Sunday, May 07, 2006

So when did I become a man?

This Friday is a public holiday and we are gearing up for our first men's conference. As I started developing conference lessons, I wondered when I became a man.

First I have a confession to make. I'm a man. No, that's not the confession. The confession is that I don't know when I became one.

I've been male since my mother's egg was fertilised. At birth I became a boy and that was affirmed frequently all the way through kindergarden. Bad boy. Good boy. Boys will be boys. What do you expect from a small-town boy?

So when did I become a man?

At age 10 I got kissed by a girl. She was a year older and she was my neighbour. Then I caught a crocodile when I was 11. I trapped it with chicken pieces in a large mouse trap with a knife. Our gardener and maid knew what I was doing and the risks involved, but let this 11-year-old kid go ahead and trusted me not to injure or kill myself. The next morning I was surprised that it worked. It was not a small reptile. Our gardener, my brother and I hung it so we could skin it from the underbelly. Mom cooked it with herbs. It tasted like kampong chicken. When it was all said and done, no one proclaimed me a newly made man.

Then I was sent to an overseas boarding school. This was a boys school. At ages 17 to 18, I played competitive rugby. If I had committed a crime then, I could have gone to jail since I was no longer a minor. In the eyes of law, I was an adult, yet I know I was still was very much a kid.

I got my drivers license when I turned 19, as many guys did. For some, this is the defining event. It wasn't for me, though there are aspects of that day that could be considered an initiation into manhood. My mom, my instructor and the entire system trusted me with the operation of a 1-ton piece of machinery that could go 200 km an hour. I could have done some serious damage but showed enough maturity to handle it. For the most part, I was careful. For all the stupid things I've done behind the wheel, I never did anything worse than knock into a trash can. But driving didn't make me a man and wasn't recognised as passage into manhood, despite the fact that I gained rights and responsibilities.

At some point, I became a man, without any clear indication it had happened. The obvious thought would be that since I was a boy all through school, the transformation took place in university. Or did I become a man when I first took a job, paid my own rent and put food on my own table. Was I a man then?

Society doesn't seem to notice the lack of transitions until we do something wrong that proves we aren't the men we should be. This will be the starting point of my discussion with the guys on Friday.


Anonymous said...

Perhaps the notion of manhood seemed vague in our current society unlike in the older generation whereby they went throught different initiation to progress into manhood.

The Men's conference will be an excellent time to learn the biblical prespectives of manhood so that all men will be equip to face the path ahead in become a spiritual man.

I'm grateful for a Pastor like you who set exemplary standards for the congregation to follow. :-)

Joshua Ng said...

For some (perhaps for Singaporeans), maybe manhood happens when they enter the army, when they take on serious responsibilities, like how an officer will look after a whole platoon of fellow soldiers, how a sergeant would do the same for his section and sub-section of a platoon. When kids learn to pick up a rifle and be responsible enough not to lose it somewhere or discharge it indiscriminately, because the consequences are grave.

Anonymous said...

I believe manhood is when one learns his real purpose in life and seek and do actions for it, how our Lord at the age of twelve know He is doing His Father's work.

Many people have the wrong conceptions as some look at manhood when they reach a certain age, what the law quotes or even certain things they do to prove a man. I believe also a man know his real direction, obey the correct things and make decisions.

The man's conference is an excellent place when all the real man in God's sight is set for their purpose and direction.

What do you think Ps Ben?

ben kc lee said...

Eugene, that's right. The men's conference is an excellent time to be equipped as God's man. Thanks for your kind words.

Indeed Joshua. Some S'porean men consider the national service experience as the point they became a man.

Yes Lester. Manhood is fulfilling God's purpose for you. the men's conference is an excellent place when real men get motivated. trust you were blessed at the conference.

yeu@nn said...

Hi Ps Ben, think just want to pop in a few words. Hmm... yeah we really should have had this conference a LONG time ago, just like you said. ;) Because I learnt a lot of things and this conference helped to correct a key misconception of mine that has been hindering me in many areas - "nice guys not equal to good guys".

Think if that's the only thing I remember, I think that's the best thing I'll remember.

Thank God for the teachings... my brothers in the CG, unit and sub-D have been discussing ferociously abt this last week, and yup, we are reaching the conclusion that most of the brothers are too nice - as in too passive, etc. So we're finally taking action and going to the _front_line. Personally, I think the sisters are going to be very blessed when they see the effects of the conference... LOL!

Thank God for you and the other MEN who helped make the conference a success. We want more!


ben kc lee said...

Yeu Ann, thanks for your encouraging note. yeah we should have had this LONG time ago. great you learnt and cleared that misconception. I'm so pleased the guys in the CG, unit and sub-D have been discussing ferociously. It's very exciting that you guys are taking action and going to the front line. Indeed the gals are going to be v blessed when they see the effects of the conference. Yes, we all want more!