I recently had the opportunity to see The Bourne Legacy, which is way better than the critics had made it sound and totally worth seeing for adults. The critics, by the way, often don’t like a movie that skews traditional, as Legacy does. It was a fantastic action film filled with the intelligent intensity you expect from the Bourne series.
No, Jeremy Renner is not Matt Damon, but he’s quite convincing in his portrait of a Bourne-like character. Go see the film. It’s a blast.
Anyway, it struck me afresh how impressive the lead character of the Bourne movie is as a man. He’s in control, assertive, aware of others, physically fine-tuned, and one who meets any challenge in front of him. This kind of man is strikingly different than another avatar of modern cinema, the boy-man, who pops up repeatedly in the films made or led by Judd Apatow, Adam Sandler, Jonah Hill, Seth Rogen, and many others.
The boy-man is selfish, young, immature, addicted to games, immune to responsibility, foul-mouthed, and weak. He’s overwhelmed by adulthood, so he chooses to stay in some sort of boyish fantasy. He doesn’t want to build big things, meaningful things, like a family, a six-decade marriage, a socially and personally profitable career, or a gospel-driven church or missions effort. He wants to make music, play games, follow sports, flirt with girls, loaf through life, bend the rules so he’s not accountable or inconvenienced in his selfishness, and ignore the need to help others.
I want to suggest that wherever you can as a young man or one involved in any way in training young men, you point them toward manhood, maturity, adulthood, responsibility, ambition, strategy, vision, focus. Yes, it can be fun to be boyish. But you know what’s far more satisfying? Becoming something. Becoming something greater than you are. Becoming a man. Building stuff.
What else is cool? Winning a woman’s heart and keeping it for years, decades, a lifetime. Raising children to know the Lord. Giving tons of energy to a church plant or a church undergoing revitalization. Leaving everything to go to the mission field as a single young man. Mentoring at-risk youth. Creating a company that employs others and advances the common good. Pushing past laziness and whining and getting yourself in shape, fine-tuning your body so that you’re no longer a boy in the way you eat and take care of yourself.
The Bourne series is of course fictional. But if you read the stories of real-life elite soldiers, you see that they become something greater than they naturally are. See the gripping American Sniper, for example. The stuff that a Navy SEAL must do to enter the program is stunning, frightening. It’s also awesome. Emulate that as a Christian. Become a SEAL follower of Christ. Become something greater than you are and that this culture trains you to be.
You’re not an idiot by nature as a guy. You’re not a goofball. You’re not addicted to silly things. If you are a boy-man right now, there is tremendous hope for you, and there is forgiveness for your sins. If you haven’t been trained well, if you haven’t had a father at all, there are gospel-preaching churches led by godly men who will train and help you. Seek them out. In the power of the Spirit, leave your boyish ways.
Hear Moses’ words to Joshua as he passed on the mantle of leadership in Joshua 1:9.
“Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
And, we might say by way of contextualization today, do not be a boy-man. Be a man, period.