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Note to Men: It’s About Being Intentional

I’m not sure why I wanted to write about this topic now. Because in reality, I have been thinking about it for a long time.

Maybe it’s because I work with a lot of men. And maybe because a lot of the men I work with (both in counseling and in ministry) struggle between two opposites. They often wrestle with being passive or being aggressive (angry).

It’s hard to not notice that there has been lots of talk about passive men over the last two decades. I’m not sure where it all began. But in the early 90′s up till now there have been movements and cultural icons of what being a man is about.

Perhaps the more recent images of manliness began with the Promise Keepers’ Movement and Robert Bly’s book, Iron John: A Book about Men –both appearing in 1990.

It really seemed to pick up steam in 2001 with the publication of Wild at Heart.

One thing I do know for sure, lots of men were left with the idea that they needed to head out into the wilderness, brandish their swords, and go to battle. Anything but living out the image of Braveheart (1996) or Gladiator (2000) resulted in not being a man.

I’m obviously overstating the case, but if you attended any Christian conferences, retreats, speaking engagements in the 1990′s and 2000′s it was hard to avoid references to both of those iconic images of men portrayed in those movies. I probably made some of the references myself.

It often felt like pastors, writers, bloggers, and just about everyone else piled on the topic, encouraging men to be more, well, more like men.

And honestly, there is lots of analysis, and lots of direction I could go, but I want to keep it simple.

I have found that being a man is about being intentional (characterized by conscious design or purpose). Too many think that the opposite of being a “passive” or “nice” guy means becoming aggressive or angry.

It’s not. It’s about living a life with intention.

Being intentional in your marriage.

Being intentional with your kids.

Being intentional in your vocation.

Being intentional with your friendships.

Being intentional about your faith.

Men who are intentional seem to be men in other people’s eyes. In the eyes of their wives, kids, friends, c0-workers, etc.

By the way. I have been to two Promise Keepers. I have read Wild at Heart. I love both Braveheart and Gladiator. And they have all been super influential and helpful in my life. But thankfully I don’t have to brandish a sword to be a man, but instead can be a man by living a life of intentionality.

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rhettsmith@churchleaders.com'
I'm a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist Associate (MDiv, MSMFT, LMFT-A) and pastor to youth and families. I write about the relationships between psychology, theology and technology.