What It Means to “Man Up”



(Man Up in Uganda with the Karamajon people)

You’ve heard the term before – “Man Up” means a whole lot of stuff in our culture. It’s been a sitcom, a rap song, a book, a sexual enhancement pill, featured in the NY Times, different variations of ministries; politicians use it, coaches use it, wives use it, moms use it, dudes use it, it trends on Twitter, and it has its own Wiktionary page.

We all know what it means. The Urban Dictionary has its fair share of colorful definitions, one of which I feel comfortable sharing: “stop being such a complete and utter wuss.”

Yup. That nails it.

Stop being such a wuss, dude (and that’s making it PG for everyone). The politically correct hate this term,  and so does the blogger Jezebel, who thinks we should be using the term “Human Up” instead.  [Insert eyes rolling.]  As if men and women were androgynous twins with no discernible difference.

No one wants to be on the receiving end of, “Hey, you really need to Man Up,” because it means you’ve just been called out.  NO ONE likes to be called out.  The apostle John describes all of us well when he writes about “the pride of life” in his first epistle.  A man hates to be told he’s a wuss, because at the root of all men is PRIDE.

I’m not talking about the good kind of pride, where your child learns how to walk for the first time, gets a A on a test, or knocks in the winning run of his Little League baseball game.  I’m talking about that deep, dark, despicable place in the recesses of our hearts where we insist on being right, even though we know it’s possible we might be wrong.

The truth is, we’ve been wrong for a long time when it comes to the orphans and widows of this world.  We’ve been busy, preoccupied, driven by peripheral ambitions instead of the lasting ones.  And now in America we have a culture where divorce is commonplace, family roles are marginalized, and the idea of actually really living a contently joyful life have been swept up in Leave it to Beaver’s dust.

We want to change that.

So what does Man Up mean?  It means a lot of stuff.  But right now, it means that we GO to the orphan and widow and take care of them in their distress.  We fulfill the call of James 1:27. And Isaiah 1:17. And a hundred other mandates by our loving Father in heaven.

One by one. Man by man (and woman by woman).  We go.

There are between 147-210 million orphans in the world, depending on who you talk to, and each and every one of them is dying for us, in many ways literally, to “Man UP” and help them out.

Stop being a wuss. Stop making excuses. And start being the hands and feet of Jesus.