I am a man. I have different body parts than my female counterparts. I have some extra hair, a deeper voice and I can watch an entire baseball game without moving. Men and women are different. This concept is so profoud that Time Magazine put it on a 1992 cover. What does it mean to be a man? Jamie asked me a few months ago what I thought it meant to “be a man”. I kept struggling with things like what I would do if something bad happened: ” I will defend my family…I will support my family…” Does this mean that women don’t do those things? That’s ridiculous! Women do these things and do them well. So what does it mean to “be a man”. I recently read John Eldgrege’s book Wild at Heart¨. Ironically, I picked up this book on audio about a week after I began pondering this question. I am 37 years old and am challenged to answer a simple question of what it means to be a man. John’s book did an excellent job openning up the conversation within my heart. Here are a few things all men have burning within them that make them different than the ladies. These are things they must engage in and their women must embrace. Without them, men are doomed to mediocrity and unhappiness. Embrace them, and men will be proufoundly successful in living a fullfilling life.
1. An Adventure. Men are built to live adventure. A sedentary life has never been in the mantra for man. From the cave man days, to the revolutionary war, to today. Man goes forth to find challenges to overcome. Man is desgned to actively pursue. This is as true in courting our women as it is in pursuing career aspirations. The hunt is the fullfilling joy.
2. A battle to fight. As men, we need a cause. In fact, we need many causes. This doesn’t mean that men must be chaining themselves to trees at Green Peace rallies or doing PSAs for Darfur (although many do). As men, we have a much more personal battle to fight. The greatest challenge in life is not fighting this battle, but discovering it. Men like Martin Luther King Jr., Abraham Lincoln, and Pope John Paul II, had profound, world impacting battles to fight. Civil rights, Civil War, and the evil communism are huge battles. They are also obvious at this point. What battles to we fight? This is a question I have been asking myself a lot lately and will discuss this much further in future posts. For now, challenge yourself to discover your battles. This must go beyond the “given” battles of protecting your teen age daughters from boys. Every one does that. Think BIG and Think DIFFERENT!
3. Spiritual Leader of the family. A recent study from Touchstone in Europe discusses fathers and church attendance. If the father attends church with the mother, the children become regular church goers 33% of the time. Without dad, that number is 3%. Dad leads the family to salvation. This means dad must wake up early on Sunday and push the family to get ready on time. Developing a fervent prayer life as a single man or starting now as a married father, this is a key component to being a man. Daily prayer isn’t just for old ladies at daily Mass. Remember the apostles with Christ were all men.
4. Strong and Confident. Man must be of strong spirit. Not all men are particularly strong physically, nor was that ever nature’s only intention. A fulfilled man must, however have a strong spirit. This starts with confidence, ability, and drive. The era of feminism has emasculated many of our men. Watch any TV commercial during the daytime and you’ll see images of weak, stupid men who can”t even back the car out of the garage without running over the sprinklers. This distorted view of men, created by angry women who misunderstand men, shows man as wandering aimlessly without the heroic virtues of his woman who must do everything to protect the world from her stupid man. This is a perfect image of a man without strength. Man must be strong and couragous enough to balance his leadership within the home with his wife’s need to be valued and heard. A strong man knows when to push and when to concede. If he doesn’t know this, he will strive to learn.
5. Creative and Creators: As men, we have a creative spirit. From the natural urge to create families to the urge to build things, we are creators. As a little boy, I built a model of the classic cutter the “Cutty Sark”. This was a beautiful and giant model of a grand sail boat. I built forts, model airplanes, and go-carts. Men must create and have “ownership”. Without this sense of ownership, we are selling out on our manhood and fulfilling the feminist vision of “stupid man”.