The Real Truth about ‘Boring’ Men

My wife and her girlfriends have been swearing by Ann Voskamp’s book, One Thousand GIfts, for awhile now. I recently followed a link to one of her blog posts called The Real Truth about ‘Boring’ Men — and the Women who Live with Them: Redefining Boring. 

Though I’ve always thought of Voskamp’s blog and her book as being written for women I really enjoyed her post. In it, she writes in the form of a letter to her sons. Voskamp provides some serious challenges and encouragement for men who want to romance their wives in a Christlike way. Her main premise: the world pushes us to pursue flashy, shallow demonstrations of romance but our call as Christian men is to romance our wives day in and out–through the boring and the ecstatic.

Here’s a quote from her post but you should read the whole thing, it’s really good:

Sure, go ahead, have fun, make a ridiculously good memory and we’ll cheer loud: propose creatively — but never forget that what wows a woman and woos her is you how you purpose to live your life.

I’m praying, boys — be Men. Be one of the ‘boring” men – and let your heart be bore into. And know there are women who love that kind of man.

The kind of man whose romance isn’t flashy – because love is gritty.
The kind of man whose romance isn’t about cameras — because it’s about Christ.
The kind of man whose romance doesn’t have to go viral — because it’s going eternal.

Who You Are – A Video Message to Men

The Anima Project is a group that is making awesome art for Jesus in the form of short videos. The other day my Facebook news feed exploded with my female friends sharing the link to a video for women by The Anima Series called Who You Are: A Message To All Women. The video was spot on with gospel truth, cool music, and an engaging, artistic style.

The Anima Series has a companion video for men–Who You Are: A Message To All Men. Check it out.

If you’re like me, you might find yourself a little uncomfortable with someone saying so many good things about you. The video might expose a little of your cynicism. If you find it uncomfortable to open up, get a little vulnerable and just soak up the good gospel truth about who you are when someone tells it to you, then watch the video again and practice owning what’s yours in Christ.

We have a lot of self-defense mechanisms that prevent us from believing the good things God has said about us. We have also bought lies from people, culture, Satan, and ourselves. Those lies can become deeply entrenched in our minds and hearts and make it hard to receive truth. This video is a small opportunity to do what should become a daily practice for you–filling your head with God’s truth about who He is and who you are in Him.

Andrew Murray on Men and Humility

photo of andrew murray

I was reading me some Andrew Murray today and came across a text that fits well here on the man blog. If you have yet to meet Mr. Murray, his passionate love for God, and his obsession with Jesus, I recommend you do so today. The book I’m reading is Humility.

Murray makes a keen observation that, as men, we can often give more attention to developing and displaying the “manlier” virtues like courage while devaluing those that are less glamorous such as humility. The truth though, is that Jesus is always our example of what a real man is and he is the most humble person to have walked the earth.

From Humility – 

In striving after the higher experiences of the Christian life, the believer is often in danger of aiming at and rejoicing in what one might call the more human, the manly, virtues, such as boldness, joy, contempt of the world, zeal, self-sacrifice–even the old Stoics taught and practised these, while the deeper and gentler, the diviner and more heavenly graces, those which Jesus first taught upon earth, because He brought them from heaven; those which are more distinctly connected with His cross and the death of self-poverty of spirit, meekness, humility, lowliness,  are scarcely thought of or valued. Therefore, let us put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, meekness,long-suffering; and let us prove our Christlikeness, not only in our zeal for saving the lost, but before all in our intercourse with the brethren, forbearing and forgiving one another, even as the Lord forgave us.

Fellow-Christians, do let us study the Bible portrait of the humble man. And let us ask our brethren, and ask the world, whether they recognize in us the likeness to the original. Let us be content with nothing less than taking each of these texts as the promise of what God will work in us, as the revelation in words of what the Spirit of Jesus will give as a birth within us. And let each failure and shortcoming simply urge us to turn humbly and meekly to the meek and lowly Lamb of God, in the assurance that where He is enthroned in the heart, His humility and gentleness will be one of the streams of living water that flow from within us.

Read the rest of Murray’s book, Humility, online here.

The Paradoxical Commandments

TheTenCommandments on stone tablets

I recently reviewed a book called, You’re Stronger Than You Think by Les Parott. At the end of that book, Les shared something called The Paradoxical Commandments by Dr. Kent M. KeithI guess this piece has been around since the late 60’s but it’s brand new to me. The Paradoxical Commandments reminds me a lot of Rudyard Kipling’s poem, If, which you can find on this blog and where Dr. Keith almost certainly got his inspiration.

If you’re interested, Dr. Keith has written several books and has a whole website built around his commandments. The main idea is that there are always lots of reasons not to be great and to do great things but you should be and do so anyway. Are you up to the challenge?

The Paradoxical Commandments

People are illogical, unreasonable, and self-centered.
Love them anyway.

If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish ulterior motives.
Do good anyway.

If you are successful, you will win false friends and true enemies.
Succeed anyway.

The good you do today will be forgotten tomorrow.
Do good anyway.

Honesty and frankness make you vulnerable.
Be honest and frank anyway.

The biggest men with the biggest ideas can be shot down by the smallest men with the smallest minds.
Think big anyway.

People favor underdogs but follow only top dogs.
Fight for a few underdogs anyway.

What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight.
Build anyway.

People really need help but may attack you if you do help them.
Help people anyway.

Give the world the best you have and you’ll get kicked in the teeth.
Give the world the best you have anyway.

Why Men Fail: an article by David Brooks on the decline of men

A painting of Odysseus resisting the siren's call

I recently told you about an article in the New York Times by David Brooks on men and education. Brooks has returned to the topic of men in a more recent article titled, Why Men Fail.

The phenomenal decline of men in recent years has been well documented and can be seen in almost every sphere of life. Brooks briefly reviews a book by Hannah Rosin called The End of Men and agrees with her conclusion: that men are not as good as women at adapting to the socioeconomic changes happening in our times. Women are simply thriving in the new economy and under the new social rules while men are clinging to old mores that seem to no longer be valid.

The answerBrooks and Rosin say, is for men to be more adaptive. In what I’ve discovered to be a typically brilliant turn of phrase from Brooks, he says that if Rosin is right in her assessment of the plight of men, then “men will have to be less like Achilles, imposing their will on the world, and more like Odysseus, the crafty, many-sided sojourner. They’ll have to acknowledge that they are strangers in a strange land.”

Personally, I’d say there is a lot more to the problems and solutions of men than simple adaptivity or lack thereof. The shortage of men with qualities like spiritual fortitude, character, integrity, honor, strength, confidence, and general christlikeness would have a lot to do with it as well–not to mention our culture’s tragic failure to teach men how to be men. Adaptivity may need to make its place in that list though.

Honor Code: an article on education and men

A picture of Henry V

David Brooks is an op-ed columnist for The New York Times. He has written an interesting article titled Honor Code, which discusses the way modern education may be estranging boys. Essentially, his argument is that the esthetic and “honor code” of much modern education is unappealing, uninspiring and negatively biased toward men and that this should change.

Brooks frames his argument by using the picture of Henry V of Shakespeare’s play as an example of a man who is admirable and yet would have been viewed as a problem child in today’s educational system. Give the article a read and tell us what you think. While you’re at it, check out Brooks’ other work. He covers a wide range of material and is always insightful.

Two Man-Movies: Redbelt and Warrior

So I’ve got two man movies for you. They both are about fighters, they both explore what it means to be a man, and they both will get your adrenaline pumping while paying a lot of attention to character development.

First up, a movie you probably haven’t even heard of for some reason: Redbelt. Written and directed by David Mamet. Mamet wrote one of my top 5 favorite movies, The Edge. He’s a bit inconsistent in my book, a few excellent films and several that are less than B but Redbelt is great all around–well written, well acted, well filmed.

Redbelt movie poster

Redbelt is the story of Mike Terry, a jiu-jitsu b.a. who runs a studio in Los Angeles. Mike is a world-class fighter who refuses to compete. He believes competition for money weakens the fighter and adulterates the fight. The most fascinating thing about Mike’s character is his unwavering code of honor and his relentless self-discipline.

I don’t think I’ve ever met a man with the focus and conviction Mike’s character displays and that’s why I was immediately drawn in to the story–because Redbelt is about a man of great strength who is tested in every way and whose principals are questioned on every front. Mike’s steadfast role is contrasted with the character of almost every other person in the movie.

In the end Mike is finally cornered into a competition by money-trouble. At the arena his character is tested and he faces his greatest challenge. Obviously, I won’t tell you what happens but the ending is unpredictable and extremely well-executed. If you want a movie that leaves you thinking for a long time afterward and challenges you to assess your own character, this is it.

Next up, Warrior. It’s much more likely that you’ve heard of or seen Warrior but if you haven’t, get on it. Warrior is a movie about men. The film takes the characters of a father and two sons and, through their struggles, says something about all men.

Warrior movie poster

The three-man family Warrior centers on is volatile to say the least. I grew up in household in which the first six siblings were boys so I know all about putting holes in the walls but the combination of an alcoholic dad and fight-trainer (Paddy Conlon), all-star wrestler and marine (Tommy), and MMA fighter (Brendan) guarantee the Conlon family would win in terms of destruction and violence.

By the time we see them in the film, Paddy is a recovering alcoholic who’s found religion, Tommy is a haunted ex-marine, and Brendan is a jobless father and husband who can’t think of a better way to provide for his family than returning to the amateur MMA scene. Needless to say, the shared past of these three men is just bubbling beneath the surface waiting for the events that comprise Warrior to occur and bring it all to the light.

Tommy enlists his dad, whom he holds a huge amount of anger toward, to train him for a big MMA tournament. This same tournament offers the prize Brendan hopes to earn for his family. So, inevitably, the two brothers are pitted against each other in a fight that is very important to both and very intense to watch.

Excellent character development, fight scenes that draw you in completely, and the story of three men that will, again, leave you considering your own character, demons, and the fighter that is in every man’s heart–all are reasons you should watch this movie.

If you watch them, comment and tell us what you think about the movies. Enjoy.

How Did You Die?

How Did You Die is a poem by Edmund Vance Cooke published, appropriately, in a book called Impertinent Poems. I discovered the poem as a teen in an anthology I was reading. Since then it’s been a favorite of mine. Cooke asks some probing questions about one’s reaction to the hard things in life with the implication that one’s response says everything about a man. You should take this poem with a grain of salt–Cooke’s line about “the Critic”  should obviously not inform your understanding of salvation and grace. Nevertheless, reading How Did You Die a few times a year would be great for any man’s character. For the interested reader, the entirety of Impertinent Poems is available for free at The Gutenberg Project.

How Did You Die?

Did you tackle that trouble that came your way
With a resolute heart and cheerful?
Or hide your face from the light of day
With a craven soul and fearful?
Oh, a trouble’s a ton, or a trouble’s an ounce,
Or a trouble is what you make it,
And it isn’t the fact that you’re hurt that counts,
But only how did you take it?

You are beaten to earth? Well, well, what’s that?
Come up with a smiling face.
It’s nothing against you to fall down flat,
But to lie there — that’s disgrace.
The harder you’re thrown, why the higher you bounce;
Be proud of your blackened eye!
It isn’t the fact that you’re licked that counts,
It’s how did you fight — and why?

And though you be done to the death, what then?
If you battled the best you could,
If you played your part in the world of men,
Why, the Critic will call it good.
Death comes with a crawl, or comes with a pounce,
And whether he’s slow or spry,
It isn’t the fact that you’re dead that counts,
But only how did you die?

Edmund Vance Cooke, Impertinent Poems, 1903