"Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;"
Eph 5:25

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Act Like Men: Day 1

Last evening I attended the first of a seven week study on Act Like Men: 40 Days to Biblical Manhood by James MacDonald. The book (and study) is based on 1 Corinthians 16:13-14.
Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love. 
The study is divided into five sections, each one focusing on one of the five assertions in those verses.

I'm happy to be back in a men's study group that tackles issues that are integral to becoming a better husband, father, brother, friend, man.

So, here are my thoughts and notes from the first day.

The first chapter is divided into sections:
1. Don't Act Like a Woman
2. Don't Act Like an Animal
3. Don't Act Like a Boy
3. Don't Act Like a Superhero

The chapter opens in a diner, where the author is asking a group of men who were eating together what "acting like a man" means to them.

Their answers were of course the usual ... doing what you say you're going to do ... not being underhanded when making a deal ... keeping your word ... taking responsibility for your actions, etc.

What struck me was the lack of tough talk in the answers. For a bunch of normal "men," these guys gave answers that reassured me about my own thinking and where I stand in the man-iverse.

DON'T ACT LIKE A WOMAN

The fact that God created a help-meet for Adam right out of the gate gives me the peace of mind that it's okay to depend on my wife as much as I do. She does all the things I am unable (mostly emotionally) to do, and vice versa. We balance one another, though admittedly I don't always pull my weight in the housework department.

However, I also found that I stand squarely in the negative when it comes to leadership in the home. When left to my own devices I tend to sit on the porch and veg-out with the kids when there is a list of things that need my attention. Maybe part of it is the sheer size of the list and the fact that it compounds exponentially each day, or maybe it's just laziness. Hmm ... thoughts? (Never mind. I think we all know the answer).

DON'T ACT LIKE AN ANIMAL

Animals don't act like people. (duh)  I know a few men who act like they are owed the world on a platter for no other reason than because they're men and their machismo demands it. <*insert barbaric yawp*>  I sincerely pray that I never become one of those men. I've lived these fifty-two years so far without being King Macho and I'm thinking I can do without it for the next fifty-two or so.

DON'T ACT LIKE A BOY

Children react in the moment. They laugh with hysteria and weep agonizingly the next. They are needy and immature. I feel like a child some days. But in my opinion what Paul was saying in 1 Corinthians 13:11 was more about the inner man and the lack of impulsiveness than about outer behavior. Please understand that I believe men should behave themselves, but there is a significant difference between playing like a child and behaving like a child. In my line of work, it is vital for me to play like a child. When I arrive at home, I don't mind playing and hanging out with my children and getting into their world. That doesn't mean I act impulsively or throw a tantrum when my son catches the ball first. It means that I am now able to reason like a man.

DON'T ACT LIKE A SUPERHERO

Many times superheroes go it alone. I confess that this is going to be a hard one for me to conquer. In recent months I have found out things about a mentor figure that were shocking and destructive to my ability to trust many of the men in my life. Right now my default position is (1) don't ask for help (2) don't confide in anyone (3) you might think you can trust them, but you can't.

I'm working through it, but it's going to take a long, long, l-o-n-g time. With God's help I will eventually work through it. Hey I have another fifty-two year, right?

Questions:
1. What can you do today and this week to be a better servant-leader to your family?

I am lazy by nature. As a teacher I have summers off, so my natural tendency is to sleep until I'm good and ready to get up, then spend the entire morning in my pajamas, nursing a few cups of coffee.

I can get my royal rumpus out of bed and start checking stuff off the ol' "to-do list." I can pay closer attention to things and people who need my attention instead of worrying about myself and my agenda.

2. In what ways might recent actions have appeared selfish, and what can you do today to correct that?

I have been going to the gym (my wife bought me a membership for my birthday). I don't do very much there, but I do enjoy the treadmill and elliptical machines, mostly because I can simultaneously exercise and watch TV (remember my default laziness?). Anyway, I don't always go at convenient times. Sometime I go to the gym when I could be doing something around the house.

Long story short, I can put off my exercise until everything is done for the day. Or I can get up extra early and do it first thing, though that is highly unlikely. :)

3. Do you agree that a man keeping his word and refusing to make excuses is a good summary of manhood? Why?

I agree. The whole idea of putting off childish ways and taking responsibility for my actions is a good start to the idea of manhood. However, I think it goes a little farther.

The Christian community paints a picture of manhood that is quite different from what I was taught as a child. Granted, this idea is never spoken aloud, but it is an ever-present "this is a man and this isn't idea within the Christian community. I have always felt in the latter category where the manly testosterone driven idea of the Biblical man. I do not fit in. I fit out.

But I'm realizing more that it's okay to "fit out." God fitted each of us with different abilities. All men cannot and should not be alike and that's okay. So I guess I'm saying that I won't make excuses for the man that I am. That is not to say that I won't take responsibility for the things I have or haven't done. I most certainly will. I'm saying that I am not to fit the mold.

End of Day 1.