As Christian men and boys becoming men, beyond the norm is more than just living different moral standards. It is a relational life pursuit to live for Christ and others whereby God's presence in our lives compels His excellence. Anything less and we will quickly find ourselves riding a wake of cultural normalcy; we are no longer just "in" the world, we have become "of" it and one with it.
Unfortunately, for many generations, our men have defined their identities and purpose in life by what they do versus who they are. Sadly, this is the generational legacy we have handed down to our boys for many years. When we do this, we are inherently uplifting the outer attribute of a man and paying little attention to his inner character.
It is a true statement that a man's character is the same regardless of the circumstance. Character reveals what a person looks like on the inside at any given time or situation; it remains constant regardless of condition. In this context, it is a man's character that drives him toward action in spite of what others may think.
From God's perspective, it is the character of a man and not his competence that represents the most vital trait of a man. Point being, before God, a man's character is the driving force that directs a man's heart.
When God chose David to be king, His decision wasn't based on David's outward physical strength or mental acuity. Instead, God chose the young shepherd boy on the basis of his heart for the Lord. As men, this needs to be our highest life priority—to cultivate our hearts and the hearts of our sons for the Lord.
Over the past decade or two, I've been blessed to teach boys at retreats and church programs. One verse I always have them put to memory is Micah 6:8. I let them know that so much of our masculine calling as men is wrapped up in this God-given mandate: To uplift justice in standing for what is right, to love mercy in our effort to forgive others as God has forgiven us, and to humbly walk before our God in service to Him and others.
For every married man out there, the apostle Paul places the application of this verse in the dead center of every marriage. As a husband, my highest purpose is to lay my life down for my wife—just as Christ did for His church. Relationally, this practically means God is first, my wife second, and I'm last. This pursuit will be one of the most influential "beyond the norm" teaching lessons I can ever give to my sons as well as my daughters.
The world is attempting to court our sons and daughters every day. As a father, it is my daily goal to engage their hearts and minds for the Lord. By God grace, I can live beyond the norm of this day and call out to my sons, "follow me as I follow Christ." Will you join me?