My wife asked me a profound question last night "Why don't more men lead their families?" She explained that in both Christian and Non-Christian women's groups and socials she attends, a large number of women complain of their husbands not taking charge and leading the family. First, I tried to blame the women's movements for using the media and pop culture in an effort to emasculate men and their roles. Here's one woman's opinion on the topic:
"While the Feminist Movement did bring forth great changes for us in the areas of voting, rights to property, rights to higher education, the perception of equality and we're still working on equal pay and the equal positions of power, one of the unintended consequences was the emasculation of men.
Men aren’t really appreciated for being men anymore. Women seem to want just a male version of themselves. Men don’t seem to have that problem. Where men see women as The Great Unsolved Mystery, women see men as In Need of Housebreaking. If we can just train them to please us then all will be well. And for the most part, men seem to go along with this."
On top of this, a study done by the Media Awareness Network shows that the two predominantly portrayed male figures on television are:
The Alpha Male - Strong Silent Type - portrayed as being in charge, acting decisively, containing emotion, and succeeding with women. This is almost always portrayed as a single man for the erotic/drama/eye candy of the other female characters. (Sex and the City, Desperate Housewives, etc.)
The Buffoon - commonly appears as a bungling father figure in TV ads and sitcoms. Usually well-intentioned and light-hearted, these characters range from slightly inept to completely hopeless when it comes to parenting their children or dealing with domestic (or workplace) issues.
While I do believe these issues exist, placing blame on the feminist movement or the media is really just a cop-out. Besides, the positives of the feminist movement definitely outweigh the negatives.
Simply knowing this is fact means that we as men have to compliment and respect today's modern woman but also embody these same traits if we expect women to allow us to lead.
Since the creation of man and up until the past 20 years, Men have been the leaders in the family.
Many men today are quick to grab the remote for football, fire up the grill for BBQ or change the oil on the car but slow to get up early on Sunday to take the kids to church if Mom is gone. Slow to take their daughter to dance or gymnastics class and then sit for an hour (not playing on your iphone) and really engaging her practice.
I think the real issue is what the female writer stated earlier: "And for the most part, men seem to go along with this."
We have droves of men who are stuck in the comfort zone. Good job, stable, secure, don't rock the boat mentality. Blissful in mediocrity.
I finally told my wife I think it is sheer laziness. It's easy to stay in the comfort zone and just get by. It's easy to measure ourselves against the middle/mediocre men instead of measuring ourselves against great men.
We idolize the great men - movies like Gladiator, Braveheart, and 300 top the lists as men's favorites but how many of us strive to be Maximus or Leonidas everyday in our homes and work? When the hordes are slain and the heroes come home, the battle does not end.
A colleague of mine said at lunch this week that everything seems to just fall into my lap - promotions, marriage, family. I tactfully did not reply that it was because I am constantly working to stay OUT of the comfort zone and the amount of stress it requires to constantly do this.
Being a Legacy Dad means constantly working on getting out of the comfort zone - out of mediocrity. Even though there are a million books and Men's Conferences out there that aim to fire us up and tell us everything I am preaching, you have to live this standard 24/7 - 365. It's not easy and frankly most men will not do it. Not that they can't but that they chose not to. It's easier to be lazy, it's easier to be mediocre, it's easier to relegate our leadership roles to our wives. We've chosen to be Lukewarm Men over Champion Men.
"I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth. You say, 'I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.' But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked" (Revelation 3:15-17 NIV translation)
We look around and say "I go to church on Sundays, go to my kid's games, and take my wife out on her birthday. I've got a good job, I'm paying the house off, the 401k is growing, I even give to charities. I am doing way better than (insert your down and out friend, brother in law, colleague, etc.)"
I challenge you to do this. Find the guy or guys you admire most. The guy who is on fire with faith, walking with God, loving and being faithful to his wife, mentoring and enriching his children, and being a trusted friend and colleague. The guy everyone wants to be around. Start comparing yourself to this guy. Heck, ask this guy if he will mentor you.
If you are this guy, go find others like you and start an accountability group and also start mentoring other men. Anything less is laziness and a cop-out.
We are called and commanded by God to get out of the comfort zone and to live our lives as champions for him and our families.