ladies, feel free to forward this to your husbands, boyfriends, sons, friends… basically anyone you know is a man 🙂
I don’t know why we do this… totally a man thing, but logically, it makes no sense. I’m in my office, where parts look like a war zone, cuz we are doing a complete retrofit on the two floors we have in our building. I have moved into my new cube, and that’s fine, but other areas are still being worked on. So, on my way to a conference room or something, I had to walk through an area where there were a bunch of construction workers. They are “man-handling” stuph, and I am walking through in my normal work attire: button up shirt, slacks, italian leather shoes – you get the picture. Anyway, as I was walking, I did it… I puffed up . Guys, you know exactly what I am talking about. Something in my crazy man brain associated what those guys were doing with “real man stuph”, and it challenged me, not in a good way. I have been dressing nice since I was in high school, but on this day, I felt my fashion sense made me wimpy. I should be in the trenches, getting dirty, hauling stuph around, “to show that I was a man too”…
Crazy, isn’t it?
There is something ingrained in men that takes everything as a challenge. We grow up with GI Joes, play king of the mountain, and ultimately look for anything to take out everyone around us, because if we don’t we know they will take us out. I remember being in a race in college. The guy next to me, who over time had become my friend (of course, beforehand he was my enemy, cuz we were going after the same prize), had an epileptic attack in the middle of the race, and went down hard. As I saw him fall, I stopped to help him, but everyone on the sideline screamed at me to keep running. Probably the hardest race I had to run, because I still had half the race to run, and all I could think about was my friend. I know, though, that if it was some random guy, I wouldn’t have given him a second thought… one less person to challenge me… one more opportunity to prove that I can win…
What does it really mean to be a man?
I had dinner with a friend of mine this week. We talked about some good stuph, and in the middle of the conversation, he said “I haven’t been a good friend to your sons lately”. It told me one reason why we are friends. I had similar thoughts about a couple of the young men at church. I have more time now, kinda… why aren’t I being a better friend to them in this critical time in their life?
Maybe being a man has nothing to do with being “number one”, but rather just “being one”. Being one who is willing to let go of success to help another. Being one who is willing to trust the heart and soul of a person, rather than immediately jumping to conclusions. Being one who protects those in his community, rather than preying on them. Being one who makes his voice known, not only in protest, but in the voting booth, in the community, and in his family. Being one willing to confess his heart for the sake of the relationship. Being one who is not intimidated by other men for any reason, not because he is better, but because he knows who he is. Being one, who is willing to love – openly, honestly, and unconditionally.
I think the world could use more men like this.
Not to say there aren’t men like this around. In a culture that criticizes men, or portrays them all as 1st season Homer Simpson, I am glad to say that I know men that are real. Men I can trust with my life and future. With my hopes and weaknesses. Men that aren’t out to tear me and other men down, but whose character is to build up other men. Most of the time, these men do what they do with no fanfare. They are like Special Ops. Doing what they do behind the scenes, but taking people like me, when I was a kid, and establishing “right living” in them.
I want to be that man… not the man who puffs up when he sees other men…
Dan, another friend of mine, did something I will never forget. His son turned 18, and he asked me and 3 other guys to have dinner with him and his son, to usher him into manhood. We had the opportunity to give him advice, encouragement, and example, and to answer any questions he had. To me, that was one of the most profound things a man could do for his son – give him male role models and mentors.
Men, I invite you to step into this role proudly. Be a man – not arrogant, abusive, or the image that society says you are, but a real man. Strong, helpful, loving… find a young man around you that needs encouragement, and be that mentor to him. Let’s create a generation of men that our society can be proud of.