What does it mean to be a man?

Image from Ron Swanson Says… check out their stuff.

I was inspired to write this after reading a little piece by Ben Howard on manhood titled “Ron Swanson is a Man“. I love the Ron Swanson character from Parks and Recreation.  I have for a long time been asking this question so I thought I’d answer: what does it mean to be a man?

Since I’m one year away from graduation and dating the girl of my dreams, it seems a good time to learn what it means to grow up. But there’s a lot more to manhood than that. In this post, I want to share my thoughts about both what it means to grow into manhood, and what responsibilities come with my sex.

Is a real man like Ron Swanson? Arnold Schwarzenegger? …Justin Bieber? I say none of the above. Let me explain…

Contrasting manhood with boyhood

Lesson 1 in being a man is “Grow up”!

“When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things.” – 1 Corinthians 13:11

Image courtesy of kwanie on Flickr, CC BY 2.0

Piggybacking off of Raising a Modern Day Knight, the four things that change from childhood to manhood are that a man:

  • rejects passivity (proactivity)
  • accepts responsibility
  • leads courageously (leadership)
  • expects the greater reward (investment)

These four principles – proactivity, responsibility, leadership, and investment – aren’t all that is good in a man, nor are they unique to men, but they distinguish man from boy. A child complains until he’s fed; a man goes out and makes a living (1 Timothy 4:8). A child tries to blame; a man recognizes that he can always improve (Proverbs 19:20). A child waits to be told right from wrong; a man leads others on the path. A child wants to be satisfied now; a man can delay gratification (Isaiah 40:31).

A real man waits for the right time, and when his time has come, he rises to the occasion.

Contrasting manhood with womanhood

Lesson 2 in being a man is “with great power comes great responsibility!”

“You husbands in the same way, live with your wives in an understanding way, as with someone weaker, since she is a woman; and show her honor as a fellow heir of the grace of life…” – 1 Peter 3:7

Image courtesy of April Killingsworth on Flickr, CC BY 2.0

Let’s face it: men and women are different. As obvious as this should be just in biological terms, our “enlightened” society doesn’t really seem to reflect this anymore. Don’t get me wrong; a lot of our cultural reaction to the male-female stereotyping of previous generations is warranted. That’s why it’s important to reason very carefully about gender roles from what we know to be different.

Men and women are of the same spirit and have the same inheritance of life (Galatians 3:28, Mark 12:251 Peter 3:7), but have different physical strength (1 Peter 3:7), different mental patterns (Women are better multitaskers; men are more focused), and different emotional structure. And of course, there are different roles when it comes to making babies. Naturally, the Bible recognized different social roles for men and women (Titus 2, 1 Timothy 2, 1 Corinthians 11, Ephesians 5).

Men are stronger, more focused, and more emotionally detached than women. This is just due to biology, and it just makes sense morally that the way God created you should effect who you are. A man who accepts the physicality given to him by God will:

  • Gird himself in strength – training physically, emotionally, and intellectually
  • Focus and lead others as he follows the Lord
  • Respond with even temper and be the first to take responsibility

People who don’t think women should work need to read about the ideal Proverbs 31 woman again (Prov 31:16,24). Sorry; side-track. I just think men in western culture often times define themselves and their manhood by their careers, and it’s not supposed to be that simple. Manhood is so much deeper than just: “I man. I work.” It’s about strength, focus, and leadership.

But hold your horses…

It’s more important to be a child of God than it is to be a man in America.

Hear that? Who inherits the kingdom of heaven? NOT MEN it turns out! Remember? “…unless you become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven…” (Matthew 18:3)

So don’t try to be a man like Ron Swanson; don’t even try to be a great man like William Wilberforce. Be the kind of man Jesus was.

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Relationships 1.0: an introduction

Yes! I’m in a relationship. And totally excited.

First date...

Since I’ve started dating the gorgeous and wonderful Toni Maisano (her photography website), I’ve started thinking a lot about love, marriage, sex, purity, courtship, and… yes… dating. The D word… for my homeschool friends. That why I want to start a blogging series about relationships.

There are a lot of different courtship ideas floating around the Christian community, especially among homeschoolers. I kissed dating goodbyepractical courtship, the “10 commandments”  or the “middle ground“… and the list goes on.

Honestly, I still don’t know what to make of this, though I have plenty of thoughts on how to have a purposeful relationship that puts God first. Any advice from wiser, experienced peoples? Just leave a comment below.

Blogging about it is as much about helping me as it is trying to share my experience with you. Maybe you could learn something from a messed up bloke like me. Look for more coming up…

Response to the Daily Texan’s response to racist cartoon

Have y’all heard about the racist cartoon published in the official campus newspaper for the University of Texas, The Daily Texan? Apparently, the Texan won a contest for the most racist Trayvon Martin cartoon. Read some more and see what you think:

So I really don’t want to get into the cartoon itself or the Trayvon Martin case, but I do want to discuss how the Texan Editorial Board is going to respond to this whole incident. Consider this a response to their response. Here’s a comment I posted on their blog:

The nature of the comic aside, I don’t know what to think about the “new” policy that will come out of this. Specifically, am troubled by:
“We will also seek out and publish opinions that truly represent the views of the entire campus community.”

How exactly do you plan to do that on such a diverse campus? Will you turn your opinion section into a list of cookie recipes?

Personally, I love how many different, weird, opinions we have on campus. (since I have plenty myself…) That’s why the Texan HAS an opinion section in the first place. I would hate to see minority viewpoints stifled because of this mistake.

The role of a paper should be to inform, not publish stuff that everyone already agrees with. (isn’t this a duh?) Yes; the cartoon was probably a bad editorial decision, but don’t overreact into something worse. No matter how much negative attention they get, the truth is that sometimes we need to be challenged by weird independent thinkers.

Keep the Texan weird!

Do you think the Editorial Board is going to overreact and stifle minority viewpoints on the subject? Or am I making a mountain out of a molehill?

Seven Tips for Not Sleeping During Class

Ever had a teacher that talks really softly and can’t get his mic to work? Maybe your professor uses a font designed by ants for his slides? I mean, big words and little letters. Perhaps he has a voice that sounds like it came from Oklahoma? Yeah, it’s flat. Ha! Me too. Somehow I stayed awake.

Photo credit: Natthawut Kulnirundorn for openphoto.net CC:Attribution-ShareAlike

Ok… Fine… most of the time I did. Here are some of my top tips for staying awake in the most boring of lectures:

Photo Credit: Rennett Stowe / CC BY 2.0

1. Move your pen

Don’t tap, just move. Working on your pencil twisting technique (as long as you don’t make noise) requires enough concentration to do the trick.

2. Count things

No… don’t start counting sheep. Keeping your eyes peeled for something real may help you say awake. How many times does he say “um” or “the” or “grade?” Or, better yet, practice the power (or the multiplication) tables on the back of your notes.

Image from stockvault.

3. Drink

Coffee doesn’t have the corner on the wake-up market. Water works just fine. A little liquid down the throat is great at keeping your body awake. (Just not alcohol. Seriously)

4. Nervous Dance

If you don’t have a nervous twitching problem, now may be the time to go get one. But seriously, twitching your neck, silently tapping your foot, or something else that will easily get dismissed as just a nervous habit will keep you awake just fine.

5. A clean face

For me, a bath makes me feel more relaxed and ready to doze off, but a cold water in the face or a drop on each eyelid is great at keeping you awake. As the water evaporates, the water takes your eyelids up too.

6. Stretch

No one will get on you for streaking your neck or other muscles. A little exercise in class can make the sleepy bugs go away, just don’t start doing push ups.

7. Exercise Before

Every day when I go to school, I have to walk to the bus. Most think that exercise tires you out, but neurological research shows that it produces a brain chemical known as dopamine that helps significantly in the learning process and keeps you awake. Some times, when I drive to school I have the hardest time keeping my eyes open because I didn’t get good exercise.

Something else?

There are definitely more than seven ways to stay awake. Got any more to add? Let me know.

[Vault] So, you're "not the leadership type?" WRONG.

There is no such thing as someone who just doesn’t have the leadership gene.

Photo Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/lumaxart/ / CC BY-SA 2.0

For there to be leaders, everyone else has to follow. That’s what society tells us. As a result, we’ve erected an artificial wall in our minds that says “you on that side are in charge; you on the other side, just listen.” More often than not, engineers are placed on the “others” side. Now that’s wrong.

There is no “leadership gene.” Anyone, especially engineers, can be a leader, start a business, influence others, and ultimately change the world. Different people may exercise different types of leadership, but leadership is inside of everyone.

The first step in bringing out this quality is simply a change in perspective. So, let’s start off by defining some important terms. There are three major steps for engaging in the market of ideas: listening, communicating, and leading. All of them are key, and somewhat misunderstood.

Listening.

The simple definition of listening is “understanding someone else’s ideas.”

I think Stephen Covey said it best in The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, “seek first to understand, then to be understood.” But no one will make a major difference in the world if they can’t help others understand, that is, of course, unless you plan to live forever. That’s why we need communication.

Communication.

Communication is helping others understand your ideas.

The myth here is that communication is about talking. It’s not. Communication is about understanding. Understanding is very important, but it’s not the whole deal. Understanding without action means nothing. That’s why leadership is so important.

Leadership.

That one word is important, yet so mystical. Most people only think they understand this word. In fact, I didn’t really until this past week. Then it hit me. I want to share this “revelation” with you.

Definition: Leadership is getting others to turn understanding into action.

This is why leadership is especially for engineers. It’s natural science that primarily focuses on understand. Don’t get me wrong, that’s also important. Leadership without understanding leads to disaster. Understanding without leadership is worth nothing. Engineers are being trained to make these ideas work in the real world. In a word, to lead.

One of the best ways I heard it put was when our own Dr. Yale Patt said that “Natural Science is about understanding what is. Engineering is about creating what has never been.” I thought it was very interesting to hear the same kind of sentiments echoed by political and media leader Henry Kissinger: “The task of the leader is to get his people from where they are to where they have not been.”

When Albert Einstein lobbied for the rights of his people during WW II, he is generally considered a leader. But most people don’t realize that when he published one of the greatest breakthroughs in science, he was also being a leader. Something as simple as relativity was leadership because he created a whole new science through his work. He turned his ideas into action in others.

Picture credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/dorfun / CC BY-SA 2.0

That’s why everyone is a leader in some respect. If you’re going to find the cheaper way to make a computer and bring that to the market, that’s leadership. If you’re going to find the cure for cancer, and save millions of lives, that’s leadership. If you’re maybe just going to design a bridge for construction workers to create or find an alternative to oil, it all means being a leader. If you want to be an entrepreneur and start up your own engineering firm, you are the leaders of tomorrow.

The reason you have to be a leader is because you can’t do it all yourself. If you want to make the world a better place, the question isn’t are you going to lead; the question is where. In what area will you take the lead and change the world?

What starts here changes the world

This is an article I wrote for my college’s engineering newsletter, Vector. It won “best non-themed article” and was featured in the October issue. It was based on an exhortation I had previously written for the Austin Rhetoric Club Officers. I hope this motivates you to grasp the cause God wants you to lead. (that’s why I say it’s “from the vault”)

Photo Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/brassman/ / CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

I should post something…

But I won’t… because I’m not feeling inspired.

“Learn to do good. Seek justice. Help the oppressed. Defend the cause of orphans. Fight for the rights of widows.”
~Isaiah 1:17 (NLT)

Sorry, that’s all I got… But the words of God are sufficient, no?

Merry Christmas!

I think this post is self explanitory. Need I say any more?

> Brian