The Modern Man: Humility

Humility. It’s an interesting word, really. One I believe is underrated. Makes sense, actually, when you consider that it describe something humble. What I truly find interesting, though, is how important it is to being a good man, yet how counter-intuitive it is to the illusion our culture has of manliness. Humility is the condition of being humble. Humble is defined both as, “Not proud or arrogant; modest,” and as, “courteously respectful.” This isn’t what we see often in our culture.

There’s a specific idea of what a man is that I come across often, from my own social circle to media representations. In short, it’s someone who is:

  • Arrogant
  • Selfish
  • Ignorant

If there is one thing this type of guy is thinking it’s, “Me, me, me.” This guy is capable of achieving success and fame. But will always be the quintessential, “that guy.” The person people gravitate to so they can scavenge off of, but the person few people enjoy being around. This, simply, is not true manliness.

Arrogance skews our perception of ourselves and situations around us. It causes us to put a higher than real value on ourselves and our abilities while forcing us to inherently underestimate and put down those around us. Humility allows us to put value into a purpose beyond ourselves. Being humble means we can value other people in a powerful way. Humility is even viewed as an important leadership trait by the U.S. Air Force

Selfishness is, in a way, a tangible form of arrogance. It gives us a drive to earn more money, to have more things, but it’s for the wrong motives. It causes a hoarding mentality. Men should be driven to earn in order to provide in some way. It yearns in our DNA to provide something to someone. Selfishness does not provide, it keeps. Humility provides time, money, love.

Ignorance isn’t just lack of academic intelligence. It encompasses lack of recognizing other’s values, feeling, needs, and motivations. Ignorance is what gives rise to the “caveman” idea of how men treat women. It stems from believing that you know everything and the only possible way of thought is the one you have. There is no love for dissenting thinkers. Conversely, humility gives us the ability to know we can be wrong. The sight to see there is another way of thought than ours. Awareness of value in our differences.

So how do we begin to incorporate humility in our lives? Begin to give others your first thoughts. We begin to think of ourselves last.  This doesn’t mean become a bathmat, because the value in other people is in us, too. We’re simply refusing to see our value as inherently greater. Being humble is a learned, interior trait. We must put forth effort to achieve it.

Let’s take a moment and picture the ideal we’re trying to reach. We’re trying to distance ourselves from arrogance and selfishness, denying some needs in the process, to be humble and better able to empower others. But, here’s a funny thing: In a group of say, ten people acting selfishly each person only has themselves acting in their interests and nine acting against. The group is going to be bitter and chaotic. But, if those ten people act humbly, the situation flips. Suddenly each member has nine people providing for needs. Now imagine if men in our world began to act like this and began investing in those around them. Imagine the turn around we could begin to see in families, schools, and social issues.

So, why don’t we strive to be humble? We don’t have to expend energy declaring how great we are. We spend time showing others how great they are. We don’t hoard things we have no need for. We give to provide for others. Humility isn’t a cure-all for the issues of today, but it’s on the ingredients list.

 

Advertisements

And Back Again

Wow, it’s been a long time since I’ve written here. It’s a shame, really, because I’m fond of this site. Though it became ignored for a while, it’s always been my home on the internet. So here I am, returning home again. I let myself get lazy and wasn’t writing much. It’s time for that to end.

In looking back over my posts I did realize that my intent for this website is now different. Whereas before it was mostly about my internal ramblings, I want to begin stretching beyond that. Sure, there will still be a lot of posts sharing something I’m learning or going through. But, you can also expect to start seeing posts talking about different things. if I could tell you exactly what those other things are I would, but I’m still not sure exactly what they will be.

I do want to take this opportunity to provide an update on somethings going on with me. I’m no longer interning in church ministry, instead I now work as an in-house editor for an addiction/mental health treatment company in Tennessee. I’m still as single and introverted as ever. I live in my first apartment now. I’m also learning what I can about approaching the road ahead of me, and I’m still making most things up as I go along. I desperately want a dog, but have no place or budget for one. I’d name the pup Fiddlesticks, too.

As for the rest, we’ll all figure that out as we go along. For now, though, I need to run and catch some World Cup action. Auf Wiedersehen!

Motivation

(Author’s Note: This was written a couple of weeks ago, but never got posted in the craziness that followed its creation. I still wanted to share the thoughts. Hope you enjoy)

Motivation is a funny thing. It’s something that you can’t really control, but that you have to have. One of my biggest worries in my work is that I’ll lose motivation. For me, well, it’s something that I can’t really gain from outside. Imagine a sports coach giving a speech before a game, or someone trying to pump up a crowd at a conference. My reaction to these is indifferent, at best. So what am I to do?

That’s a question I’ve never been able to answer. The closest I’ve come is to just tighten my boot straps and bugger on. The problem there is that my performance suffers. This truth applies to everyone: There is a marked difference between you motivated and you struggling. There is no way to fake it. If you’ve lost motivation, others in that area of life will know.

Which brings me to where I am right now, struggling to be motivated. It’s a nasty concoction I face right now: burnout, future-oriented mindset, distractions, and exhaustion. I’ve faced each of these elements before, but never when they’ve combined in some weird, existential version of a Power Rangers villain. These hit at a point where I know where my motivation is. The problem is that what I’m motivated to do I can’t actively work at right now. I have to wait. It will probably be a few months before I can begin. Even then, I shudder to think of what may happen if what I’m hoping for doesn’t pan out.
If you haven’t realized by now, this post has no agenda, no grand point I’m trying to make. This is going back to the original intent of this blog. Something is bugging me, and I’m going to write about it in hopes that it will stop. So that’s where I am. Desperately trying to regain motivation that has focused itself in area of my life where I can do nothing but wait. With it has gone all of the confidence that I’ve built in the last year.

Maybe the problem is over-extension. I’m basically working three jobs right now while trying to build stronger relationships with those around me. That’s enough to make any introvert run and hide. I know it will pay off, I can see it, but it seems like a mirage now instead of reality. Until the day comes where this question of how to force motivation is answered, I’ll simply look ahead at the next thing I feel excitement for. So next Saturday needs to hurry up and get here. I’m motivated for my mission trip, it needs to get here quick.

Sleepless Anticipation

shutterstock_daybreakThis article is different than any other I’ve written for this blog so far. Why? Because it’s completely unplanned. I’m clinical in thought and analytical in process. Before each post I’ve though long on a topic and drafted and revised an outline. Yet, tonight I find myself with sleep eluding my grasp. Through the magic of scheduled posting this won’t go live until the middle of the day, but the honest truth is that I’m sitting here at 2:00am with a spirit in overdrive.

I’ve been like this all day, and the only word that has come close to describe this emotion is anticipation. I’ve always had many hopes. More so than ever I am now working towards many of those. Some I can be direct and open about, such as taking on my first professional writing contract today. Some, well, they’re still classified..

There is one thing I know for certain. I am blessed beyond measure. My plans could fall through in an instant. it’s happened to me before, it will happen again. But to have this feeling, of knowing that I’m on God’s path, is the sweetest taste I’ve ever experienced. I knew academically that I was following God when I took my internship, but the truth was that my heart lagged behind. It was obedience through obligation, but it was still obedience. Now, though,, I’m as different from the version of myself that began this internship as I am from the boy who graduated high school.

So here I am. typing as I think and waiting. For what I don’t know. My plans are nothing compared to the Lord’s. I can do nothing but await His next move with an anticipation I have never yet known. And so i wait upon the Lord in a way I hadn’t thought possible. I feel full right now. Like I said before, this article was unplanned. It’s coming from a spirit about to burst. And what is coming forth is a single phrase: Praise God, His will be done.

 

Boundaries and Respect

shutterstock_100513042I learned long ago that, when it came to social interaction, I was like a rudderless ship. I may not sink, but I had no control over where I went or how smooth a ride I had. If you’ve looked at my past articles you know how introverted I am. I’m still the only person I’ve met who pegged the introversion scale for the Myers-Briggs personality test. A manifestation of my introversion was not quite being able to navigate social interaction as well as others. As I grew, I found out how to change that: boundaries.

Boundaries help me to make sense of things. Like borders on a map, I can look at them from where I am and know where I need to go next. Over the years I have developed many of them, some lenient, some incredibly strict. As I got the hang of social interaction, their original intent, I realized that they were also a great way to show respect to God and to others.

How? We are called to protect the hearts of our brothers and sisters in Christ. For me, having certain boundaries in place helps me do so. Ones like learning someone’s sense of humor before joking (I tend towards humorous, well-meant sarcasm which can be overbearing for some), not gossiping, respecting personal space, and avoiding casual flirtation. I even try to prevent myself from getting too close to a girl who is in a relationship out of respect. All of these help me avoid leading someone along, getting too close too quick, or unintentionally harming someone. Simple? Yes, but sadly often overlooked in interaction.

What about those boundaries that help me honor my Lord? They include some that encourage me to act with honor and respect, and some that in the event of a romantic relationship will help to avoid certain…actions. For example, making an effort to avoid gossip helps to make sure I am building people up and not pulling them down. In a relationship, I’ll make an intentional effort to avoid situations that could initiate temptation (private time is great, yes, just not alone in a residence). Possibly the most radical one compared to our culture is this one: no kissing until marriage. I scratched my head at this one for a while, before shrugging my shoulders and saying “to each his own”. Then, I came across a wonderfully written article about why a man chose to make this vow. This was a couple years ago and, alas, I can’t locate it. But a line in the article struck me. I’ll paraphrase to the best of my abilities:

“Men, look at your relationship. Look at how you interact with your significant other emotionally and physically. Now, think that thought you never want to think: what if you break up? Would you want another man treating your future wife the way you’re treating your girlfriend? If not, you need to change your actions. Until you marry, she is not yours, you are not borrowing her. She belongs to God first, and another man second. If you are not putting forth your greatest effort to keep her heart safe for that person, you are failing in your duties.”

It’s not just kissing, either. Many types of physical contact will be strictly governed. Because until I marry, I am not hers and she is not mine. It is our duty to behave in ways that keeps the other person as intact as possible for their spouse. I know I’ll need help with this. The boundaries I put on my life may confuse some, but make complete sense to me.

A Woman’s Perspective on Chivalry Today

Integrity(Last month I wrote an article titled Chivalry Today. It spawned many interesting discussions, but one that stuck out to me was with my friend Emily. Instead of trying to rewrite her thoughts I asked her to write a guest post for me. So I’ll hand over the post to her. I’m sure many of you will enjoy the break from me talking!)

So commonly, here in America, we associate the word “chivalry” with romance; it’s in the movies, it’s in our commercials. Many a novelist has swooned the hearts of their female audience with a man that opens doors, stoops down to pick up the books that “accidentally” fall to the floor, etc. Ok, cliché, but, true; chivalry is attractive. (At least, to me it is) That is because it is good. But the goodness of chivalry goes beyond rescuing a damsel in distress. It goes beyond being a good incentive to buy a new shampoo. It goes into something called character and the fruit that it produces is the freshest, most original thing since applesauce. With a culture that has lost the word in a terrible fog, here is what I have learned the word to mean through my experiences in life…

Service-      

“You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge in the flesh, but rather serve one another in love.” – Galatians 5:13

This promotes the principles behind chivalry better than anything else I can think of. Real chivalry is simply selflessness put into action. This is the kind of chivalry that women can practice too. The biggest display of a female practicing this kind of chivalry would to me be serving the elders in your life. For example, I’m not just talking about volunteering at a nursing home every Sunday night, (which is completely admirable and should absolutely be done) I am really talking about serving the elders that God has placed in your life; your own grandparents, aunts, uncles, and those who might as well be called that. Why? Because these are the people God has chosen to be in your life. There is nothing like the rewards that come when you humbly invest in those who are wiser, older, and have more experience in their walk with Christ than you do, yet care about you like a child of their own.

Dignity-

“Haughtiness goes before destruction; humility precedes honor.” – Proverbs 18:12

This is so simple to me. Serving one another develops a character that is worthy of honor. This is a perfect example of Proverbs 18:12. Thus, with the honorable features that come with such a character, I think “dignity” when I hear the word chivalry.

Love-

Firstly, I’ll address that romantic stereotype that chivalry has. Unlike my good friend Ben, here, I am extremely extroverted. I come from a large family and have four older brothers. Why is this relevant? Because I have seen firsthand what it is like to be a gentleman in society today. I have witnessed the discipline my parents have had to administrate when their son’s characters lacked the virtuous trait of chivalry. I have also witnessed first hand, as a sister, how hard the struggle is to be a man of Godly character. Yet, I have also seen the difference it makes. I have to say, the greatest men in my life (next to my Dad) are these guys. The way they treat me as a sister, friend, and even a young woman is a testimony of the love Christ has for me. But they practiced chivalry because of their integrity, not because of their romantic interest. (Ok, EW!)

Yeah, “ew”. But, let me remind you that the scripture says that we are all brothers and sisters in Christ. So let this be a factor in the way you relate to other members of the opposite sex.

Keeping it in context-

One time, one of those big bros came home from college (a Bible college, mind you) when I was just a pre-teen and made a statement to my mom concerning the girls at school that boggled my mind and left me musing till I would enter college myself:

(JD) “Me doing so much as opening the door for a girl is like a marriage proposal.”

Let me just address this stereotype: chivalry and romance are two very different things. And, though it is attractive, chivalry should not be taken out of context. Nothing annoys me faster in my interaction with men as when they take my own gentle spirit to be a Godly woman as an initiation to be romantic with them. Yet, this is by far the most frequent and most disconnecting thing that arises in my attempts to create/involve myself in friendships with men. This makes it difficult to show love, because we live in a society that can only condition that word to mean romance; thus we live in a society that has a misconceived idea of chivalry.

Worthy Equals Worthy

Fall in color 12(It’s been a while since my last post. A mixture of pre-Easter internship craziness, focusing on my next Singleroots.com post, and a general block on my writing was a perfect storm to take me out of the game for a few weeks. I finally got something I liked onto paper so here it is!)

Many young, Christian women around my age seem nearly obsessed with one name from the Bible…Boaz. Why? I mean, it’s not exactly an attractive sounding name. There’s not a book of the Bible named after him. He’s not a saint or a famous king. So why are they obsessed? Because of how he treated Ruth after she followed Naomi back to Israel. The Bible mentions how he respected Ruth, how he did things right by the Law. Here is what gets me. Many of these young women talk about waiting for their “Boaz” and then go out and get drunk, or curse like a sailor, or gossip, cheat, or other less than worthy behavior. They seem to forget that Ruth was worthy of a worthy man. There is a strict equation here. Worthy equals worthy.

I’m not saying you have to be perfect. Neither Ruth nor Boaz would have been perfect. For instance, Ruth was a foreigner. She gained a positive reputation from her conduct and loyalty to Naomi.  The key to this is what you strive for. If you speak empty words they will be useless. If your actions are contrary to a God-seeking life, they’ll come back to bite you. Ruth was worthy of a man like Boaz. Boaz was worthy of a woman like Ruth. It may seem paradoxical, but it actually makes sense, doesn’t it?

So here is my idea. Let’s stop talking about waiting for a Boaz or a Ruth and lets just start living like we are. Trust me, showing this to people is as easy as telling it to people. In a culture obsessed with relationships someone who rarely enters into them (or has few, but long term relationships) stands out and people will ask. Even before I started blogging, people would ask why I had been single for so long. Or why I didn’t just ask out random girls. Bold actions speak volumes.

There is a trap here, though, in thinking that if you live a worthy life God will give you a mate the next day. That’s not how it works. The reward for living a God honoring life is God Himself. Growing closer to Him and living more fully in His presence is the reason to do it.

So why don’t we do this: Stop talking about waiting for your Boaz (or Ruth, you get included to, guys), and start living like we actually are. You won’t regret it.

Becoming at Peace Being Single

12342I think the only thing nearly as bad, romantically, as a failed relationship is a failed attempt at one. It’s kind of like striking out before you even get to the plate. In my life, I’ve had two failed attempts. The first ended in a turn down and a close friendship, but any chance at anything more ended when she moved across the country. Neither of us were capable of growing a relationship that long distance. The second didn’t end so well.

So, I’ve had a lot of practice being single for being a recent college graduate. A lot. Most of that practice was in a culture that treated being single as a label to be shed as quickly and readily as possible. The longer I stayed single, the more inadequate I felt. Even in church. There’s a reason I never got involved with the campus ministry at college.

Needless to say, this was something I was far from at peace with. We’ve all been there. Desperately wanting to obtain something. Success, fame, money, family. It becomes the driving force of your life. The one thing you want to achieve, what you’ll work the hardest to get. Mine was finally getting that elusive relationship. The harder I worked, the more discouraged I got. The more I sought advice from the church culture I was in, the more I heard how lacking I was. It got to a point early in 2012 where I had no peace. I was constantly berating myself for imagined failures and circumstances far outside my control.

The most liberating moment in my life came when I began to receive what God was trying to tell me for a while:

  • You are complete in Me.
  • You are fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14)
  • I’m not finished with you yet
  • I’ve got something better for you

I didn’t realize how tightly I had clung to being single as my identity until I let go of it. Once I did I began to sense God more closely than I ever had before. I was blessed to move in with my sister’s family in Tennessee over the summer, giving me a much needed change of culture. I eventually followed God into the church internship I am in now. I am as different from the version of myself that started 2012 as I am from the one that began high school. All thanks to four simple, yet profound, truths I refused to hear.

God has brought me to a point where I’ve embraced being single. Where I look for the pros not the cons. Whereas I used to feel inadequate and hopeless, now I feel blessed with a unique freedom that comes from being single. I was able to readily follow God to Tennessee without a relationship holding me in Alabama. With my life becoming a question mark in August, I find myself free of worrying about how relationship and career might collide. Most importantly, I’m learning to trust God through waiting. I wait with anticipation that one day God may bless with with an amazing woman who will be a source of growth in God. I wait, trusting that He has something better than I could plan. I wait knowing that I am complete because of Him and Him alone.

Have you ever clung to something only to find that releasing it was crucial in growing closer to God?