RSS

Tag Archives: weekend words

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.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on December 31, 2013 in Weekend Words

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Weekend Words – Am I…

Am I a man because of the things I do?
The sports I play or the beer I drink?
The clothes I wear, the job I do, the hobbies I hold?
Does my masculinity come from my nots?
I’m not a woman; I don’t dance ballet.
I don’t cry; I won’t cook; I don’t sew.
Is my manhood a performance?
A script of do’s and don’t’s?

No!

I am a man because of how I am.
How I treat myself and others.
How I treat whatever work I do.
How I honor those around me.
How I strive for my best in whatever I do.
I am a man because of my struggles and my victories.
How I handle triumph and adversity.
My manhood comes from my character.
Character instilled and passed down from elders.
Traits recognized and acknowledged in me by elders.

I am a man because of how I am within the world.
I can do or not do many things.
What matters is the manner I do or don’t.
 
Leave a comment

Posted by on October 18, 2013 in Weekend Words

 

Tags: , , , ,

Weekend Words – Community

“It takes a village to raise a child” the old quote goes. We offer it so glibly now, but the wisdom contained in that African quote is one that cannot be overlooked in our raising of boys if we ever hope for them to reach the mature masculine. Sadly, we overlook it all too often in our American culture.

In modern times, community is overlooked in favor of isolated families. People interact more digitally and spend more time in their homes than with those in their neighborhoods or complexes. Written over 10 years ago, “Bowling Alone” describes the collapse of community and its affects on adults. Think about how it has affected our boys.

Ancient tribes and primitive cultures have it right: boys are not meant to just be raised in silos by their parents. No, they are sent out into the village, where they can be taught and mentored by the entire tribe. This allows for two things to happen:

  • Boys learn more than one way to show their masculinity and learn multiple ways to relate to and encounter the world.
  • It is a natural transition for boys to enter manhood in the culture and to be held accountable by the males who surround them.

What can you do? Don’t be siloed in your family and home. Create a community with your neighbors. Build relationships with church members that extend beyond Sundays. As your community grows, so will your boy’s, and he will have more support and encouragement and learning on his quest. As he receives, he will also give back, and a beautiful cycle of mutual support will be started. Our time of isolation has to end, both for our boys and for our community.

I remember growing up on a cul-de-sac. I knew everyone on that circle: Bob taught me how to shoot a bb-gun, the Poe’s taught me how to swim. Neighbors impacted my life because I was in a community. I am a better man because of the community that cared about me and poured into my development. Our boys now can be too.

 
1 Comment

Posted by on June 6, 2013 in Weekend Words

 

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Weekend Words – Authentic

“People often say that this or that person has not yet found himself. But the self is not something one finds, it is something one creates.”

Thomas Szasz gets right to the heart of authentic living with his comments. The truly mature masculine is embodied in authentic living, in a life conceived, inspired, and governed not by outside perspectives and opinions but by the knowledge, beliefs, and internal convictions of one’s self.

There are many males and females who will attempt to tell you how a man ought to behave, what he ought to do. Society is full of gender roles and male vs. female tasks, but the error in all of these and the belief that they define masculinity is to assume that a man is defined by what he does. A quick search reveals countless articles and videos stating that real men…don’t cry/eat meat/have no fears/don’t ask for directions…well, you get the point. All of these definitions miss what is truly at the heart of man.

At Navigating the Wild, we take the perspective that man is not defined by what he does, but rather how he does it. Allowing for any outside force to dictate what you do gives away ownership of your life; it takes the pen that you are authoring your life with and passes it off to another. To live a truly authentic life is to author your behavior in a way that is true to yourself while living out the character qualities of the mature masculine. You may not like doing (or be able to do) many of the societally defined “manly things”, but you can still live your life in a manly way, with respect, reverence, and responsibility as defining character traits. We will focus on these traits and others as we expand on the teaching that occurs in liminal space.

We must find satisfaction in ourselves, in living authentically. If not, we allow the world to dictate how we see and define us as men, which will never satisfy and will always keep the mature masculine at arm’s reach.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on May 11, 2013 in Weekend Words

 

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Weekend Words – Legacy

Everywhere I turned this week, I seemed to find calls or allusions to leading a life concerned with legacy. This week, my work revolved around recognizing fraternities and sororities with awards and around celebrating two of my sorority chapter’s 100-year anniversaries. Each of these occurrences gave me time to pause and consider the importance of legacy in a man’s life.

I think society is misleading men about their purpose and what a legacy truly is. A quote from Pleck and Sawyer in “Men and Masculinity”, remarking on what men are learning at the end of the lives, supports this thought – “Some of these advantaged men are finding that the traditional masculine pursuit of power, prestige, and profit will not fulfill their lives.” Whether we like it or accept it or not, as men, we are privileged, and are called to use that in a way to support others. That is where we will find fulfillment.

This weekend, my college’s president, speaking at a retirement celebration, remarked that “At the end of the day, you won’t be remembered by how much money you made or what car you drove, but by the people you touched.” This is so true.

Men are being sold a false bill of goods, a false set of expectations about what should matter in their lives. Watch even 15 minutes of television and you’ll see advertisements for the next great car, beer, or food item. Nothing about making a difference or touching the lives of someone. We are taught to be selfish, but the true mature masculine is selfless, focused on leaving behind a world better because he was a part of it.

What will your legacy be? Will it be something that can be destroyed in an instant, or will it live on in the lives of those you touched and in the very fabric of our society? Live your life as one focused on a lasting legacy.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on April 14, 2013 in Weekend Words

 

Tags: , , ,

Weekend Words – Matter

I could use this post to spout of cliches about mattering: Don’t waste your life; make a difference; be great. But, most of these focus on mattering for the world around you, mattering so that your life affects those around you in a positive manner. Yes, this is important, but doing something that matters, finding your sense of meaning, helps your psyche even more than it helps the world.

Michael Meade, writing about finding our sense of meaning, says that “Those who grow old without finding a genuine sense of meaning in their lives tend to become repositories for fear and anxiety.” This is not what we are called to as men or as humans.

Victor Frankl demonstrates the truth in this. A psychologist imprisoned in concentration camps during World War 2, he wrote “Man’s Search for Meaning”, speaking from his experiences and his survival mechanisms throughout them. His survival didn’t come because he was tough; in fact, if you think about those Nazi prisoners, they lost most of their physical strength over time. He survived because he found his sense of meaning and purpose. He survived because he loved his wife and wanted to see her again, never knowing if she was surviving as well. He survived, and in his survival, he found that rather than focusing on the pleasure in life, man’s primary drive is the discover and pursuit of what we find meaningful.

So, what is meaningful in your life? What matters? You can look for it in three areas: in work (doing something significant), in love (caring for another person), or in courage during difficult times (Kushner, in “Man’s Search for Meaning”). All men have the opportunity to matter in each of these areas; it’s the real men among us that seize the chance.

Seize the opportunity to matter. Take hold of your work. You should never resign yourself to a life of rote striving; that’s not the way of man. Take hold of your love for others. So many ‘men’ never care or show that they care about those around them; don’t let this be true about you. And, be courageous. Life will get hard; it’s the man that has meaning in his life that knows what his purpose is and how even these struggles are making him matter.

You are not meant to be silent, actionless. Find what has meaning in your life; make your life matter.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on March 30, 2013 in Weekend Words

 

Tags: , , , , , ,

Weekend Words – Strive

 

In a conversation with one of my students this week, he brought up a motivational speaker who reminds us that to be successful, we must “want to succeed as much as we want to breathe”. This is an idea and area that I believe many men struggle with – that of striving.

While the mature masculine is a status to be reached, it is not something to be settled in. A mature male continues to strive. He focuses on making this day better than the one before, leaving each person he encounters better and more inspired, improving the world around him one piece at a time, and, most of all, better himself as a person.The immature male gives up or makes a lackluster attempt at things around him, not wanting to put forth the effort, to strive to be better in every way.

Our striving affects those around us. It inspires them to do better, be better. It shows them that we care about people and the world around us.

Will you strive? Will you look around you for what can be better and what you can impact? Everyone has potential; striving allows you to put that potential into action. Can you imagine what the world would be liked if it was filled with mature men and mature women who strive in their day-to-day? The possibilities are endless.

strive

 
2 Comments

Posted by on March 17, 2013 in Weekend Words

 

Tags: , , ,

Weekend Words – Purpose

What’s your purpose in life? What do you exist for? What avenues of life are you expending your energy on? Do you have a direction in life, and what/who is that direction focused on (me or we)?

These are questions that, sadly, many males have trouble answering. Many of them have never thought about it which is quite a shame. Instead of using their life in pursuit of real, mature purpose, males get caught up in selfish pursuits: collecting the most toys, chasing/bedding the most sexual partners, crafting the most leisure time in their lives. That is the life of the boy.

Does what you do each day make a difference in the world? If not, it’s time to re-examine your purpose. Men make a difference in the world, even if it just impacts their small corner of it. Men selflessly seek to better themselves (to serve those around them), the community they work and live (to serve its members), and the world (knowing that they are a part of it).

If we are ever to take our place in the land of the mature masculine, we must first define our purpose, one that is focused on the people, community, and world around us. The boy and man-child sit and chase self-oriented, inward-focused things; the mature man seeks a purpose that is greater than himself. Our purpose defines who we are.

A man of purpose leaves a legacy behind him; a male without purpose leaves a wasted life.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on March 8, 2013 in Weekend Words

 

Tags: , , , , , ,

Weekend Words – Speak

In his book, “Manhood”, author Stephen Shapiro discusses the need for men to learn how to speak their mind and talk about who they are, what they’re feeling, and how they wish things were. This led me to recognize the need for boys to learn how to speak and for men to speak up more often.

Boys need to learn how to speak. We have this image in our culture that males don’t talk; in fact, we base jokes off of it, citing statistics that males say half as many words as females do. So, the image is true, but what is not talked about is how this lack of speaking can be hurting our males. When we don’t speak, we fail to articulate emotions and thoughts. When we don’t speak, concerns go un-uttered. When we don’t speak, the good and the bad thoughts that are inside of us say there and fester, only to be released at some later point of frustration or ire.

Boys must speak. Learning how to articulate their emotions and thoughts means that they are actually thinking about them, that they are becoming self-aware. They must be able to tell when and why something is bothering or encouraging or puzzling them. Speaking out about it encourages and fosters this practice and presses self-awareness and self-reflection. Without it, we risk a group of angry young men who know they are mad (or confused or depressed or even excited) but cannot articulate what they’re feeling or why. We must teach our boys how to speak.

As our boys learn how to speak and then move into manhood, they must continue to speak, not just out, but also up. They must speak up about the injustices that are in the world. They must speak up when they see another male (or female) mistreating any person. They must speak up to tell our boys words they should hear, words the men themselves wish they had heard growing up. Silence is not an option for a man, except as he forms the words he ought to say.

The time for the “strong, silent male” is past. Boys must learn how to speak out of the emotions of their hearts, out of the trials and joys they face. It is only through speaking out that they will be able to speak up when they are men. The world needs more men who speak up, taking a stand for what is right.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on March 2, 2013 in Weekend Words

 

Tags: , , , , ,

Weekend Words – Triumph

Triumph is a naturally desired state in every male’s life. If you think about any male and the activities he pursues, more than likely, you will find some form of triumph possible. (Note: I could have used “conquest” as well, but given the negative connotation of the word, it seems better to use “triumph”.) Males want to win; that is, of course, why you play the game. A boy growing up wants to win; when he doesn’t, have fun picking up the pieces of the Monopoly board. That doesn’t change as we age; we simply become smarter in how we compete, how we choose to compete, and in what we choose to compete, hoping to maximize our triumph.

Triumph can be incredibly positive; it can build self-esteem and create drive in a male’s life. This desire for triumph can get him to work longer hours, focus harder on specific tasks, or create new solutions to problems that have arisen. It can also be negative; too many missed triumphs can lower a person’s sense of self-worth. Additionally, making life all about triumph can decrease the number of risks a person might take. Why should I play a game I’m not sure I win? This is an approach I used to take; now, I view everything as a challenge – some I can meet and triumph over; others, I learn from and try to overcome at another time.

Our challenge, then, as those who care about males and want them to enter the mature masculine and serve and love others and society, is to use the idea and desire for triumph to guide males to good uses of their time and talent.
We have to redefine triumph in itself – a victory or conquest that only helps me is not conducive to the idea of the mature masculine; our triumphs should provide benefit for not only ourselves but those around us. We have to create space for them that risks are not something to be avoided, but rather, to be approached cautiously, examined in the light of both triumph for themselves and for society. We have to acknowledge that not everything will end in triumph, and help others learn from this, preparing them for their next potential triumph. Finally, we have to celebrate those triumphs, both to recognize the accomplishments and to spur the male onto further triumphs for himself and society.

Thomas Paine writes “The harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly; it is dearness only that gives everything its value. I love the man that can smile in trouble, that can gather strength from distress and grow.” Triumph is essential to the being of man, and, as we shall see soon, essential to becoming a man.
 
Leave a comment

Posted by on February 24, 2013 in Weekend Words

 

Tags: , , , , ,