Men, whatever else you are called by God to do or to be, you are called to be a man. As males, we have lost our identity in the last several decades. Some have called it the sissification of men or political correctness and have tried to combat it by embracing classic customs, rituals, and icons of manliness. They go hunting or mountain climbing or party like Frank Sinatra and the Rat Pack did. But these things have little to do with true manhood.
Deep in the heart of every man is a question – “Do you have what it takes?” John Eldredge talks about this in his book The Way of the Wild Heart. This question haunts each of us until we come to the point of testing, when each man must prove he has what it takes to be a man.
This test is illustrated beautifully in one of my favorite Westerns, the movie Open Range. Charlie (Kevin Costner) and Boss (Robert Duvall) take on a crooked sheriff and the despotic rancher who holds the Old Western town under his thumb. After rescuing a dog that belonged to one of the townspeople, the dog’s owner buys them a drink and introduces them to his grown sons. They get to talking about the evil rancher, Baxter, and Charlie suggests that they could do something about Baxter’s despotism (the test). The dog’s owner replies that they’re just ordinary citizens. Charlie cuts to the quick, “You’re men, ain’t ya’?” (the question). He follows it up with the kind of encouragement that speaks to the heart of a man, “You may not know this, but there’s things that gnaw at a man worse than dyin’.”
Many men approach challenges from a position of fear. Some of us get so complacent in our fear that we live as though the purpose of life is to arrive safely at death. Like the old curmudgeons in the movie Grumpy Old Men, we want to stay safe and die in our sleep. We avoid the test and shout down the question whenever we hear it calling in our heart. We never take any big risks and, consequently, we never accomplish anything big.
What is the big dream in your heart that is being held back by fear?