Men have a hard time defining what’s most important to manhood. What they really want to live and die for. Impressionable men spend aimless years looking for something to ascribe worth to them. They aim for what others say should be important. Insecurity and self-worth are hurt and medicating this pain becomes a chief priority. Men end up looking to up their earthly status by finding value in the oddest, but most common places.
Let’s talk about the Lies of Manhood, and how we’ve been misled to buy into selling out to the wrong priorities.
Lie #1: Manhood’s Chief Currency Is Women
Women are neither trophies nor property. Having many women or one really great one doesn’t equate to being a great man. It’s not like a good woman hasn’t married a lame slacker. Just because you can pull girls doesn’t mean you’re an upright dude.
Lie #2: A Man’s Value is Based Off Wealth Status
This weekend I asked a few people, “Does God care whether people are poor?” One person responded that God doesn’t want anyone to be poor.
Now, to be fair, no one defined what “poor” is during this conversation. A villager in India may be insulted by us considering them below some arbitrary poverty line. Who am I to say their comparative lack is poverty? If they live and die living a simple life without having to endure the rat race, it’s not mine to label them as poor.
I do think this: God is concerned with safety, health, and people getting fed. But God is not a Capitalist. And he’s not concerned about our accumulation of wealth.
Wealth status can give a man the feeling of power and security, control over some of his circumstances, and control over others. Does that define his value as a person? Maybe so. He might be evaluated by his peers as money hungry and selfish. Having great wealth doesn’t ascribe us worth as men and doesn’t make our manhood great.
If you want to be rich, be a giver. Our treasures and the value we think they give us merely turns to dust.
Lie #3: Manhood is Having a Successful Family
Building a family is a commendable thing. Caring for your family above yourself and material gain does set a man a shoulder above the rest. But merely bearing children and trying to turn them into great sports kids or honor roll students doesn’t ascribe worth to you as a man. Sometimes being that father that pressures kids to be stars only grinds down their manhood’s legacy.
Don’t aim to have a family to fulfill yourself. If you have a family, aim to set them up to win, and be great people the rest of their lives.
Lie #4: I’ve got to be Hard
Being a jerk and a hardass doesn’t make you a better man. Tough guys are rough to get along with. Which usually equals pushing people away, isolating yourself, and dying alone. Okay, sure that was bit a of a stretch.
Being a douche doesn’t score you any points in this life. I can appreciate not allowing people to walk over you, but if you don’t ever slow down, serve people and reach out to others, your manhood status in this life will continue to be low.
Lie #5: Men Don’t Cry
Although I’m mostly in agreement with Ron Swanson’s Pyramid of Greatness, which might be the penultimate guide to Manhood, it’s okay to cry not only when you get hit by a bus, hear of Sebastian’s passing, or see the Grand Canyon.
Lie #6: Always Play it safe
I had a number of bad injuries when I was young. When I was 5 I was shot in the eye with a BB gun. I actually was blind out of my left eye for a while. The doctor said I couldn’t play rough anymore, and it really made me fearful as a kid. I was quiet growing up, but this only made me less outgoing. I was trapped in this box, needing to place it safe for fear of going blind forever.
I became even more quiet and insecure. But something good happened to me.
In 6th grade I got in my first fight. Beat this older kid up that picked on me. Overnight I was this middle school sensation. Kids wanted to fight me all the time. I got in 7 fights during junior high. I’m not encouraging children to fight, but I had to stand up for myself. And it changed my life. Instead of cowering, being fearful, or backing down, I stood up. When I broke through this wall, I started for the first time becoming my own person and instead of fear of blindness controlling me, I was able to gain confidence and get some vision for myself.
If you’ve been playing it safe and been fleeing from risk for too long, it’s time to take a risk. Get out there, try something new, and put something on the line. Get some new experiences under your belt and I promise you’ll widen you’re horizons.
Lie #7: Play it hard
Some guys get their joy from hard living. And some people are really good at it. Living at risk doesn’t make you more or less of a man. It merely means you’re doing “stuff.”
How many lives do I get?
I have to admit that the Play It Safe point was in part spurred by watching Lonely Island’s new music video “YOLO.” It just came out on SNL this weekend. If you’ve ever thought men are born to go to school, get a job, raise a family, pay off a mortgage and die, then you’ll hate this video.
Don’t live your life just playing it safe. As it would be absurd to cut out your teeth so you never bite your tongue (watch the video), it’s crazy to live a life with zero risk. Don’t just stay indoors. And don’t look to wealth, women, and success to ascribe your manhood worth. Where do you find your worth as a man?
Top photo by Daniela Vladimirova
Second image by http://ronsays.tumblr.com