Yesterday at church we finished up a teaching series called “Manly” (Crossroads Cincinnati, Chuck Mingo). It was a much-needed series dealing with what it really means to be a man, stripped of all of the influence of media and society. While the teaching came from a biblical perspective, it was definitely applicable to anyone regardless of spiritual orientation.
The last message in the series, titled “Man Up,” dealt specifically with the idea of male aggression.
The premise was basically that God designed men to live aggressively, and that there’s a huge deficit in our lives and world when a man’s God-given aggression is misdirected in unhealthy ways, or is made passive and emasculated.
Our media tends to portray manhood as being gratuitously violent and getting laid as often as possible. On the other end, society tends to overreact to the media’s bastardization of male aggression, and tells men to be good little boys that don’t ever get loud, pissed off or forceful. Both of these perspectives miss the mark of true manhood, and result in men being passive in the areas of life that the world actually needs them to be aggressive.
Chuck’s contention throughout the message was that everything evil and jacked-up in our world ultimately stems from male passivity, starting in the very beginning with Adam. According to the biblical narrative, “all hell broke loose” not because Eve ate the fruit, but because Adam didn’t say a damn thing and ate it right along with her. Whether or not you buy into the story of the Creation and Fall doesn’t really matter; it’s a pretty widely shared sentiment. As Edmund Burke said, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”
Biblically speaking, Jesus, the “second” Adam, redeems our manhood and lives out for all men what it looks like to live an aggressive, God-honoring, manly life.
Wherever you fall spiritually, here’s the deal: the world needs you to not be passive. It needs you to be aggressive. “B-E-Aggressive.” Yeah, that was a quote from Bring It On in a post about being manly. Anyhow…
For your marriage to succeed, you must be aggressive in leading, protecting and growing it. For your children to grow up into healthy, functional adults who don’t need extensive therapy, you must be aggressive. For injustice in our world to end, men must be aggressive. You get the picture. Business, community, family, wherever; the world needs men to be aggressive in matters of truth, love, goodness and justice.
So, as I sat through the the message yesterday, it was pretty easy for me to identify areas of my life where I’m passive, but need to be aggressive. My marriage is full of ‘em. Finances. Spiritual Growth. Division of labor in our house.
The question I found myself asking as I thought about these things, was “What’s behind the areas of my life where I’m passive?” What’s the root or the cause? Why do I not live aggressively in the places I need to?
So as I’ve dug into that a bit, I think there are three general causes or roots to our passivity. Insecurity, fear, and laziness. In any given area of a man’s life where he’s being too passive, and needs to “man up,” I think there’s some combination of these three things playing.
Insecurity – do I have what it takes? Fear – of failure, resistance, conflict. Laziness – do I think it’s just too much work?
I think each of these three roots warrants a deeper dive, so I’ll spend the next few posts examining them. In the meantime, I definitely encourage thinking about any overly passive areas of your life, and looking for these roots.
So yesterday was the first truly “formal” interview I’ve had since leaving staff at Crossroads. I’ve had a number of much more casual, “lets get to know each other and see if anything fits,” kind of deals, and a couple phone interviews, but yesterday was the first time I got to sit at a big, imposing conference table across from a guy asking me to tell him about myself.
The gentleman I interviewed with was a great guy, and I felt like the interview went quite well. Of course, I thought I was doing “quite well” cooking the tacos from my last post, so I guess we’ll have to wait and see. I haven’t interviewed for a job in five years, and this was actually the first formal interview I’ve ever had for a non-church job.
Somewhere towards the end of college, I interviewed with a church in the Canton area for a Worship Leader (music director) role. One of my college roommates grew up in the church and suggested I look into the gig, and I was already thinking about going back to Canton, so it seemed like a good opportunity.
Canton’s obviously not the most glamorous or desirable city to live in – I recently described it to some friends as “the armpit of a butthole,” but this church wasn’t even in Canton proper. It was in a little country town called Clinton, outside of Canal Fulton. I was definitely skeptical of being the music guy at a small, rural church, but they seemed to have a very progressive heart to serve their community, and also had some great musicians.
So I do some back and forth over the phone with one of the leaders, and then I go up to Clinton for a “formal” interview. Formal meaning me and a guitar, in a room with twelve dudes hammering me with questions and asking me to sing. I suppose this is par for the course.
Just when things are really getting good, which was about the time I asked all of these volunteer leaders why the Senior Pastor (my would-be boss) wasn’t there for the interview, they asked me if I had any tattoos.
“Yeah, I have some tattoos.” “How many?” “Eight.” “Can we see them?”
I’m guessing that’s the only interview I’ll ever have where I’m asked to take my shirt off.
*Author’s note: If you’re a prospective employer, I promise that all of my tattoos are easily covered and well above my forearms. And no, I won’t show them to you.
So apparently all of the dedication, focus, and mental energy I’m devoting towards finding a job, is draining any amount of common sense I may (or may not) have once had.
Case in point: I made tacos for dinner tonight. How hard can it be to screw up tacos, right? Brown the meat, strain the grease, add water and seasoning. Cook 2-4 minutes, stirring occasionally. This should be so easy that my wife doesn’t even bother coming in to the kitchen to check up on me. She thinks she’s getting a delicious little dinner that even her cooking-impaired hubby can handle. Little does she know…
When making tacos, if you follow all of the directions except for the whole “add 2/3 cup of water” bit, what you get is hamburger that is entirely flavorless, with a strange, rubber-like consistency. Thank God for that wonderful little packet of taco sauce I usually throw away, and my wonderfully resourceful wife. Mission fail, wife to the rescue.
Case in point 2: Yesterday I told a friend that I would run to the grocery store for him. We were having dinner with him and his wife and a few other couples.
My friend-”I need to grab some stuff from the grocery store, but I don’t really have time.”
Me-”I’ve got plenty of time, bro! I’d be happy to go to the store for you before we come over. Send me a text with whatever you need me to pick up.”
My friend’s grocery list text-”We just need buns for the pulled pork.”
Me-”Cool. I can handle that.”
I went to the grocery store, bought all of the ingredients for my wife’s homemade mac and cheese, and realized ten minutes before our dinner that I had completely forgotten the buns. Mission fail.
Moral of the story? At some point in my day, the job search tunnel vision needs to get turned off, and the rest of my relationships and responsibilities must get the attention they deserve.