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Wrapup Words – Modeling

It’s been just a year since I started sharing thoughts on men, masculinity, and rites of passage in this space. In reflecting on all I’ve written and all I’ve read in my research, one word continues to come to mind: modeling.

Modeling is an essential part of the quest for mature masculinity. If you think about the quest young males go through (in both the Iron John path and the generic rite of passage outline), both involve a male mentor, a male model. Young males can’t imagine what the mature masculine looks like; they have to be shown it. They need their fathers to show them; they need teachers, coaches, pastors, and heroes who will show them what it means to live in the mature masculine. Without a model, our young males will flounder in liminal space because they are not being taught their roles, rights, and responsibilities as they enter manhood.

Who can a young male look to to model respect, responsibility, reach, reflection, relationship, rationality, and reverence? Their peers are still (for the most part) still struggling to learn these for themselves. So, we, the older males, the ones who have been initiated into the mature masculine, must model it for them. We must show them what it means to tame the hurricane energy and to marry our inner feminine. We must embrace the multi-faceted roles of manhood – of warriors, lovers, friends, and kings.

Are you concerned about erring? About being a poor model? Don’t worry; I think it’s a fear we all have. But, fortunately for all of us, there is a model that is without error, Jesus, God made man. In Jesus, we can see all sides of the mature masculine, all markers of the DNA, all four of the pillars/dimensions of masculinity. In Him, we see the strength of the warrior, used to defend and build up, not to destroy. In Him, we see the tender compassion of the lover, calling little children to Him and caring for His mother even as He hung on a cross. In Him, we see the friend, wandering Israel for years with 12 men at His side. And, in Him, we see the King, conqueror, ruler, now and forever, providing for His people.

As we end this year and start the new, whom will you model mature masculinity for? And whom will you look to as your own model of mature masculinity? I hope to continue to provide guidance and thoughts along the way as we all quest to more like the ultimate model of manhood.

 
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Posted by on December 31, 2013 in Weekend Words

 

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Iron John – An Initiation – Fathers

Continuing to look at the journey a boy takes as he transitions into manhood, we stop at phase two in the path described by Robert Bly in his research dissecting Grimm’s fairy tale Iron John. As he details, there is a 5-fold process that a boy takes:

Bonding to and separation from the mother

Bonding to and separation from the father

Arrival of the male mentor

Apprenticeship to a hurricane energy

Marriage to the holy woman or queen

This second step, bonding to and separation from the father, takes a very similar path to the first step, at least in the separation phase. The bonding to the father, however, is much harder. Robert Bly notes that “we often postpone the father bonding until we are fifty or so, and then separation still has to be done.” A large cause of this is the fact that the father is so absent from the life of his son. How, then, can a son bond with his father if he is not there. This post is less for sons and boys trying to become men and more for the men who are absent from their sons lives. Mostly, however, it is a thanks to my father for always being there for me.

I was very blessed in my upbringing. I was raised in a two parent home. My father was far from absent. In fact, while other fathers may have chosen to hit the golf course or stay after work to further their careers into management, my dad came home in the evenings. In my early childhood, he would come home and coach my brother or my soccer teams. The weekends, instead of playing golf, he and my mother chauffeured us to swim meets, soccer games and tournaments, or piano competitions. As I got older, in the morning, he would wake my brother and me up at 5am to take us to swim practice. Then, that evening, he would grade our math (algebra, calculus, and physics) homework and work with us to help us understand it better. If he ever got tired of being my father, I never knew it. I am the man I am today because of the sacrifices my father made for me and I only hope that I can be the father he was for us when I have children.

And, that’s what a dad is supposed to be: a man who is there for his children, both sons and daughters. I’ve cited it before in this blog, that 30% of children will go to bed without fathers. Without that father figure, some will turn inward, some will look out to negative influences. 

My first call, then, is to fathers, to be there for your sons. Your legacy isn’t in how many hours you worked or how many promotions you got; it’s in the children who follow after you.

My second call, or offering, is for those boys who are growing up with fathers, whether physically absent or just emotionally so. Seek out a positive father figure. Boys learn how to be men from other men, it’s in our nature. Get involved in your church youth group, in Boy Scouts, in school programs. And mothers, help your son find a positive male figure; he may not be able to make that big of a choice just yet, but hopefully you have the wisdom to do so.

Lastly, boys, and men, there is a Man who you should always look to, whether your father is present or not. Jesus, a Man “who, though He was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made Himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, He Humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death” (Philippians 2:6-8), death for you and me. The Bible details Jesus’ life on earth, and He is the perfect Man. No matter who you have or don’t have, He is an example you can always look to. He loves you, and He died to save you.

Fathers, we need you. Your sons need you. They need to bond with you, and then they need you to let them go, but still be there as a man alongside them or just behind them.

To fathers raising their sons, and to my dad, a man among men,

MD

 
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Posted by on November 27, 2012 in Rites of Passage

 

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