What does a successful man look like? Ask 100 people and you’ll probably get  100 different answers. No doubt there are a lot of misguided notions about what masculinity is and isn’t, but it’s safe to say that there are some key principles about successful manhood that hold true across all cultures and communities.  

A boy’s most important role model is his father. Every young boy looks to his father or older man to teach and model to him what it means to be a man. Sadly, there is a real shortage of engaged fathers and genuine male role models actively mentoring boys into manhood. In the absence of good fathering and mentoring, young men take their cue from the media and their peers. They look at rock stars and movie characters, politicians and CEO’s and conclude that masculinity is all about sex, power, money and being tough. They grow up believing that real men don’t cry, that it’s not cool to be vulnerable. Their image of a real man is someone who always has it together, who is strong, cool, independent and going places. 

The place of men in society is also not as clear as it used to be.  Today there are more women graduating from university than men (in SA nearly 60% of university students are female), more and more women are in positions of power and it’s not unusual for a woman to be the main breadwinner. A lot of men feel uncertain about what is expected of them and live with the secret fear that they don’t have what it takes to be the man the world needs them to be. 

The result of all of this is a lot of confusion and misconceptions about what it means to be a man. The damage caused by misused masculinity is evident throughout the world. One social commentator went as far as saying that the epidemic of an unfathered man and woman has caused more damage to humanity than war and disease combined. There has never been a more critical need for men to know what authentic masculinity looks like. American author Robert Lewis offers great insight into the difference between authentic and false manhood.

There has never been a more critical need for men to know what authentic masculinity looks like

Every man needs to choose between authentic manhood and false manhood. The choice is simple: will you be a man who loves, builds, serves, protects and takes full responsibility or will you be a man who takes, uses, lives for yourself and avoids responsibility. The difference that this will make to your family, loved ones and society is huge. Authentic manhood makes the world a better place, false manhood causes pain. Men who define themselves by their character, values and the way they treat others are a great gift to society; men who seek power, money and success at all costs are a curse. Men who are more concerned with what they add to the world than what they can take from it build society; men who are just in it for themselves break it down. Men who use their strength well create a safe world, men who misuse their strength make the world a dangerous place. 

Success for a man is measured more by the strength of his character than the strength of his arms. Being rich in heart and spirit is far more important than being rich in money. It’s possible for a poor man to leave behind the richest heritage because it matters far more what you leave in someone than what you leave for them. 

As a man, ask yourself, what kind of world you want to create for your loved ones? What kind of man do you want to be? And answer well. Precious lives depend on it and you as the man in their lives have everything it takes to be what they need. 

The place of men in society is not as clear as it used to be 



Authentic masculinity focusses on: 

  • What a man is 
  • Community with other men
  • Purpose 
  • Legacy
  • Significance

False masculinity focusses on: 

  • What a man does
  • Competition with other men
  • Power
  • Material gain
  • Success

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