Outstanding post on lessons learned about how to be a better man from the now defunct tv show Friday Night Lights. Here are the main points but read the entire well written article
- Relish the underdog role
- A man needs to come to peace with his father
- Nurture manliness
- A man seeks redemption
- Texas forever (remember your roots would be my paraphrase for those not from Texas)
- A man’s closest ally is his wife
- A man needs a team
- Clear eyes, full heart, can’t lose (When you have a clear conscience and play with everything you have, you can never lose)
Here is someone on the road to redemption and I hope he makes it!
If you are a basketball fan, you will remember Dennis Rodman–his defense, his rebounding, his flamboyance! I have not followed his life after basketball but I am guessing that it has been rough–likely much of it self-inflicted. Just watched his rambling acceptance speech into the basketball hall of fame (thanks to the heads up by Jon Acuff at Stuff Christians Like) and I value his honest and hard words about his failure to be a good son, a good husband and a good father–many of these words could be my own as well. How moving to hear him describe the men in his life! I pray that God may give Dennis grace to continue to live a transformed life even as I pray that for myself.
In a most unusual post, Brett and Kate McKay write about how to lose with dignity and celebrate with grace. Beginning with the gracious way the American Civil War ended between Generals Grant and Lee, ending with the victory of Churchill over Chamberlain in 1940 and with American football in between, the Mckay’s come up with the following principles.
Accept responsibility for the loss.
Bow out gracefully.
Acknowledge the winner.
But a failure to acknowledge the victory of your fellow competitor shows a lack of respect for him; a man can be your rival, but you can still admire his courage and his fight, and the fact that on this day, he fought harder. Sulking away also shows a lack of discipline on your part—you are so overwhelmed with anger and grief at your loss that you cannot think of anything else but your own pity. Being able to control your feelings in that moment is the mark of strength and self-control, not to mention perspective.
And in some cases, even support the winner.
Learn from the loss and move on.
From Gary Thomas, Pure Pleasure
I recently passed through a string of three significant injuries in three years—one a year—from training for marathons. My doctor said, “You know, Gary, you’re in your midforties now. Maybe it’s time to take up a different sport. Have you thought about riding bikes?” So I switched doctors.
In other words, while I ought to know what truly gives me pleasure, I also need to know my obligations and responsibilities. In certain seasons of life, a person’s personal desires must give way to the greater good of those around him.
While pleasures are important, they’re not paramount.
For many men, risk, excitement, and adventure is a necessary pleasure zone, which (like all others) needs to be managed or scheduled in.1 As a therapist, Dr. Weiss has a take that I lack. He counsels risk takers, “Remember that if risk is your primary soul pleasure zone, this is the well from which you drink. It’s as satisfying to your soul as any sensory experience you could have.”
I am a bit confused by this article on male friendships. I think a lot of men would agree that the following are often characteristic of what it looks or feels like when men get together BUT I think most men want more and don’t know how to get it. That is why Promise Keepers was so successful and why men’s groups are needed. Yet (I suspect) men are still reluctant to attend the meetings. Solutions welcome. Here are a few key comments from the article.
Speaking about a time when a group of men were together for a weekend away:
“It’s a judgment-free, action-packed, adventure-based weekend,” says Mr. Vasu. “We go hiking, whitewater rafting, rock climbing, fly-fishing.”
What they don’t do is sit around as a group, the way women do, sharing their deepest feelings.
Male friendships like these are absolutely typical, but don’t assume they’re inferior to female friendships
Researchers say women’s friendships are face to face: They talk, cry together, share secrets. Men’s friendships are side by side: We play golf. We go to football games.
“Our conversations deal with the doing of things rather than the feeling of things,” says Mr. Leonard.
Very interesting statistic below (read the article to see what women do). In fact, I am heading out later today to see a “rusted” friend from 5th grade–haven’t seen each other for 35 years?
“Men, meanwhile, tend to build friendships until about age 30, but there’s often a falloff after that. Among the reasons: Their friendships are more apt to be hurt by geographical moves and differences in career trajectories. Recent studies, however, are now finding that men in their late 40s are turning to what Dr. Grief calls “rusted” friends—longtime pals they knew when they were younger.”
Agree with the following statement that there is a lot of love expressed in male friendships but I am not so sure that men talk about these things with their wives.
“I wouldn’t talk about my insecurities with the guys,” says Mr. Schulsinger, a consultant. “All my real insecurities—about work, finances, the kids—those I share with my wife.”
A lot is left unspoken among Mr. Schulsinger’s friends, but the love is there.
In my opinion, bottom line, men in order to be healthy–or at least to avoid living with anger and resorting to addictions to cover up the pain–need to talk about insecurities, fears and longings with other men.
Just my opinion. Comments?
While visiting in Houston, a friend of mine commented that he was a people watcher and he had observed how tired most men look. Why is that?
I have tried to be honest about my journey with depression over the past few years. But, as I have written in other places, beneath a lot (but certainly not all) depression lies anger. And being honest about my own anger has not been nearly as easy to admit and discuss with people. Not that I should be talking about it with everybody.
Indeed my personal journey with depression (sounds kind of strange–like depression has been my friend) has often been intertwined with anger. By being willing to talk about my own struggles with depression, others have been willing to admit their own depression and talk about it a little. It gives me no joy that there are so many men out there fighting the dark cloud but it is encouraging to know that this battle is not one anyone needs to fight alone. And it does bring me joy when my friends begin to get help to climb out of the despairing pit.
I suppose that normally anger seems to come before depression. And according to David Benner, anger comes out of an experience of pain or an experience of loss. So, the real challenge is for men to talk not just about our depression and anger but also about our pain and losses. And that is where it gets tough doesn’t it?
What got me going on this topic is an article that my dear wife sent me, an article by Anthony Bradley in World Magazine titled, “Do Men Hurt?” Bradley writes,
Sadly, for many men, pain is often dismissed, ignored, or confused with sin. Many men do sinful things not out of a rebellious spirit but to self-medicate real pain. We all find ways to deal with pain, and sometimes it opens the door for sin.
Reminds me of a post I made about a book I real last year by Terrence Real,
I don’t want to talk about it,
One reason so many men face depression is that they do not face or deal well with the pain in their lives–often leading to addictive behavior to cover up the pain.
Pretty sensitive areas to discuss in a small group, eh? The problem is that for too many of us, there is no safe place, not even the church! Not that I am down on the church–don’t misunderstand me. Its just that the church seems to rarely be the place it could be. For more on that, read Larry Crabb’s excellent book, The Safest Place on Earth. Here is more from Bradley on this topic.
Many churches do not provide safe space for men to confess being in need of healing (Luke 4, Isaiah 61) due to the hands many men have been dealt, sins committed against them in the past or present, their own addictions, confusions, passivity, anger, and so on. As a result, we have churches full of unhealed and wounded men who often medicate their pain in secret or take it out on their wives, children, friends, and co-workers. The dysfunctional cycle of self-medication creates even more generational sin and pain.
Anyway, I am finding this post to be a healthy challenge for me to think about my own openness–how much am I willing to share about my pain with others? What am I hiding? And, how am I doing in creating safe places for men who need to talk about their pain? I know it means that I have to think about ME less, make myself more available to build relationships of trust. Likely, it means that less may very well be more in the long run. And as Bradley exhorts in his article, all of us need to remember that it is only relationship with the Triune God that can bring the healing that we need.
Want to end this post on a positive note and so here is a vision that Bradley gives worth praying towards. Again, the link to his entire article.
I look forward to the day in ministry contexts where I hear stories of men growing up in churches who were able to get help early because it was a normal way the church loved their men.