Die Like A Man:
Overcoming Male Weakness & Fear
Until a boy becomes a real man of spiritual maturity, emotional wholeness, broad intelligence, behavioral temperance, and visceral social confidence, his single greatest fear is not feeling like a man. And so begins the obnoxious storyline of a manchild doing symbolic things to feel like a man: petty anger, fighting, building muscle, shooting guns, bullying weaker males, womanizing, talking tough, acting tough, driving a truck, yada yada yada. While these behaviors induce a temporary man-high, they are not authentic transformers. After the brain chemicals subside and the emotions renormalize, there he still is: a boy. A weak and afraid boy.
I encourage you to forward this to the males in your life, even the younger ones. You may not have the vocabulary or the relational positioning to say what I am about to say, so feel free to nonchalantly forward this and deflect the blame onto me. Hehe.
Die Like A Man
A boy (manboy) cannot act himself into a man. His innermost personality must be made into manhood by an outside force. That outside force is another man who is at a high level of undiluted masculinity, or at the very least, a man who is ahead of him on the masculine journey. This is why the Creator established fathers, ideally, to impart the masculine nature to his son, to create a healthy, intentional pathway for his son to gradually transform into a mature man. When this pathway is not created or misshapen or perverted, boys will stay boys and grow up to be manboys: spiritually immature, emotionally clueless, intelligence limited, behaviorally undisciplined, and despite the man-sass and swagger, paralytically insecure.
Once a male becomes born-again, however, God initiates a refathering process. Before the new creation can fully actualize, though, a demolition of old personality structures has to happen. The dwarfed masculine must die to his mini-masculinity, to any and all ideas of manhood that are not Jesus (2Co 10:5). The Lord is speaking to many born-again men:
"Die like a man."
Die to Spiritual Childishness
In the spiritual dimension, masculine dwarfism plays out as the fear of standing up and leading. Often it is the women who must speak up, plan, organize, and lead, while countless numbers of men sit quietly and fearfully like shy little boys hiding behind mama's leg. Is it the fear of ridicule? The fear of responsibility? The fear of staring eyes? The fear of failure? The fear of disappointing others? Are you like Saul, hiding at the stand up and lead moment?
1Samuel 10:21,22 (NIV): ...Finally Saul son of Kish was taken. But when they looked for him, he was not to be found. So they inquired further of the LORD, "Has the man come here yet?" And the LORD said, "Yes, he has hidden himself among the supplies."
Mature Into a Realistic Leader with Guts of Steel
A mature man has made peace with the fact that he will be occasionally rejected or outright ridiculed. Get over it. Stop being a baby who needs to be liked. A man wants responsibility, because with it comes the power to create and shape (versus someone else creating and shaping your life). A man realizes he will occasionally fail, but will use those failures as a strategic elimination process, thus narrowing and clarifying the pathway to better results. A man realizes he will occasionally disappoint others, and will even do so deliberately when necessary and healthy. Again, stop being a baby who needs to be liked. Stop hiding behind strong women. Die to group anxiety and stage fright. Pray for and develop guts of steel. Memorize verses on guts of steel. Talk it. Practice it. Have others pray for it for you. Confess where you have been shy and consistently hesitant as a leader. Study how steel is made.
There are two haunting scriptures that reveal (1) toxic femininity and (2) weak and childish masculinity: 1Kings 18:19 and Revelation 2:20-23. In both instances we see insecure manboys riding the skirt of a domineering shemale. Elijah was the real man who stood up to the first Jezebel, and in the second instance, Jesus is asking and wondering, "Are there any real men in this church who are not 'Jezebel's children'?"
Die to Emotional Cluelessness
It would be unfair to say women are emotionally intelligent (just because they are women) and men are emotionally clueless (just because they are men). I have known women with the emotional know-how of a neanderthal and men who are virtuosos of the heart. I do think, however, in general, in the West, women are socialized to be community-oriented and relational while men are socialized to be goal-oriented and successful. This results in men who are good at working and earning income and fixing things, but emotionally way behind. This emotional juvenility really comes out in marriage; the husband has few words or angry words or fix-it words, but few or no intimate words, conscientious words, vulnerable words.
Mature Into a Heart Whisperer
How does a male, or anyone for that matter, learn the art of the heart? Here are some starting cornerstones. Certainly much more can be built upon these.
Express yourself intimately. Learn to be soft and warm in your one-on-one aura. Learn how to provoke deep feeling with your words and actions. If you feel dumb or unmanly doing that, just realize you are actually being dumb and unmanly by not doing that.
Express yourself conscientiously. Conscientious means "characterized by extreme care and great effort" (OneLook Dictionary). An emotionally clueless person does not pray-think through how to say things. They just blurt the first thing that flashes in them like a brainless computer program. A musician of the heart is slow to speak and constantly pray-thinks for the most fitting words, like picking the right song for the occasion.
Express yourself vulnerably. Males are human beings, not robots or machines or Vulcans. This means, to be emotionally functional, we occasionally will have to express vulnerable areas honestly. You do not have to be a walking sob story or sappy all the time, but when the moment truly calls for it, be humble, vulnerable, honest, human. Women make fun of us (and pull their hair out) because they see those very vulnerabilities we deny and suppress. The joke's on you bro. Own it humbly and watch your relationships and mental health improve.
Listen with your total being. Heart whisperers do not listen simply to respond, or listen as one task in a multitask (multitasking is a disproven myth), they listen with their total being and no distractions. They enter the reality of the one talking, create an experiential convergence, and pray-think how to respond from there. Most men I know cannot listen for more than three to six minutes, which, according to research, is the attention span of toddlers.
You can find plenty of verses yourself about expressing yourself intimately, conscientiously, vulnerably, and becoming a total being listener. I want to focus instead on Jesus' emotional artistry as proven by His close relationships with women. His true best friend, and who He first appeared to after rising from the dead, was a female ex-prostitute, Mary Magdalene. He was surrounded and followed by a handful of women who wanted to support Him financially (Lk 8:1-3). He connected profoundly with the woman at the well, and many others I am certain that are not recorded (Jn 21:25). In a time when females were considered property and inferior creatures, Jesus' ability to connect richly with numerous women, and inspire their desire to stay close to Him physically and fund Him financially, shows us His dexterity in connecting with the heart of a person.
Die to Intellectual Stupidity
The word stupid is used roughly fifteen times in the Old Testament. The Hebrew word is ba'ar and its verb form ba'ar (pronounced differently). Imagine how many times synonyms for stupid are used in Scripture: foolish, simple, lacks understanding, without knowledge, senseless, brutish, etc. God's Word does not pamper a person who will not store up meaningful knowledge and pray-think critically. The indictment is even worse for a male, who Scripture commands to demonstrate leadership in the home and in the church. How do you make great decisions for yourself and your loved ones without knowledge, understanding, and wisdom? God's Word is not nice or sympathetic to those who willfully stay stupid.
Mature Into Broad Intelligence
Dying to poop-for-brains and growing into knowledge, understanding, and wisdom is not as easy as reading more books (though that is crucial). Many people remain unsmart because deep down they are clinging to traditions, conspiracies, and life philosophies that block out information that might challenge those traditions, conspiracies, and life philosophies. To them, it is not about learning, it is about protecting a deeper worldview that they cling to to feel okay and safe. If this is you, you need to get honest with God about what your true security is and repent of that idolatry. You will never love God with all your mind, as you are commanded to do in the Greatest Commandment, if you have fortresses around your intellect in the form of traditions, conspiracies, and deficient life philosophies. You will have to die to them where they are factually wrong, unhealthy, or unBiblical. Die to that safe stupidity. Then you will have to consistently dig into the knowledge, understanding, and wisdom you have been knowingly and unknowingly blocking out.
Scriptures (all underlines mine)
1Samuel 25:25 (NASB): ...this worthless man, Nabal, for as his name is, so is he. Nabal is his name, and stupidity is with him...
Psalm 94:8 (NASB): Pay attention, you stupid ones among the people; and when will you understand, foolish ones?
Proverbs 12:1 (NKJV): Whoever loves instruction loves knowledge, but he who hates correction is stupid.
Jeremiah 4:22 (ESV): "For my people are foolish; they know me not; they are stupid children; they have no understanding. They are 'wise'—in doing evil! But how to do good they know not."
Die to Behavioral Intemperance
A grown man with undisciplined behaviors is the result of a boy who was never parented in temperance, in how to cooperate patiently with No, Slow, and Not Now, in timing, boundaries, and consequences. Parents, hear me well: children without consistent timing, boundaries, and consequences turn into adults with uncontrollable behaviors. Sure, it is much easier to give in to a child screaming bloody terror with disturbingly dramatic sound effects simply because they cannot have a peppermint. Sure, it is easier to give in to stop the madness. Do not do it! Every time a mortifyingly shrill cry tantrum gets them what they want, a model of reality is forming inside them to always get what they want. At best, you are helping create an impulsive-compulsive adult, at worst, you are helping create a sociopath.
Mature Into Behavioral Temperance
Maturing into the fruit of temperance or self-control (Gal 5:23) is cultivated like any other fruit. You'll need to stay in good soil--close relationships with those who are ahead of you in this particular fruit. You'll need the right weather--providential circumstances God is using to help you (or force you) to grow in self-control. You'll need a well-watered root system--daily time in the river system of God's presence and Word. You can transform the intemperate personality structure in you. It begins with your zealous determination to die to it, and from the carcass of the old manboy, rise and grow into newness of life by cultivating this beautiful and underappreciated fruit.
Proverbs 5:22,23 (NIV): ...the cords of their sins hold them fast. For lack of discipline they will die...
Galatians 5:22,23 (YLT): And the fruit of the Spirit is...temperance...
2Peter 1:6 (KJV): ...to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness...
Acts 24:24 (NASB): But as he was discussing righteousness, self-control, and the judgment to come, Felix became frightened...
Die to Social Anxiety
We have many technical names for it: glossophobia, demophobia, enochlophobia, ochlophobia, agoraphobia, scoptophobia, social anxiety disorder, and on and on. God's Word, however, has only one name for it: the fear of people (traditionally worded, the fear of man). Many people, male and female, born-again and not born-again, are noticeably crippled by various forms of social hypersensitivity and stress. No matter what he might say, a man is not a mature man, nor is he a full man, if he is not stress-free deep down in a variety of social constructs (especially ones that would be stressful for most people). It means he is genuinely free from the fear of people, genuinely free from numerous factors that underpin and fuel social anxiety. It is not about being extroverted or introverted, sanguine or reserved, a D or I versus an S or C. In the Biblical worldview, it is about being multidimensionally free, like Jesus.
The Rotten Roots of Social Anxiety, Mature Into Social Graces, Scriptures
Social anxiety is a fruit, a symptom. That is why so many people fail to break its power over them. Snip fruit and it will return. Pull up the entire plant structure by the roots and all of it dies. To use Jesus' illustration, you have to curse (kill, destroy, eliminate) the fig tree at the roots for it to never bear fruit again. Here are three common rotten roots of adult social stress.
Mollycoddling parents who did not position and coach you to engage the world around you, especially situations unfamiliar or challenging. This creates a powerful precedent (inner foundation) of hesitation, even paralyzing stress, in social situations. Children must be coached to attack the world around them calmly and confidently, a Genesis 1:28 social model. If your childhood experience was mollycoddling, realize your heavenly Father will do what your parents did not: put you in unfamiliar or challenging situations to mature you socially.
Public humiliation, failure. If, when we experience public humiliation, we do not properly process, heal, and learn from that humiliation with God, the virus will stay inside us and keep reinfecting us with social anxiety of another humiliation. If, when we experience failure, we do not properly process and learn from that failure with God, the virus will stay inside us and keep reinfecting us with social anxiety of another failure. Revisit, process, heal, and learn from past embarrassments and failures that are still infecting your system with social fears. Read Isaiah 1:5,6. How can you be still, suave, and skilled in public with "open sores, not cleansed or bandaged or soothed" (v6 NIV)?
You were bullied by a family member or someone in your environment. A bullying dad, mom, sibling, friend, schoolmate, teammate--whoever--can also create an inner precedent in us that our soul seeks to avoid a repeat of at all costs. Though not everyone is a bully, the unhealed soul in public feels like everyone is. The experience with the one gets projected onto the many. Hence, social anxiety. After processing the pain and healing fully with God, new social attributes still must be learned. The solution is not to fear people and mollycoddle yourself, but to learn how to socialize calmly, confidently, joyfully, with boundaries, with a third eye.
Die Like A Man
I close with a few lines from one of my favorite man songs, St. Elmo's Fire. A true man song indeed. You can substitute "the Spirit's fire" for "St. Elmo's Fire" (a weather phenomenon and great metaphor). Best line, prophetic: You broke the boy in me, but you won't break the man.
Growin' up, you don't see the writing on the wall
Passin' by, movin' straight ahead, you knew it all
But maybe sometime if you feel the pain
You'll find you're all alone, everything has changed
...Soldier on, only you can do what must be done
You know in some way you're a lot like me
You're just a prisoner and you're tryin' to break free
I can see a new horizon underneath the blazin' sky
I'll be where the eagle's flying higher and higher
Gonna be your man in motion, all I need's this pair of wheels
Take me where my future's lyin', St. Elmo's fire
Burning up, don't know just how far that I can go
Soon be home, only just a few miles down the road
I can make it, I know, I can
You broke the boy in me but you won't break the man
I can climb the highest mountain, cross the wildest sea
I can feel St. Elmo's fire burnin' in me, burnin' in me
Just once in his life a man has his time
And my time is now, I'm coming alive