What is a man? Samson was picked by God to lead and defend his family and his country. He was chosen to give his strength to protect and give life to those around him. When Delilah realized that he had told her his secret, she sent for the Philistine tyrants, telling them, “Come quickly – this time he’s told me the truth.” They came, bringing the bribe money. When she got him to sleep, his head on her lap, she motioned to a man to cut off the seven braids of his hair. Immediately he began to grow weak. His strength drained from him. Then she said, “The Philistines are on you, Samson!” He woke up, thinking, “I’ll go out, like always, and shake free.” He didn’t realize that GOD had abandoned him. MSG Judges 16:18-20

How could that happen? The man chosen and anointed by God for great things, has this written about him, ‘God had abandoned him.’

I met a man years ago who wanted to talk about the direction of his life. I asked him what he wanted to accomplish in his life. He said, “I want to make a ton of money, is that wrong?” Because he had a young son, I asked him, “When you were you’re a kid, what did you want from your dad? A huge pay check?” He said, “No. I wanted him to spend time with me and play with me. I wanted him to be proud of me.” I responded, “So you know what is in the heart of your son and you are going to ignore what you wanted as a little boy.  It’s not wrong to want to make money, in fact, it’s a good thing.  But at some point you will have to decide, do I exist to make money or invest into the live of my son.”

Let me share with you what it means to be a man. A man gives his strength to protect and give life to those around him. And what most people don’t understand, is that being a real man is spiritual. It’s not a physical thing, it’s a spiritual thing. To grow up is a hard thing for a guy. To leave being a boy and to understand what it means to become a man is a challenge. It’s hard because guys have to make a life altering decision. Is life about you, what you get and your validation? Or is life about those around you and what you give to them?

A boy, regardless of age, decides life is about him. Because of that, everyone around him does more work than he does. His mom or parents pay the bills, his girlfriend raises his kids. Everyone around a boy, does more work than he does. That’s what boys do, they don’t grow up, they are very self-absorbed and they abdicate their authority to be a man who influences others. They do the easiest thing. One night stands. Living together. No commitments. Blames others for their choices. Always the victim. They don’t grow, change or develop to be better man.

Because boys think life is about them, that is why they have to win at everything. This is why they have to have the coolest, biggest, most expensive because in everything they do, they are comparing themselves to others. They think being a man is physical so they are always trying to outdo someone else. Then they conclude, I am a winner, I am a looser. This is how boys live.

If you are dating or married to a boy, you find yourself always making excuses for him. Or, you think you can change him and then someday he will be the man you dream he could become. If you are dating a boy, dump him. Stop making excuses for his immaturity. Let me share with you what women older than you want to tell you: you will never change him. Let me share with you something tell everyone dating. If they can’t bring their best to you, they aren’t ready to date.

A man is different. A man decides life is about serving those around him. Everyone around a man enjoys being with him because he makes life easier. That’s what men do, they man up and take responsibility. They do the hard thing. They make long term choices. They don’t think, “How can I be happy today,” they think, “looking back from old age, what is the right decision?” They take responsibility. They take 100% ownership of their lives to improve it. They control their appetites, they can delay their gratification.

Because a man thinks life is about serving those around him, a man realizes his strength isn’t about winning everything. Sometimes it takes more strength not to win and help others win. That’s what Jesus did for you. He doesn’t have to have the coolest, biggest or most expensive in everything he does because he isn’t comparing himself to others. They think being a man is spiritual, they are able to see their role in God’s bigger story. Being a winner or a looser isn’t even a thought to him. He is just himself. That’s how men live.

If you are dating or married to a man, they give you stability in your life. You can trust them. You can relax around them because you know they have the character to do the right thing. Don’t complain or criticize this guy, love him and celebrate him because men, real men, are rare these days.

Just real fast. Boys trying to be men can be hurt or wounded. So they struggle. They are stuck in hurt. How do you know? They are normally caught in high school memories. They constantly think about what happened yesterday, spin in that, never leave. They are too safe, too comfortable, never want to take a risk. Chances are, maybe, they have been wounded.

Leaving the immaturity of being a boy and growing up into the responsibility of being a man is the struggle of every guy. If you are a boy, regardless of age, you don’t want to grow up because it requires something of you. It requires character and responsibility. If you made the decision to be a man, you discovered, this is hard! You’re living life and you don’t feel like you were prepared for it. You find yourself giving and giving and not getting what you want back. This is why most men have a heart that is tired, dry and beaten down. Because of this, men can become passive, they do the easy thing. Or they can become robotic rule followers who get a lot of work done. Or they can be angry and destructive to themselves and those around them. Some go to church and try and try and try to be nice.

This is what the FIGHT series is all about. How to be a man. To have the heart that is full of passion and joy. To give your strength to protect and give life to those around you. How to engage your friends, wife, kids and community. God’s presence left Samson. Why? Because he took his strength for granted and wasted it.

Today, I want to close by giving you one step to take. First, understand that being a man, a real man, is spiritual. So it would make sense that the first step in being a man is a spiritual step.

Here is what happened to Samson.  They captured him and burned his eyes out. They made him grind wheat for the rest of his life. Then at a party they had years later, they brought him out to make fun of him.  This is what is recorded.  Samson cried out to GOD: Master, GOD! Oh, please, look on me again, Oh, please, give strength yet once more. God! With one avenging blow let me be avenged On the Philistines for my two eyes! Then Samson reached out to the two central pillars that held up the building and pushed against them, one with his right arm, the other with his left. Saying, “Let me die with the Philistines,” Samson pushed hard with all his might. The building crashed on the tyrants and all the people in it. He killed more people in his death than he had killed in his life. MSG Judges 16:28-30

Samson humbled himself and asked God for help. With that one step, God entered his life and gave him strength again. Guys, how do you want your story to end? How do you want people to remember you? As a boy or as a man? Your first step back to God is simple, cry out to God.