The question that haunts every man, “Do I have what it takes to be a man? Am I really a man when it counts?”1 John Eldredge address this question in his book, Wild at Heart. He gave several humorous examples that can ring true for many of us. “Let me ask the guys who don’t know much about cars: How do you talk to your mechanic? I know a bit about fixing cars, but not much, and when I’m around my mechanic I feel like a weenie. So what do I do? I fake it; I pose. I assume a sort of casual, laid back manner I imagine the guys would use when hanging around the lunch truck, and I wait for him to speak. ‘Looks like it might be your fuel mixture,’ he says. ‘Yeah, I thought it might be that’, as if we would know. I certainly wouldn’t have any idea.”2
I remember a few years back patting and then squeezing the shoulders of Ernie Egger as I walked behind him in the aisle at church. Ernie is one of our senior members of our church, well into his seventies. You would have thought I was squeezing granite. I felt like a weenie. Ernie worked hard all of his life, physically hard. Not like me, teaching algebra to middle schoolers and signing detention slips while sipping coffee.
I remember a few more years back attending a men’s session on sharing the gospel. I felt like the only one who dreaded the prospect of talking to an unbeliever. The thought of going out and talking to strangers about my faith was terrifying. I was surrounded by these pillars of faith, men who could list all the books of the Bible and quote scripture at the drop of a hat. I felt like a weenie.
I remember sparing with my martial arts instructor, Joel Purvis. I was ten years younger, in great shape, tall, lean, in the prime of my life. He was short, had gray hair, and a beer belly, but he kicked my ass, for many years to come. Probably still could. I felt like a weenie.
Finally, I remember many years back bagging my first quail. I had been hunting a couple times without any success. Was feeling like a weenie because all the other men were hitting what they shot at; I was just spreading lead pellets over the hillsides. Finally, one particularly unfortunate quail flew right at me and landed less than ten feet away. I could not miss. When I proudly showed off my trophy minutes later to the group, I was greeted by silence, then one man asked, “What is it?” Granted, there was just a few bones and feathers left at that range, but I hit him!
Ever shake the hands of a logger? Two of my fingers would equal one of his.
Ever talk to a missionary after 30 years of serving in the field? I made coffee once at a men’s Bible study.
Ever stand next to a basket ball player? I feel pretty tall standing around my junior high students.
Ever talk to a computer tech about fixing your computer? I feel like, well, maybe not a weenie because they are kinda nerdy in the first place, but you get my point.
I need guys like Larry Buck, Anthony Marcoccia, and Paul Lano on my speed dial when things go wrong at my house, because those guys can really fix things. Things in the walls, under the floor, or hanging from ceiling. I have to read directions.
The truth is, most if not all men feel like weenie’s if they get out of their field of expertise. Men who step out of their comfort zone are, you guessed it, uncomfortable. We all have experienced that.
Anyone remember asking their first girl out on a date? Looking at the phone, trying to decide if it would be better to call or ask them in person. Rejection is so much harder face to face. I always called.
Esquire magazine describes a man this way. “A man looks out for those around him — woman, friend, stranger. A man can cook eggs. A man can always find something good to watch on television. A man makes things — a rock wall, a table, the tuition money. Or he rebuilds — engines, watches, fortunes. He passes along expertise, one man to the next. Know-how survives him. This is immortality. A man can speak to dogs. A man fantasizes that kung fu lives deep inside him somewhere. A man knows how to sneak a look at cleavage and doesn’t care if he gets busted once in a while. A man is good at his job. Not his work, not his avocation, not his hobby. Not his career. His job. It doesn’t matter what his job is, because if a man doesn’t like his job, he gets a new one.”3
A man can always find something to watch on television? What rubbish. This is the world’s view of a man. If he does not care if he gets busted, why then ‘sneak’ a peek? How about saying to the woman, “Excuse me ma’am, could you lean over a bit more and undo that top button?” Some single guys might try that line, (possibly some married ones if their wife is not around), but suggesting this somehow defines a man is ridiculous.
Immortality is passing along expertise? If there is such a thing as immortality, it will not be found in passing along skills. How many of you have parents or grandparents who shared with you some ‘skill’ they learned from their parents or grandparents, and name the person who first taught that skill to a distant family member. At best you might go back a generation or two.
Eldredge points out the key to defining who you are, is discovering your purpose in life. He then goes on to describe that all men want a battle to fight, an adventure to go on, and a woman to rescue. In our men’s group the other day I asked them to define a man in one sentence. After some discussion, I shared that most of us get caught up in the descriptions of men as if that would define them. Yes, most men want battles to fight, adventures to go on, and someone to rescue, (preferably a woman), but those are descriptions, not definitions. Is our purpose in life to be a warrior? An adventurer? A rescuer?
What happened to Captain Meriwether Lewis, of the Lewis and Clark expedition?
After the return of the Corps of Discovery, the men of the corps were treated to celebrity status. This new found fame was more than welcomed by one of its leaders – Captain Meriwether Lewis. After reveling in St. Louis he was off to Washington to spend time with President Jefferson and his new appointment as Governor of the Upper Louisiana Territory. Lewis had some problems adjusting to a desk job and began drinking; this caused more of the bouts of depression that Lewis suffered from.
When James Madison became president in 1809, he refused to pay Lewis’ vouchers for legitimate expenses. This sent Lewis into extreme debt and forced him to go back to Washington to explain the situation. More drugs and drinking. On the way to Washington he committed suicide.4
He did not have any more battles to fight, his adventure was over, and there was no beauty to be found, but did those define who he was? What he was created for? Maybe Lewis thought so. If men think battles, adventures, and rescuing women is what they are created for, no wonder so many struggle after they retire, or reach middle age.
To answer the question, “Am I really a man?” you need to know what a man is. We will not find that answer in popular culture, or in history books. What is the purpose of our creation? Is it for a battle, adventure, and a beauty? No. William Lane Craig wrote, “First the Chief purpose of life is not happiness, but the knowledge of God.”5 Simply put, my one sentence would define a man as, a creature created in the image of God, with the purpose of communing with Him.
1. Eldredge, John. Wild at Heart. Nashville: Nelson Books, 2001. Print
3. Chiarella, Tom. “How to be a Man.” Esquire Magazine. Esquire.com, 15 March 2015. Web. January 9 2016
4. Ronda, James P. Lewis and Clark among the Indians. Nebraska: University of Nebraska Press, 1984. Print
5. Craig, William L. Hard Questions Real Answers. Wheaton: Crossway, 2003. Print
Do you have what it takes? by James Glazier is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.
Based on a work at https://www.knowingforsure.com/category/blog/.