That sounds great, but even if you were willing “to be a man” and/or “find the man in yourself,” how would you know what that means? Biblically speaking, it’s not “step up and be a man”; it’s find your identity first as sons of the living God and become like his son and your brother Jesus. Then, by the power of his Spirit, live out your particular calling as a man. It’s what God the Father is all about: making men of his boys. Call it the grace of turning boys into men.

Because of God’s irresistible call to become his sons our core identity is about who we are in Christ. Our core identity as sons will never change in all our transitioning roles and callings as men.

As sons of God, we are no longer defined by our culture or our relationship with our fathers (or lack of relationship). Instead we are defined by our heavenly Father and our relationship with him. As his sons we are given the power of the Spirit to resemble our heavenly Father. What an incredible joy it is for a man to know that his Father is a leader, provider, and warrior and that we are called to imitate him in those key roles as his sons! In ancient times, a man took his name from his father. For example, King David was called the son of Jesse. Usually a boy also took on the same role as his father. The son of a farmer was a farmer as well.

Now, as sons of God, we take our name and our roles from our Father. God is sovereign—he is the King of heaven and earth. He is God Almighty, the leader without equal or even near equal. Like Father, like son. Because of Jesus, we are sons of the living God and as our Father leads, we seek to lead like him. God is the identity-bestowing Father who, through Christ, makes his boys sons and progressively into men who sacrificially lead and fight for others the way he does.

Now, some great news: When we see what our Father is like and what he has set before us to do as men, it’s freeing and energizing! It changes us. Instead of being passive, instead of wanting others to serve us, instead of waiting for someone to help those around us, our goal becomes to lead and fight like he leads and fights. The Father gives us our identity as sons, and by grace through the power of the Spirit, we step into our calling as leaders, workers, and warriors.

A perfect Father gives his sons a perfect identity, one that matches perfectly with who we were designed to be in God’s original intent. A self-constructed identity will eventually self-destruct. But an identity bestowed by our Father in heaven will last forever. We do not need to, and in fact cannot, create our own identity. Simply go to the Father through Jesus Christ and live as a dearly beloved son.

Adapted from the new Key Life book, Like Father, Like Son, by Pete Alwinson.