In the quest for the mature masculine, how do you know if you have reached it? One method of knowing is to look for certain traits that appear in the mature male but not in boys. These traits make up the DNA of mature masculinity and are generally taught and enforced/reinforced during a boys time in liminal space. We have already examined two of them – respect
– now we look at a third: reach.
What is reach?
Reach could encompass many things. It could describe a man’s relationship to those around him – reaching out to gain and give help. It could describe a man desiring things well outside his grasp – a reacher would seek things he cannot afford or feasibly gain. But, for our purposes here, reach encompasses the spirit of man that seeks to constantly better himself and better the world around him. A man that reaches is never satisfied with where he is (this doesn’t mean he’s not content) and knows that he ought never stop improving.In work, this is the man who doesn’t settle for status quo, who always challenges and pushes things to be better.
This is the man who, while a promotion would be desirable, is more focused on making himself and all he touches better. At home, this is a man who takes the pride in his house and family that he looks for new ways to provide for and help them. This is the man who conducts home, self, or other improvement projects rather than serves as an armchair football coach. In the world, this is the man who is involved in the community and in his children’s schools, hoping that by some contribution he might be able to make things better for those around him. Lastly, this is the man who is never satisfied with his relationship with his God and Creator. He is constantly thirsting that he might know his God more; this is the man exemplified by Paul writing in Philippians 3:10:
“[For my determined purpose is] that I may know Him [that I may progressively become more deeply and intimately acquainted with Him, perceiving and recognizing and understanding the wonders of His Person more strongly and more clearly], and that I may in that same way come to know the power outflowing from His resurrection [which it exerts over believers], and that I may so share His sufferings as to be continually transformed [in spirit into His likeness even] to His death”
First and foremost, reach is a part of the mature masculine because the mature man knows that he is never done learning and growing. Imagine, if you will, a man who, after he has been initiated into masculinity, just stops trying; if this happens, the initiation has failed him. The mature masculine is won once, but maintained by exhibiting this and other characteristics of it. Thus, a man must constantly strive to be better, and the mature man will, knowing what is at stake in his life and the world.
How is reach taught?
The teaching must begin in childhood. Much has been said about encouraging children to do their best. We must also encourage them to be better. In the beginning, we must provide and model reach for them, continuing to read and exercise and practice and get better ourselves at those things we have in our lives. As young boys grow, we must provide ways for them to get better, subsidizing their reach until they are able to begin reaching themselves. This will occur naturally, as the boy finds his passions, but he must also be taught that reach is a matter for the whole of life. Again, modelling is key here. Pity the young boy who does not have someone sharing and showing a desire to get better and make better.
Reach is what enabled man to fly. It’s what led to the discovery of new medicines and medical techniques. Reach in a man pushes him; no longer is extrinsic motivation needed; the desire to get better comes from the mature masculine inside. There is no need for a partner to push him; he feels and acts on his internal reach on his own. The mature masculine calls us to constantly be better – reach is the internal characteristic that drives us there.
To making ourselves better men and making the community around us better by our actions,