Manly Men

No- this has nothing to do with a TV show. Not at the moment anyway. Instead it is a couple thoughts that derived from reading a few “googled” responses on the query “Leadership vs. Management”. Some thoughts from those sites were:

  • “As a leader are you taking respons-ability to own and shape the circumstances in which you find yourself? Are you helping other to become respons-able?” –Practice of Leadership
  • 10 Differences Between Leadership and Management( I just chose four, you’ll have to read the rest by following the link):
    1. Concerned with empowering vs Concerned with BEING empowered
    2. Actions demonstrate skill, but are strongly character based vs Actions tend to be more strongly skill-based
    3. More concerned with positive possibilities vs More concerned with negative consequences
    4. Build “systems” to support goals, empower others, and provide direction; promote sharing and collaboration; concerned with removal of performance barriers; and continued growth of team members vs Concerned with segmenting areas of responsibility; become”indispensable” and part of the “system”; overly concerned with what team members do and how…

Those things got me thinking about a discussion between my husband and I on the “gender issue” topic, since it was the subject of the sermon this last Sunday and – of course you know, dear readers, that I blog about it lately to the point of obsession. So of course I was discussing it past the superficial way we sometimes cover each other’s comments (that happens when you’ve been married a long time- a sort of shorthand communication). My husband mentioned that, to him, it was a “non-issue”…which was exactly how I was looking at it a couple years ago… so gave him thoughts that had occurred to me. We usually consider it a non-issue when we are used to environments where women commonly hold positions of leadership, and when we don’t fit into patterns that grate against the mainstream. Go against the flow would be a better metaphor.

It turns out he does consider things an issue when the heat is turned up- both externally and internally- on the need to be more responsible about performing in a leadership capacity. To carry out the sometimes burdensome task of not only providing, but setting an example for children and others, for training, for cooperating in the partnership of marriage. All those places that “sensitive 90’s” men feel pressure.

This “Manly Men” thing of men trying to define themselves in their gender roles is fueling much of what we see in the traditional aspect of cultural responsibilities, roles, and relationships. I think it colors much of the Church debate. The need that men have for clear ideas of what it means to be a man is just as important to them, and us all, as the need for women to be able to define themselves as feminine, as women. It is very basic to our identity and how we function in society.

What I liked about the contrasts between a leader and a manager in some of those articles is the way leadership is much more oriented towards a view of our mutual good, while management is oriented towards position and power. Yet which holds more real power? Even tyrants can only gain power by convincing someone ( lots of someones actually) that they have the greater good for the group in mind. But the difference between the true leader, who we might call ‘Our Hero’, and the tyrant is the eventual discovery of what their actual motivation and inner drive characteristically does in action. Jesus also delivered some teachings on points to watch for in true leadership… and self aggrandizement and dominating he-man style was not among them. Which is why so much of what is being served up to men is confusing. I find it confusing, anyway.

I think my husband is fairly representative of most everyday ‘Joe Christians’. He appreciates help which encourages him and teaches him to overcome his faults, become strong to do good works throughout his daily life, become a better father and husband, feel less alone at “fighting the good fight” and “keep on keeping on”. Sure, he likes all sorts of guy stuff: sports, work, light “guy banter”, etc, but he also wants to be accepted as the kind of man he is: not molded into some constructed image of “Ideal Man”. Not by me, and not by his fellow guys.

Being a Christian Man is not a faked image, or pretended strength, or testosterone-pumped stereotype. It is being a real man, with all the challenges that implies, but with a new nature and the best possible Mentor to make the complete race to the finish line with honor and valor.

“Keeping women in their place” was never a part of that. we were always cheering you on, and wanted just to run beside you, anyway. Because the goal is the high calling of Jesus Christ.

At least I thought so.