If you’re a man, I have good news for you, and I have sobering news for you.

The good news: you matter. Despite the questions our society often raises about the value of men, and especially fathers (think Homer Simpson), you have a deeply important calling as a man. Your presence and your words have an enormous impact on those around you.

The sobering news: you matter. Your words and presence have impact, but that impact can go either way. It can bring life, security and blessing into the lives of others, especially our wives and children—or, as I wrote in Part I (The bad news), it can bring fear, shame and violence.

In my work as a minister to men, I regularly encounter men who question their value and competency. In fact a deep, hidden doubt in their ability to effectively manage the requirements of their lives is one of the most common traits I see in men.

A few years ago I met a 30-something man who seemed to have the world by the tail. He was the hotshot CEO of a growing company; he had a trophy wife, a beautiful home in the suburbs and a red convertible Porsche he drove at ridiculous speeds to work every morning. He apparently had it all.

Then one morning he called me. “Craig,” he said, “I’m on the shoulder of the expressway. I’m heading into a meeting with my board. They know everything. They know my lies, my cheating and my cover-ups. I can’t pull this thing off any more. They know the truth about me—I’m ruined.” Then he burst into tears.

Henry David Thoreau had it right when he said, “Most men lead lives of quiet desperation and go to the grave with the song still in them.” That’s just as true today as it was in his time.

The only difference is that the desperation these days is not as quiet. How else can we explain the unbelievable risks so many men take to pursue that forbidden affair, to pad their wallets while their employees lose jobs and homes, to bilk others of billions of dollars in hollow financial schemes?

What’s going on here?

What’s going on is that men have fallen for the lie that their value is defined by their prestige, power or possessions. Too many men believe that they matter to others solely because they have the world’s external badges that prove their worth. At the same time they know the truth beneath the surface: they wrestle with fear, anger, confusion, exhaustion.

The internal conflict these men live with, the demands of keeping the secrets or keeping pace with expectations, results in men who either passively give up or violently take their rage out on those who least deserve it. You know some men like this. You may be this man.

In Psalm 139, we learn that all men and women have deep intrinsic value because we were knit together by the God of the universe. Even before we were born, God knew us and formed us uniquely, regardless of gender. But when God chose to reveal himself to mankind, he did so as Father and as Son. It turns out, this matters.

When God revealed himself as a father, He laid a spiritual mantle on all men who would follow. The presence and words of men carry a message of love and grace—or of judgment and condemnation. Children believe what their fathers say about them, and how they treat them, whether it is a message of blessing or of shame. And they make the assumption that God agrees.

Children view God through the lens of their father. Many of you reading these words know from personal experience that this is true.

Even Jesus was impacted by words of blessing from His Father. We know that Jesus was largely unseen for 30 years, until the day he was baptized. “And a voice from heaven said, ‘This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.’” (Matt. 3:17) The Father gave His Son words of identification; He gave words of love; and He gave words of pride. With that blessing from the Father, the Son changed the history and future of the world.

Here is one of the most amazing principles of fathering I know: A boy’s primary model for masculinity comes from his father. A girl’s primary model for femininity comes from her mother. A boy receives endorsement of the innate value of his masculinity—that he has what it takes—from his father. A girl receives endorsement of the innate value of her femininity, that she is worth loving—from her father as well.

This is the impact of the words and presence of a  father: he bestows blessing, significance and identity. When a father withholds blessing and affirmation from his son, the son will look for it in a community of other men through performance or destruction. Or else he will retreat into anger, defeat and passivity.

When a father withholds blessing and affirmation from his daughter, she will look for it in the words and the arms of another man. It doesn’t necessarily matter who that man is; it just needs to be a man. Again, some of you women reading this already know this from personal experience.

Mothers deeply impact the lives of their children, and they seem to intuitively understand this. The vast majority of moms sacrificially give their lives to bring love, safety, nurture, belonging and presence into the lives of their kids.

It’s men who so often seem to confuse their value and doubt their role. Men are called to speak words of blessing into the lives of others, whether to their wives, their children or other men. But so often men simply swallow the lie of our culture that tells them, “Your value is in what you own, wear, drive, control, build or destroy.”

Men matter. Deeply. They just don’t think so. That’s why the core message I give them is that that their value has nothing to do with the external trappings the world esteems.

  • I urge men to understand their deep value simply because of Who created them. On purpose.
  • I urge them to embrace their roles as men by bringing blessing into the lives of others, whether as sons, brothers, husbands or fathers. On purpose.
  • And I urge them to live out the unique personal calling that God has placed on them through their giftedness and their healed wounds. They have purpose.

The words, presence and touch of men helps confirm the profound significance of women, children and other men. Men reflect, well or poorly, how God feels about us.

Bottom line, men matter because they convince others how much they matter to God.