If you’re like me, the latest mass shootings we’ve experienced in this country have really been on my mind. I’ve listened to the news reports and listened to podcasts. I’ve heard the opinions of others, I’ve searched my own heart, and I’ve asked myself plenty of questions in the hope of making sense of it all. Not only that, I’ve ruminated much on the state of our country, and like many of you, I’m sick to see where we are.
I’m also extremely tired of hearing our leaders in Washington blame those across the aisle. I’m tired of hearing about toxic masculinity and how it’s ruining our communities. I’m tired of those that blame blacks, whites, cops, the economy, and mental health.
But, more than that, I’m tired of men not being men.
I’m also disappointed. I’m also disappointed in myself and the men around me. When’s the last time we stopped blaming someone else and looked in the mirror? You don’t like how things are going today? What are you doing about it? Maybe we’re the ones to blame.
Last week I sat with my mentor (yes, my mentor – something we should all have) and good friend over coffee. We discussed the issues and concerns we see going on in our society and he said, “It seems we keep looking to the end of the river to see where it went off-course instead of going back to the beginning to find the problem.”
I believe he is correct. To shed more light on this, please bear with me as I tell a story.
I remember the day I received my Nebraska Hunter’s Safety Certification as a kid. I remember when they gave me the orange patch that would be a symbol of my graduation from the class. I also remember how I promptly gave it to my mom to sew onto my hunting jacket. This patch proved that I had completed a course that made me a safe hunter.
But it was so much more than that.
I also remember the men who taught me the class. I remember the beards, the hunter’s hats, the flannel shirts, the manliness; a manliness that was not toxic but rather incredibly empowering to my young mind and spirit. They taught me the importance of respecting the power of a gun and what the outcomes would look like if I disrespected or took that power for granted. I remember learning that it was a tool that would help me feed my family and protect it if needed as a last resort.
More than that, I remember how these men accepted me as a part of the tribe. They taught me something about being a man. Earning that patch was a rite of passage into the tribe. Most importantly, I also remember the first time I walked into the woods with no one and nothing but my shotgun and dog. I had become a man.
Earlier, I expressed how disappointed I am in us. I’m disappointed because we’ve allowed our boys to lose the ability to recognize what a real man filled with God’s truth is.
We complain that our kids won’t go outside to play because all they want to do is play video games. But where were we when our schools began taking PE out of school? Coaches punish their kids with exercise and can’t figure out why they won’t work hard in practice. Could it be we’re teaching them that hard work is punishment?
When is the last time you physically pushed yourself? We tell our kids to work hard in school but never pick up a book ourselves. We can’t figure out why kids have no creativity, but we have never taught them to swing a hammer and build something with their own hands. Why did we allow the Ten Commandments to be taken out of the school? Furthermore, in our quest for making our kids safer, are we only trying to control them more, build walls and fences around them, and take away their rights and liberties?
We complain about the boys our daughters are interested in but we’ve never taught nor modeled how a man should treat a woman. We spend more time and energy leading at work than we do in our own families. We’re proud of the vision statements and mission statements we instilled in our workplace, but we have never taken the time to do it in our own homes. Do our kids even know what a value is?
Men! It’s not guns, drugs, government, video games, or social media. Those are the byproducts of the absence of men who are fathers to the younger generation. We are the solution to these issues.
The truth is, toxic masculinity is real. However, it manifests itself when good men choose not to lead from a place of ultimate truth. It’s not about us. It’s about God’s Kingdom and His sons and daughters.
“Be strong, and show yourself a man.”
1 Kings 2:2 (ESV)