- Tue Aug 6, 2013
- 2 comments
I am one of those people who “believes the best” about other people.
In my career as a junior guy working his way up and as a CEO I have met all sorts of leaders in the marketplace and, now, in the church world. I have noticed over the years that both leaders and managers in Christian settings (like churches or ministries) are engaged with much less cynicism by their junior people at the beginning of a relationship because there is this perception that a common set of spiritual rules are shared and believed. This makes employees in those settings feel more secure, more loyal, and more trusting of their leader, his promises, and the possibilities of moving personally forward and developing. “We” are in this great cause together and, after all, “Do to others what you would have them do to you” is in red letters, we work from the same playbook, and this is “God’s work” that we are advancing together. It’s all smiles, honeymoons, and hope. Woo-hoo!
Then it gets weird.
Over time (and it could take years) you begin to see and sense things. Your sniffer goes off and you catch strong whiffs of self-protection or micromanagement or both. Friendly demeanors turn into business-like interactions. Distance creeps in, meetings are missed or cancelled, and the next interactions that follow are directives being handed down. To motivate the team there has to be “spiritual reasons,” logic, and precedent as well. The Devil gets mentioned. Pressure comes into your team or organization to rally and perform for projects and agendas your “leader” will get credit for in the larger organization. Other talented leaders in the team stop leading and innovating and start administrating. The message both directly and indirectly is that we don’t need leaders or vision anymore, we need managers. The whole tone changes—professionally, emotionally, and relationally. Hallway conversations increase. People turn over. People leave. Disillusionment and doubt set into the team.
My son is eighteen and headed to college.
In my humble (but accurate) opinion he is dating a diamond. His girlfriend is an amazing, strong, secure, faith-filled, and beautiful young woman. Major thumbs up on my side. But before we do a deeper dive into his private life let’s be clear: I am not a meddler in their connection. They have a great foundation in God, they openly discuss things I didn’t touch ‘til my thirties, and they are as realistic, hopeful, and cautious as any young adults can be about the future. They don’t need me at this point but they involve me in their relationship. I can’t imagine that ever happening with my dad back when I was dating Ryan’s mom in college. Different times, different father-son connection, and different family cultures are to blame for that. So, it’s working out for me. I am close to this evolving relationship trying to stay objective and properly attached. It’s a new consideration for me: what do I want for my son and this relationship at the ripe old age of eighteen?
WANTING THE RIGHT THINGS
Presently, I would put these desires for his relationship at the top of my list and into my prayers:
“I was lied to.”
These strong words and the attached feelings flowed forcefully from the tall, super intelligent and beautiful woman responding to my talk on third wave masculinity and femininity. I replied, “How so? What do you mean?”
“I bought into the whole feminist message of power femininity, power sexuality, and power economics for women. Then I met the man of my dreams who swept me off my feet. A good man. A strong man. A loving man. A ‘keeper.’ But I had spent so much time focusing on being strong, blaming men and being independent that I did not know how to partner, enjoy, and affirm him to build a strong marriage and family. I now am re-learning what feminism failed to tell me about men and marriage.” She had met a third wave man and is now joining millions of women on a similar journey that transcends the narrow elements and borders of feminism. She is becoming a third wave woman (i.e., a blend of traditional and progressive) that:
• Acknowledges the glaring shortcomings of both traditionalism that devalued the female voice and vision and feminism that overvalued the same as the end-all
• Recognizes that men have a vital role, real value, commendable strengths, and the ability to be great partners with women
• Appreciates and is not afraid to advocate for healthy male culture that benefits women, children, and justice in the world
• Stops blaming, labeling, accusing, and bundling the male gender into a group who cannot be morally driven, emotionally mature, and relationally disciplined
• Starts encouraging, partnering, respecting, honoring, and leveraging positive masculine strengths toward individual, marital, and family health
Third Wave Masculinity Is Coming and It’s Going to Rock Your World
I felt like an arsonist at a firefighters convention.
Two hundred women were seated in front of me. I did not know any of their stories. I did not know one of their names. I did not have any insight into their relationships with men. I could only assume that there was plenty of painful chapters connected to a man, some man, or multiples of men whose character or conduct has impacted them negatively. When you are a “men’s expert” and you are talking to women knowing this makes every discussion an uphill battle from the start. The topic? Gender wars, the failure of “traditional” masculinity, the lies of “reactive” femininity, and the emerging “Third Wave” of men and women blazing a new trail of respect, honor, partnership, family, and impact that will be changing the world. I am shaking inside. Never fails. But I know what’s coming and they don’t.
Fast forward two hours. It’s over. We (my audience and me) are victorious.
Inner Obsessions, Fantasies, and Thoughts Tell Our Real Stories
Our shock and surprise when a person we thought we knew gets caught doing something we thought they would never do is the first indicator we are prone to measure the wrong things. I have stopped counting the number of men perceived as leaders, role models, and mentors who get served up in the news cycle as sexually untrustworthy, deviant, undisciplined, or a mixture of all three. The curse of the public figure is that he has a swarm of media hyenas salivating over a good public image going morally and sexually south. Think Tiger. Think Weiner. Think Petraeus. Think Clinton. Think post humus Kennedy. All of them had a thought life racing around on the inside while their public personas, popularity, and the paparazzi swirled around their outsides. The dots outlining their “good-bad splits” were never connected and no one was asking them any questions about their inner life. Too much power and pedestal going on to do that. Too much private obsession of our own going on to feel justified in asking. Too many core aspects of a man’s life going unexamined and unchallenged.
The overwhelming evidence suggests that men are like icebergs, only presenting the tip of who we really are to our social networks while the substance of our true selves remains hidden below the waterline. The growing, multi-billion dollar, and ever expanding porn universe should be our first indicator that all is not well behind the public images and behaviors of men. For even the most religiously and spiritually motivated over 70 percent are more than sippers and dabblers of porn (Source: PK Study of men attending conferences). Over half of 5,000 pastors surveyed had consumed pornography within the last 3 months (Source: Pastors.com Study). The domino effect flowing out of the unseen, unexamined, inner obsessions of men eventually and inevitably tsunami their outer lives. The private fantasies will become public, the insides will be acted out on the outsides, and beliefs will always manifest in behaviors. The blast zone is far reaching. The inner obsessions and fantasies of men wind up incinerating marriages, confusing children prematurely, and contributing to overall masculine fatalism in women. When the good guys among us are slugging it out to be mentally clean and spiritually filled get lumped in with the bad guys.