Our culture is confused about many things, especially manhood. What does it mean to be a man? Is a man someone with big muscles? Does manhood require facial hair? Is a man firm or soft, aggressive or passive; someone with money in the bank or love in his heart? Some are abusive. Some are absent. Both extremes both miss the mark. The resulting chaos is felt everywhere, but especially at societies’ foundational unit: in the family. The cloudier the issue of manhood becomes, the more we see our desperate need for clarity. With Father’s Day coming this weekend, it is worth taking some time to consider the question of authentic manhood.

In the Bible we read of King David, one of the greatest men of all time. Like any person, David was not perfect, but he modeled four characteristics any man would be wise to take note of.

First, a man makes God’s priorities his own. David was “a man after God’s own heart” (1 Samuel 13:14). He cared about what God cared about. Matthew 22:36-40 reveals God’s priority is for us to love God and love others. In Micah 6:8, God commands us to do justice, love kindness, and live humbly under His rule. Jesus said, “If you love me you will obey my commands” (John 14:15). Love Jesus and you can’t go wrong. I have yet to meet a man whose life is a wreck whose priorities line up with God’s.

Second, a man surrounds himself with good influences. David surrounded himself with incredible advisors and warriors (1 Chronicles 12). In fact, these men came to him! They were drawn to him! These men were skilled, disciplined, and brave. They understood the times and knew what they should do. A man who surrounds himself with good and godly influences will flourish. True friendships help men grow in their strengths and fight against their weaknesses.

Third, a man is honest about his sin and failures. It is easy for men to become isolated or isolate themselves. Instead of being where he was supposed to be, David was hanging out at home. He ended up being infatuated with a woman, committed adultery with her, and in attempts to cover it up had her husband killed. It can be easy to take sin lightly, thinking it is no big deal or can be handled on your own. Some fear coming clean, believing the lie that they’re the only one who has ever messed up or others will think less of them. Read Psalm 32 and 51 and you will see an honest, broken man. Though he experienced difficult consequences, God brought back his joy and enabled David to teach others. Men are real about their problems and grow through them.

Last, a man is rooted in the Word of God (see Psalm 119). David learned to love God’s Word and thought about it all day long. He guarded his heart by memorizing it. He longed to love God, to hear from Him, and was committed to obey. David’s heart was humble, teachable, and moldable. He did not cling to fame or fortune, but to the great worth of God and His Word. He wrote, “turn my eyes from looking at worthless things; and give me life in your ways” (verse 37).

Whether you are a biological father, adoptive father, or are a father-figure in the life of another, you cannot escape the reality of your shaping influence. You can only pass on what you possess. Are you passing on authentic manhood or something else?