In not particular order, here are my nine essential manly virtues with short descriptions. I hope to post longer explanations of each over the next few weeks. These come out of some reading I have been doing of late and my own ponderings about what it means to be a man. It goes beyond what we sometimes think about maleness. Seeking after all of these will make any male into a truly rounded man.
(1) Intelligence: the greatest men have also been the greatest thinkers and quick wits. That gray matter between your ears is one of your biggest assets, so train it and use it wisely.
(2) Sophistication: every man should know how to dress well, groom himself, and have enough manners to attend a moderately fancy dinner party. The point here is to live with the knowledge that first impressions matter, and to act accordingly.
(3) Passion: a man must have convictions, things he cares about and which stir his soul to wholeheartedly action. He should live life with zest and enthusiasm.
(4) Physical health: One of God’s greatest gifts to us (and one that is seldom appreciated until it is too late) is physical health. A well-rounded man ought to take his muscular strength, cardio-respiratory fitness, and diet into mind and move toward better health.
(5) Integrity: simply put, people want to know what they see is what they get. A real man is not afraid to show people who he really is inside, but also knows it is essential to be disciplined enough with himself to become inside what people see outside. Self-control is the foundation of integrity.
(6) Creativity: by this I mean two things — engaging in the fine arts or some other hobby that allows you to be a creator, be that in the form of a carving piece of wooden furniture, painting a painting, tending flower bed, or rebuilding muscle car. I also mean that one ought to strive to be a creator and contributor in his own life and scociety rather than a passive consumer.
(7) Faith: As a follower of Jesus, I do believe that God created male and female and therefore knows the best plan for each. By being connected with him, we gain his wisdom for our lives and his perspective on how the world works. Long a area of neglect among the “manly men” among us, care for one’s soul and introspection are some of the foundational aspects of living life well.
(8) Courage: By this I simply mean the will to persevere, to go after the frightening things in life, and to march into new territory. We all fear, but we must know what to do with that fear and how to get passed it in order to move forward.
(9) Selflessness: Life cannot be lived for oneself. We are on this earth for a reason, and that is to love and serve others. The real man does make himself the centre of the universe, but is always outward-focused.
I will say that I do not excel in all of these categories. And no man will naturally. But doing the hard work to seek after some of these, especially those that you do not immediately resonate with or do well in, is the key to successful living and well-rounded character. You will always default toward some and be better in these, but let us not give up the quest for growth in these other areas.