Yesterday, I came across this blog entry about manliness. The author was making a few comments being a man- basically, being a person that does what has to be done.
It’s a pretty fun piece; it reminds me that we all want to be that kind of person. The funny thing is that we usually can’t do it alone. We need other people to teach us how- even if we know what one looks like; we just don’t know how to get there.
I used to be a teacher. If there were a student that was habitually or grossly inappropriate I would have the “man” talk with him. I would ask the student to step out into the hall and ask him a question: “What sort of man are you showing us you are?” (I never had to do this with female students.) Sometimes, if I was responding to a particularly offensive action I would follow with: “What sort of man would I be if I let you do/say that?” The students would rarely respond. They just got very quiet. I wouldn’t give them any punishment. I would just tell them to come back into the room when they were ready.
I didn’t pull this card out often, maybe once or twice a year. Perhaps that’s why it was so effective. They would eventually come back into class, subdued and quiet. Over the next few classes they would try to be better, they didn’t always succeed but they would try. Mainly it gave me a connection with that student. They knew I cared about what sort of person they were and for some reason it made them care as well. To them my discipline wasn’t about punishment anymore- it was about character formation. That made all the difference.
We all want to “be a man” or “woman,” sometimes we just need to be shown how. I wrote about this a few days ago when I posted my group’s translation of 1 Timothy 3:14-4:16. We need one another to correct us, to teach us, to encourage us, and to believe in us.
People weren’t meant to live in isolation. We need community to help form us, but for some reason we are afraid of it. I think we are afraid of not measuring up, of being a failure.
In 1 Timothy 4:15 Paul tells Timothy to immerse himself in these things (all the things that constitute a godly life and in his public ministry) so that everyone can see his growth. I’m sure that Paul knew that Timothy would screw up sometimes, but Paul believed in him. Being a public figure meant that the community was looking towards him to know how to live. Learning how to deal with failure is a large part of living.
Being a man is hard. I guess that’s why it takes a man to do it.