Trevin Wax is becoming one of my favorite younger spiritual writers.  He writes about men, many of whom seem lost and lonely in our culture.  His recent blog titled “To Be a Holy Man” caught my attention: “Many today seem to view masculinity as a problem rather than a gift,” he notes.  “How does it make sense to push back against toxic expressions of masculinity without a clear picture of actual manliness, a positive vision that shatters the caricature.”  He then refers to an article by Jeremy Schurke listing 18 characteristic of a man who abides in Christ. 

“We are all acting as first responders,” observes Schurke, “to the scene of a masculinity crisis.”  Men are suffering from “ontological insecurity.”  Schurke believes we need exemplars: “As for the ideal man, I have been really interested in the concept of a Holy Man.”  He sees this as a “first step for a generation of men who are experiencing ontological insecurity.”  Below are Schurke’s descriptors of a Holy Man.  The list is rather long, but I trust you will find it stimulating.  Think of it as a “glorified” bull session on masculinity:

  1. He possesses wild eyes.  He’s not satisfied with the status quo but takes initiative as a difference maker.  He’s a citizen of another world.
  2. He moves mysteriously.  Dallas Willard talked about living  “in another time zone.”  This is the life of a practical mystic.
  3. He revers the sacred everywhere.   He is an everyday mystic, seeing his life as a spiritual adventure.
  4. He establishes rituals, disciplines, and traditions.  He recognizes how habits shape life and character.
  5. He walks a spiritual pilgrimage.  Life is a growing relational process in which one never arrives.
  6. He abides in God.  He desires a consistent and transformative friendship with God.
  7. He seeks a spiritual father.  He chooses close friends and a mentor – for soul care.
  8. He lives for a life mission.  He seeks to know God’s calling and walk in it.
  9. He wants to leave a legacy.  He invests time, talent, and treasure in and for others, seeing life in the larger story of God’s kingdom.
  10. He seeks kindred spirits, and knows he needs to be surrounded by men who will encourage him.
  11. He belongs to a tribe, and realizes he cannot be a “lone ranger.” 
  12. He is a savage servant.  A Holy Man is committed to the team concept of leadership, organization and mission.
  13. He fosters emotional intelligence.  With others, he learns self-awareness, empathy, and interpersonal sensitivity.
  14. He burns with the fire of a poet and walks with a limp.  Being honest about his failings, he leads from a place of love and suffering.
  15. He is a perpetual student.  He is a student of scripture and other spiritual books so as to grow both in mind and heart.
  16. He takes his body seriously.  He appreciates his body, being comfortable in his own skin.  He understands his own sexuality and is committed to the virtue of chastity.
  17. He is consciously countercultural.  He appreciates the goodness of creation and mourns the distortion of sin.
  18. He becomes a saint.  He is committed to a lifelong process of growth, formation, and development, while being consciously set apart for God as a poet, warrior and monk.  He visualizes becoming like Jesus by being Jesus’ apprentice – to walk in his ways and love as he loves.

This is a long list for a short blog.  But these suggestions cast a vision that resonates with my heart.  As Schurke notes, “These steps to being a Holy Man are not easy.  Each requires more thought and reflection to be able to apply them well.”