting in front of a computer has made me a little more justified in it).

It shouldn’t be this way though. All of the guys I know who work out to try to gain self confidence are great guys, who love God, love people, are loved by everyone they know and yet they are just too blind to see it.

The problem doesn’t stop with young men either. Young men who try to base their self esteem in their looks turn into older men who are desperately trying to recapture their youth.

How are we supposed to trust God and step out in faith to follow him if we have no self-confidence? I know in my own life, time and time again, I have been afraid to follow God’s call because I don’t believe I am capable of following him. I’m paralyzed by it so often.

We, the Church, need to take the lead in restoring to our men a sense of self esteem that is not based on what they can do physically, how macho they are and how strong they are but instead is based on their character and who they are in Christ.

Self confidence must be based on who we are not what we are, on lasting truths not quick-fading appearances.

Men, let’s start with ourselves and then take the message out to all those around us that we should build our sense of self-worth on 1 John 3:1

How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!

We must learn to take our confidence from the fact that we ARE children of God – and that will never change!