Tuesday, June 19, 2012

The True Measure of A Man

By:  Richard E. Simmons III

Here is what I hear from men all the time:  They struggle with feelings of 1) insecurity, 2) inadequacy, 3) isolation, 4) loneliness, and 5) fear washed in anxiety.  Why?  They have the wrong set of dreams—all wrong—and they don’t know who they are.

It is heartbreaking to see men waste their entire lives trying to convince other people that they are someone they are not.  This is why men’s souls do not grow mighty in spirit and courage.  They spend their existence covering up and living in fear they will one day be discovered as a fraud.  There is a voice inside them that keeps telling them that in spite of all the ornaments they collect in life, they are still not OK.  The results are a lifelong tension with guilt, shame, and anxiety.  Jerry Leachman, Chaplain of the Washington Redskins

There is one question we men are always asking ourselves.  It often seems to be the central question that must finally be answered before we will make certain decisions or take a definitive course of action.  It is a question, I believe, that haunts many a man’s life:  What will people think about me?

Men so often define themselves by what they do, who they know, or what they own.  And when they do so, they unwittingly set themselves up for a great confusion and failure in their personal lives.

When we equate our worth as human beings with our individual performances, we
put our identities at grave risk.  Any type of perceived failure from the
perspective of an ego built on such a shaky foundation can easily lead us to
conclude that our lives are not worth very much.

Many men are no longer concerned with lives of excellence.  Instead, no matter
how much a man accomplishes, he does not believe he is successful unless others
know about it.  We now regard success as achievement plus proper recognition of
our achievement.  The recognition is what makes us feel worthwhile and that we
measure up as men.  Christopher Lasch, author of The Culture of Narcissism, has
perhaps said it best:  [Men] would rather be envied for their material success
than respected for their character.

When all is said and done, we must accept that we have a radically unstable,
temporal foundation on which we have anchored our identity and that something is
fundamentally wrong with this approach to life.

What would happen if we let the person who determines our worth be God?

Fear and shame are a primary cause of depression in men during times of
trouble.  Too few men know how to share with others their fears, the pain in
their lives, and their struggles, particularly if it makes them look weak or
like a failure.  So men naturally clam up and silently carry the load on their
backs.  In the process they withdraw from others and live very lonely, isolated

This withdrawal, of course, has a significant impact on our relationships with
other men because what we really fear is how our failure will appear in the eyes
of our peers and especially those we consider our friends.  This explains why we
always try to maintain the appearance that our lives are flourishing and that we
really have it together but have no lifelong deep relationships.  If all I can
offer you is a superficial image of my true self, why should I expect to end up
with anything but superficial relationships that have no real depth?  Fear of
failure and our inability to deal with that fear create shallow personal

The great lesson of human history is that people are always looking for
something else, anything else, to give them significance and security.  For so
many men in the world of business and commerce, God is not an option.

What too many good men fail to realize is that this approach to life is utter
foolishness.  The ball field, the bedroom, and the wallet are merely outward
experiences that fail to translate into permanent inner fulfillment and
contentment.  Furthermore, as time goes by, the ball field, the bedroom, and the
wallet are never able to convince us in our innermost being that we truly
measure up as men.

Character, wisdom, and love make up the essence of what it means to be an
authentic man.

When we think of manhood and masculinity, we should recognize that character,
wisdom, and our ability to love others are at the heart of being a man.

I believe at times we all find ourselves subject to the pull of comparison, the
yearning for admiration and fame.  After all, these are the measurements of
worldly success.  Arrogance and pride, however, unlike true and humble
contentment for a job well done in the service of others, lead us down a
slippery and destructive path as we try to impress others.  They often cause us
to inflate and embellish our successes and accomplishments in the process.

Have you ever thought about how much different your life would be if you did not
fear and worry about what others thought of you, if you never had to impress

If we cannot be transparent with ourselves and also cannot be transparent with
others, then who are we?

 * All of us, without God’s help, live lives of illusion.  We spend almost all
of our lives trying to prove to other people and ourselves that we are something
other than what we really are.

Humility comes powerfully into our lives when God becomes the audience we
perform for.  When this happens, human opinion becomes less and less important
to us.

One of the main reasons we are so discontent with our lives is because we are
always comparing ourselves with others.  We measure how well we are doing in
comparison with others.  We make mistakes and we feel inferior; we experience
success and we feel superior.  As we have seen, our emotions and our confidence
moves with the market and flows with the opinion of others.

Helen Keller, a woman born deaf and blind, knew and understood that the only
thing in life worse than being blind was not to have a vision for your life.

A vision for life truly changes a man and his response to the world around him;
it changes him dramatically.

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