7 things we have learned about men these past 12 years…

theodore-roosevelt

One thing is for certain when it comes to men.  They are a complex bunch with a myriad of temperaments, personalities, defects, excuses, struggles, gifts, strengths and weaknesses.  No man likes to be labeled or put in a box when it comes to who they are and so I will strive to avoid making such generalizations.  This blog will attempt to draw out common attributes and characteristics relative to men as perceived over the course of 12 years of full-time men’s ministry.

Here we go:

  1. A lot of Men find it difficult to make a commitment to a vision that is not their own. Men typically like to carve out their own path or find their own niche when it comes to their life and faith.  There is something core to a man’s nature that programs him to be independent and entrepreneurial minded when it comes to his future.  Perhaps it is the spirit of Adam in the garden that tells him to explore and venture into the unknown.  Not a bad quality to have overall, especially when this comes to developing a new business or idea, but often this characteristic can lead a man to experience great periods of isolation and loneliness in his journey.  As the old saying goes, “it is lonely at the top.”
  2. Men are very competitive by nature.  Men like to win and, sadly, some men even enjoy seeing the collapse of other men.  This manifests itself of course in sports, but when it comes to success in business or life, men very often compare or measure their own success with that of other men.  A humble man can truly appreciate the success of others, especially when it comes to a man’s peers.  A very competitive and prideful man struggles to find joy and appreciation for another man’s success.
  3. Men love good food.  Men will come to a program or event if their is a reputation for good food.  The content of the program is important, but if the food is good they will be there.  Food is something which draws men together and can bond even the most introverted with the most extroverted and the most miserable of personalities with the most congenial.  Men remember the food, but may very quickly forget the words of wisdom or lessons dispensed from the retreat, conference or workshop.  I guess the way to a man’s heart is indeed through his stomach!
  4.  Men like to laugh.  Give a man permission to laugh at others and himself, in the right setting, and you have a very pleasing experience for a man.  We have found that this is so important when it comes to presenting difficult topics and issues facing a man.  He needs to laugh when things get awkward and challenging to his personal creed and belief system.  If a man perceives that he is being oppressed by a schedule or a presentation he will be quick to judge and check out emotionally and sometimes even physically.  There is a danger with humor as men can often debase the situational comedy and use it to bring negative humor and sarcasm to fit in and this results in making others uncomfortable,  We must use caution, purity of mind and a light hearted spirit when we interject humor into a man’s life.
  5. Men like to be challenged and accomplish things that others say cannot be done. Tell a man he can’t do something and sit back and watch him do it.  Especially when men are put in groups, they bond together to form an unstoppable force for change and good if directed towards a positive cause or mission.  Although men are very personally driven to succeed, men have the great ability to work together if they have good leadership above them and our empowered to think for themselves and develop plans to solve problems.  Men can summon forth great courage and fortitude displayed in carrying out their mission.  Unfortunately, men are not often enough given the chance to demonstrate these qualities, especially in their workplace and in faith settings.
  6. Accountability does not come easy to a man.  The sacrament of reconciliation is not a man’s most enjoyable space.  Men often struggle to face themselves as they are. They would rather believe a false narrative about themselves then face the hard truths about who they are as men.  Why?  Because men are the hardest on themselves. They know when they are weak and they don’t want anyone else to tell them this information.  It comes down to their pride and big egos.  The culture tells a man he should be able to do certain things and when he fails, he hides or shirks this responsibility.  The Church tells a man his role as head of his household, but She doesn’t always tell him how to do it and he is usually never held accountable for his actions.  Therefore a man becomes a leader without any governance or accountability.  Often, this man will make bad choices for himself and those in his care and periphery.  Men need accountability, but they are usually the last to seek it.
  7.  Men need other men to encourage and mentor them, but they often fail to see this need.  Pull yourself up by your boot straps!  Get it done or else we will find someone who can!  You made your bed, now lie in it!  These thoughts and others like them have crept into every man’s mind at some point in his manly journey.  They are just awful words.  They offer nothing but discouragement and stress.  I believe them to be very manipulative to a man’s psyche.  Every man needs a band of brothers. They need other men to encourage and sharpen them plain and simple.  Most men get this need when they find themselves surrounded by other good men.   The fact is most men have a difficult time accepting their need for other men and rejecting the negative mantras that they have been told throughout their lifetime.

There are many other attributes about men that we have learned and in the future we will blog about them, but for now stew on these truths which have been tested over the course of hundreds of programs for men.

Your brother in Christ,

Mark Houck