Men Are Protectors
Adolescent boys often do crazy things like drinking, smoking, and carousing with girls to prove that they are men. But are these the types of qualities that really distinguish men as men? Pastor Brian Tome talks about the five marks of a man, beginning with protection. Tome reminds men that they exist to protect those around them, either physically or through their wisdom. Men who stay boys, on the other hand, are predators.
About the Guest
Brian Tome talks about the five marks of a man, beginning with protection. Tome reminds men that they exist to protect those around them. Men who stay boys, on the other hand, are predators.
Men Are Protectors
Bob: Every young man needs the affirmation of his father. God the Father modeled that in His relationship with His son, Jesus. Here’s Pastor Brian Tome.
Brian: What was the best day in Jesus’ life was? Do you know what I think the best day in His life was? It was when He was getting baptized and He heard a voice from Heaven; it was His heavenly Father saying, “This is My Son in Whom I am well pleased.”
If you haven’t heard that from your dad you want him to look you in the eyes, put his hand on your shoulders and say, “Son you’ve done well. I’m proud of you.”
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Wednesday, May 1st. Our hosts are Dave and Ann Wilson, and I'm Bob Lepine. How can we help young men today embrace and understand God’s design for masculinity? We’ll talk with Pastor Brian Tome about that today. Stay with us.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us.
Ann, I have a sense that you and I could probably just leave because I don’t think we’re going to get a word in edgewise in the conversation today!
Ann: I agree with that, Bob. This could be a crazy day.
Dave: That’s the way it should be, isn’t it? [laughter] That’s how I like to run my home.
Ann: Just you by yourself?
Dave: It actually is not how I want to run my home at all.
Bob: I was going to say, if you do run your home that way it will be just you by yourself.
Ann: And that would not be good!
Bob: What we’re going to talk about today is something you’re passionate about—
Dave: Oh, yes!
Bob: —and we’re going to talk with a guy you’re pretty good friends with.
Dave: Yes! I’m really excited to have Brian Tome in the studio today to talk about manhood.
Bob: Brian is the pastor at Crossroads Church in Cincinnati. A big church. How many campuses did you say?
Bob: You and your wife have how many kids?
Brian: Three kids, 27, 25, and 20.
Bob: Oh, I thought you were starting to tell me grandkids when you said 27!
Brian: Oh! We’ve got one of those, and he’s seven months!
Bob: And you are as passionate as your friend, Dave Wilson is, on the subject of helping guys understand what’s at the core of being a man.
Brian: Well, Yes! I’m a man so I’m interested in the things that I am, right? So I am a man. And I notice there is a massive outage in helping men understand what it is to be a man in our culture, especially when you go in to the realm of churches and Christianity. I don’t if you have looked around the church you are a part of, if you are, if you look around, if you have an average church, 70% of everybody there will be a female, 30% will be a male. That’s if you’re average. We’re not connecting well with men.
Ann: Why is that?
Brian: There’s a lot of theories about that. It’s interesting it’s not a religion thing. If you go to Islam, men are incredibly devoted and incredibly present. There’s a lot of theories as to why that is. I’m not sure which one I buy into all I know is the way we’ve been talking to men, the way we’ve been trying to reach men is not working and it hasn’t worked in our culture is bearing the scars of that right now.
Bob: Okay, I’ve got to just start with the elephant in the room, it’s the folks who are listening who are going, why are we segmenting men and women and we live in a culture that it’s a more enlightened culture now. This idea that men are supposed to act one way and women are supposed to act another. We know better than that today.
Brian: We do live in an enlightened culture and we’re wrong! We’re wrong. Of course, when we talk about relationships with the genders, hey, I’ll be the first person in line that says that “stereo-typical” masculinity in America has not necessarily been helpful. But we have to understand that men and women are different. We can all agree with that if we just look at each other, right?
There are unique ways to speak to a man that men are not being spoken to. I think that’s why we have things like #METOO movements because people are not speaking to our young males in a way that enables them to grow up actually into mature godly males.
Dave: So what happened, where did this passion and this burden come from for you to say I got to speak to men, I got to speak to boys to men so much so that it’s not only a series you’ve did at your church but ended up being a book? Where did that start?
Brian: It started with my own life. The story which has so many things that I’m just not very proud of. I was adopted at birth, very, very thankful for my parents. As I went through childhood and got into adolescence in junior high and high school, I just started doing more and more crazy, stupid, immature things. Whether it was vandalism, smashing mailboxes with baseball bats, whether it was doing things with young women or not doing things with young women and lying about it thinking I was making myself look kind of more manly.
I recognized as I started growing in Christ, around 21-22, I think what I was doing was trying to prove that I was a man. I didn’t necessarily like doing those things, I was trying to prove that I was a man. I started doing reading and research on this and recognized that every ancient culture and many cultures today in the world still have a rite of passage ceremony where men tell a young male you’re not a boy any longer, you’re a man.
I said if I ever have a child, if I ever have a young baby boy, I’m going give him something that my dad never gave me. I had that opportunity when my son, Jake, was born. He was placed on the delivery table and he proceeded to send a stream of urine up in the air that hit my shoulder and rolled all the way down my arm. I looked at him and he seemed to be happy with what he did. [Laughter]
I thought to myself, you know what, if I don’t get a hold of this little guy, he’s going to do to me just what I did to my dad. This little guy’s defecating on me right now and that’s kind of humorous, but that’s really what I did with my dad. I really was a terror for him. I recognize that things with my son were going to be different and that caused me to be a student of manhood, masculinity, swearing-in rites. What actually is a man?
Dave: When did you find out when Brian Tome became a man? When did that happen? Where did you study? Where’d you go?
Brian: I honestly don’t know when I became a man, Dave. I don’t know when I did because to this day no one still told me. What was the best day in Jesus’ life? Do you know what I think the best day in His life was? It was when He was getting baptized and He heard a voice from Heaven; it was His heavenly Father saying, “This is My Son in Whom I am well pleased.”
I’ll tell you right now, if there are any male listeners listening right now, I know if you haven’t heard that from your dad, you want to hear that from him right now! I don’t care if you’re a 50-year-old millionaire. If you’ve got a 75-year-old dad you want him to look you in the eyes, put his hand on your shoulder and say, “Son you’ve done well. I’m proud of you.”
I think Jesus got that from His Heavenly Father right then. That’s when His life started on a whole new level. I think that was the best day in His life. I think the second-best day of His life was when He was with His friends at what’s known as the Transfiguration. He was there with Peter, James, and John. The presence of God and the place, and then He heard it again. It’s interesting, the very first time—we’re not sure exactly if everyone heard His Father say, ‘This is My Beloved Son in whom I am well pleased’, the text is really unclear.
But this time absolutely everyone hears, He’s authenticated it in front of people, ‘This is My Son in whom I am well pleased’. I knew I needed to tell my son that or he was going to be a wrestling boy for the rest of his life. That’s the premise of why I wrote the book, Five Marks of a Man, it’s that there are 15-year-old men and there are 45-year-old boys.
Not all of us might have been told you are a man. But if we’re told that life is going to be much simpler for us, then before I told my son that, I needed to do some research on exactly what a man was. And that was basically the content of the book.
Ann: I think this is really important, too, for women who are listening because there are many moms that are raising sons. I think it is easy, too, even after myself raising three sons, a lot of people think well, this is just boys, this is common. They’re out getting drunk, they’re out partying. But if there isn’t a father either in the home or even involved in his son’s life, what do we do as women, how do we do this?
Brian: I think the marks that are mentioned here are very important for women to understand; not just as they help their boys grow up but for women who are not married to help them select the right spouse. I can’t tell you how many people I have heard from where they realize I was going to marry this guy, I’m waiting for him to ask me, I’m glad he hasn’t because I’m dating a boy. I’m dating a boy!
Bob: To Ann’s question though, as a mom, you talk about a dad validating his son, does a mom validate and imprintin a son that you’re a man?
Brian: No question, a mom validates, no question a mom impacts, no question she’s important. But my studies show me that a man needs to tell a male he’s a man. One of the stories I have in the book, I just heard it when I was on the final stages of putting together all the material was a guy I met who was from Africa.
In his village, this happened to him, the men in this village come up to the doorway of the hut, they knock on the door and the mother comes and the young boy comes up behind her. She tries to shield the young boy from the rest of the men in the tribe. They try to coax him out, and say come on, you need to come with us. She doesn’t want her little boy to go and if he doesn’t fight his way past her, past her skirt to go out to the men, they give up on him.
Then next year they come back again and if the same scene repeats itself where she keeps him away, this time they will reach in and physically grab her son and yank him out of the house and take him up to the hills and bring him into manhood. When he comes back the tables are now turned because instead of the mother taking care of him, now he is expected to take care of his mother.
Brian: Now he’s supposed to bring food for the family.
Bob: I’m just curious, did you experience what that mother in Africa might have experienced with her son, as you were raising three boys were there times when their manhood is emerging, and you’re like, No! I want you to stay a little boy?
Ann: Yes! My husband basically yanked them from me!
Dave: That would be me! What do you mean? I don’t know what you’re talking about.
Ann: It’s funny, I did want to protect them from death.
Brian: You felt this!
Brian: You felt this in your home to keep them behind you.
Ann: I’m not a passive woman, I’m a strong woman, I like adventure. I’m pretty gutsy and yet when Dave would take them, I really did think he’s going to kill them!
Bob: Take them where? To do what?
Ann: Many things! Like he would take them out snowmobiling, he would take them on these adventures hiking. And I would be like, are you going to feed them, he’d go, I don’t know, maybe. [Dave laughs]
Dave: Part of my mission was what Brian started with, this DNA, and it’s in women as well, but definitely in a man, for adventure and risk! I knew that as a dad of three sons, again I never had a dad do this, so I wasn’t watching and copying a model. I had a mom, a single mom, who put me with other men, coaches, teachers—
Ann: Which was a wise thing for her to do.
Dave: —very wise to do, because she, like you said Brian, she said, I can help my son become a man but I need a man in his life. Men become men in the community of men. She knew that.
I know now I’m a dad. I want to change the Wilson name, the Wilson legacy! I’m like, I’ve got to get these guys out and expose them to what they are made for: risk, adventure. There were times when Ann would literally go in the house. I’m not trying to break an arm, and take my boy to the hospital, but if it happens, okay, we’re going to figure that out. She was a little bit more reserved on that. What are you doing? I’m like, this is good for them. This helps a boy become a man.
Ann: He’d be out on the snowmobile and I’m like, does he have a helmet on? Is it strapped? Sometimes it wasn’t. I would watch them go and I would go in the house and I would pray my guts off. I don’t know what’s going to happen but I also know that they wanted to be this with their dad. There was something that was going to happen out there, this adventure thing, the risky part of it, they would light up.
Dave: I’ll add this, and I’d love to hear what you think of this, Brian, because I know it’s in your book. It wasn’t just adventure for adventure sake, it was part of it even in the adolescent stage of 12,13, 14. I was trying to set a pattern for now we’re going to take a risk for something that matters. We ended up going to Africa. We ended up going to places to say we’re going to do something that has eternal purpose that’s what men do, they impact the world. Let’s go! It wasn’t a lot different than jumping on a snowmobile, we’re jumping on a plane. Let’s go somewhere—
Ann: To help people with AIDS.
Dave: —go somewhere that’s going to change the world. Let’s go as men and be protectors. Talk about this.
Brian: Yes! There is a recklessness that young males have that we need to see is really a good thing. It really is! What’s not good is when that recklessness hurts somebody else. You just mentioned being a protector. That’s one of the marks! That’s one of the marks that I came across.
By the way, you say, where did you get these marks? What I did, I went in the mind of every single male I had ever met who I respected, every single one. All the biographies, I love biographies, all the biographies I’ve read that inspired me, all the traits that I saw in movies, certain scenes that really inspired me.
You know what my favorite scenes of all movies I’ve ever seen? The Patriot, with Mel Gibson. The scene where he takes his young boys out to battle and he sticks a rifle in their hand. These kids are like I, I can’t use—You can do this! He says, aim small, miss small. I cry every time when I see that because you see here an older male conferring trust on a younger male, saying you can do what you don’t think you can do and you can protect me and you can protect your brother and the others they are trying to kill.
Bob: Okay, you know as we are talking about this, there are people who have got this alarm bells going off. This is toxic masculinity, this is hyper masculinity, this is what’s wrong with the culture. Guys like Brian are trying to get boys to shoot guns and Dave’s taking them out and breaking their arms. What’s going on? You understand that there are people reacting to this toxic masculinity.
Brian: The reason that why art taps into us so deeply is because it taps into something we can’t even articulate. I’m not excited about giving some kid a musket and having him shoot somebody. No! I’ve never shot somebody, I would never have my son shoot somebody.
But it’s this value that’s there; you are there to protect, you’re there to protect! Of all the things we’re seeing in our culture that men are not protecting, I’m one of the guys that’s saying, you know why our culture is so-and-so? It’s because there are a bunch of boys who are not protecting.
Bob: I think we need to make the point when you talk in your book about a man being a protector, you juxtapose that with a boy being a predator and not a protector. It’s a boy who is using his male aggression to serve himself rather than to protect others.
Brian: Yes. Men are protectors, boys are predators. As I said before there are 15-year-old men and there are 45-year-old boys. Some of the high profile abuses that we’ve seen in the media of men who have abused their authority, their power and taken advantage of women.
My question always is: where are all the weenie boys around them? Where were they? They all go, ‘I never knew, I never saw this stuff.’ Oh, yes you did! Yes you did! You heard how that guy talked in the absence of women. You saw some of the choices he made in his life. You might not have seen the event going down, but you absolutely knew this guy had an issue with women, an issue with power, and you didn’t do anything about it. There’s a level of passivity in the males in our country that we’re feeling and we’re all smarting from.
Bob: This is just one of five marks you talk about in your book. Again, Dave, this is something that I know—just hearing Brian talk—I’m watching you, you want to come out of your seat and go, yes! Yes!
Brian: Sorry Dave, I get to talk and not you!
Dave: I’m fine, as I read your book, I told you, I feel like it’s a moment in history that men, boys, dads, moms, all need to read because it’s such a need. It’s always has been but our culture, our world, is in a place. I’m excited! We haven’t even talked about the five marks yet!
Ann: I have some mixed feelings about this as I’m listening to you because in our culture, what has had to happen for women is that we’ve had to become strong because there hasn’t been anyone to protect us. There’s a part of me that’s a strong person, there’s a little part of me that thinks, do I need a man to protect me? Am I not strong enough? I think that’s been developed by a passive culture of men, honestly.
Because there’s another part that’s like, wow! If men stood up and lived up to what God has called them to do and be as protectors, that sounds pretty amazing. But there’s also that part that—I think there’s women that think, I’m strong enough, I’m raising my sons, I’m raising my daughters. I’m working two jobs so I can do that. So, I have this mixed thing, l love it. I resonate with it and yet I think, m-m-m, I wonder what some women are thinking.
Bob: Well, I think we will hear what some women are thinking as we continue this conversation this week. I would encourage listeners to work their way through this book. Get a copy. Husbands and wives read through it together. There may be parts you say I don’t agree with that. Okay! That’s a good conversation to have. Figure out for yourself. You’ve got to decide what are you going to resonate with. What are you going to do? How are you going to respond and act?
We’ve got the book in our FamilyLife Today Resource Center, you can go online to order a copy. The Five Marks of a Man, Finding Your Path to Courageous Manhood, by Brian Tome. Order it from us on FamilyLifeToday.com. or call to order, 1-800-FLTODAY.
Let me suggest this, too. If you’re the father of a teenage son, I’m thinking junior, or senior in high school, maybe he’s in his first or second year in college. This summer get together with other dads and sons for a total of ten nights over the summer. Just spread them out all summer long and get together and all of you go through the Stepping Up® video series that we put together here at FamilyLife. This is a great series for every father to go through with other dads.
But it’s also a great series to interact with teenage sons. Help them begin thinking about what it is to be a man, to assume responsibility, to step away from passivity. We’ve got
copies of the Stepping Up video series along with Dennis Rainey’s book, Stepping Up in our FamilyLife Today Resource Center.
Make this a project you can do this summer! Can you think of three or four other dads you could get together with their sons? Have a cook-out once a week and go through these videos? Order the series from us on our website, FamilyLifeToday.com, or call, 1-800-FLTODAY to get a copy of the Stepping Up video series, or Dennis Rainey’s Stepping Up book, or again, The Five Marks of a Man by Brian Tome.
All of it’s available online at FamilyLifeToday.com or call to order at 1-800- FLTODAY. 1-800-358-6329.
One of the things Brian talked about today is the significance of, kind of recognizing that you have graduated from boyhood to manhood. It’s that First Corinthians 13, “I used to think like a child, now I think like a man.”
The President of FamilyLife, David Robbins is here. That is a significant transition period in our lives, isn’t it?
David: Yes.It immediately made me think of a friend who’s a missionary overseas and was recently at a gathering with missionaries from all over the world. He was telling me this story of being around a fire after dinner with a group of men and there were people from all over Europe and Africa and Australia and there two Americans around the fire.
The conversation turned to when did you know that you were a man? All of a sudden everyone around the fire started naming specific dates, specific years, specific moments where they were affirmed as a man and they knew they were a man: rites of passage, and thresholds that they crossed, distinct ceremonies declaring them to be men.
The two Americans were the last to go and they looked at each other and they just shared, we know, we think we’re men. We’re 35 and have young kids, but to hear your stories, man, there is something in our journey, even though we had good parents, I don’t, I can’t define it. I don’t know when.
There’s no doubt that there’s a serious degree of confusion about manhood in America. And Christians are not immune to that and if anything, we are in the thick of the conversation and need to step boldly into the conversation. This is an important topic we’ve got to face head on.
As a man and a father of three boys, I’m glad we’re having the conversation, I’m glad we’re being honest today, I’m challenged by it and it moves me to take intentional action. I am grateful for having some mentors do a rites of passage ceremony with me. It was a little later, I think, then I wanted. It was when I was 18, but it was a defining moment in my life. I want to have those types of defining moments for my kids.
Bob: I remember talking to a dad who’s his son was in his teenage years, kind of goofing off. I said take your son through the Stepping Up video series and then have one of those rites of passage moments with him when you guys get done with the series. Again, a great way for dads and sons to get involved and go through the content we’ve got here at FamilyLife. The information is online at FamilyLifeToday.com. Thank you, David.
I want to make sure our listeners also know about a special opportunity that is available to them this month. We’ve had some friends of the ministry who have come together and offered to match any donation that we receive as a ministry during this month on a dollar-for-dollar basis up to a total of $550,000. They’ve agreed they’ll do that if you make a one-time donation. If you sign on to become a monthly Legacy Partner to make a donation each month, they will match every donation you make over the next 12 months, dollar for dollar, again, until the matching gift fund is gone.
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If you can help out with a one-time gift or by becoming a Legacy Partner, go to FamilyLifeToday.com, make your gift online. Or sign up online as a Legacy Partner or call 1-800-FLTODAY to donate over the phone. Again, thanks for your partnership with us, thanks for making practical, biblical help and hope available to couples and families in your neighborhood and all across the country. We appreciate you.
We hope you can join us back tomorrow when we’re going to talk about how it’s possible to look at biblical examples of masculinity and get the wrong impression. Brian Tome will be with us to talk about that tomorrow. Hope you can be with us as well.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, along with our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our hosts, Dave and Ann Wilson, I’m Bob Lepine. We will see you back next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
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