Last week, I moved. I am sincerely grateful that small portion of my life is over. I am convinced that Hell physically manifests itself in the form of boxes, trucks, furniture, narrow doorways and stairs. And it’s hot.
One day last week, in order to take a break from moving, I took my car to get the oil changed. I know, I am writing a post about declining manhood and I don’t even change my own oil. Pathetic, I know. But give me a minute here. I took my car to get the oil changed, and I noticed something really interesting. As I watched three different couples deal with mechanics, explain car problems, fill out papers, and pay there was a consistent pattern of movement displayed by each of the three couples I saw. The men stood slightly behind the women and spoke only when spoken to.
It was fascinating to watch once I picked up on this pattern. Women would approach the counter first. Women would talk with the mechanic. Women would lead the way to the waiting area. Women would step up to pay. Men followed behind like children, waiting for mom to make the next decision.
Now, let me throw out a few qualifiers to explain my reason for surprise and the noteworthiness of this pattern.
- Car stuff is not man stuff. I do not think women to be unfit or incapable of handling car issues. I do not consider it unmanly to be unfamiliar with cars. That is not the source of my surprise.
- Standing behind is not a sign of weakness, lower status, or lessened capability. There are many areas in our life where my wife takes the lead for me, and I stay out of the way. I do not find that to be a mark against me as a man.
- There is nothing wrong with strong willed, independent women that can take care of business. On the contrary, I think an industrious, capable spirit is one of the most attractive qualities a woman can display. Solomon thought so as well, seeing that Proverbs 31 devotes more time to the hard work of a woman than any other attribute.
Those qualifiers out of the way, the pattern of movement displayed by the people in my local garage displayed something attested to in study after of study of the modern man: men are disengaged.
Please understand the limit to what I am saying: I do not define masculinity and femininity by particular tasks or tastes. Masculinity and femininity are best defined by attitudes and dispositions of the heart. This post is not about defining masculinity, but I will happily point you towards a few that are: here, here, and here.
So finally, after dancing with the lions of outraged feminism, the problem I want to address is one of creating some proactive momentum. When I started cleaning out my home office for the move last week, I sat in my chair and surveyed the state of my stuff for about 30 minutes before I moved a muscle. Why? Because I had no clue where to begin making sense of my own mess. I want to provide some insight for men who similarly look at their own passivity and have no idea where to start making changes.
- Admit you have a problem, and then admit the problem is bigger than you just admitted. Tell you roommate. Tell your spouse. Tell your parents. Tell someone in your life that you want to make a change. The reason is simple; you have likely grown numb to letting yourself down, so bring someone else’s expectations into the equation to provide some accountability.
- Give yourself some goals. Make goals according to two criteria: Small and SMART. Make your goals small, because the goal here is to create some proactive momentum, not conquer the world. Also, make sure they are SMART goals. Specific. Measurable. Achievable. Relevant. Time-sensitive. Read this – and start making plans!
- If you are married and struggle with passivity, then you need to follow John Piper’s advice and bring two little words into your vocabulary that will revolutionize your relationship: “Let us”. Train yourself to be the first one in the house to say “Let’s” you will have become the de facto initiator and leader of your household. Be the one thinking ahead for your household’s needs, and be the one who addresses them first. “Honey, let’s…” Those two little words can change everything.
So, if you struggle with passivity, try making those 3 little changes in your daily life. Most importantly though, recognize that unhealthy passivity is a result of brokenness in your heart. You can try to change your actions, but the most important factor in lasting change comes when you allow God to change your heart. Phenom rapper, Lecrae, has an excellent message and testimony about how God challenges and changes your understanding of manhood. Well worth your 42 minutes.