WHAT KINDA MAN YOU GONNA TURN OUT TO BE?
There are good men, and I want the ladies to know that. There are good men who fail, but they’re still good men. I want the ladies to know that too. Then there are men who should be better than they are, who seem full of potential and never seem to reach it or live up to anyone’s expectations, including their own. These men seem to constantly disappoint. Then there are “worthless fellows,” and these are bad men. They hurt other people, and they enjoy it and encourage their friends in the pursuit of doing stupid things. Then of course, there are just evil men; they wreak of evil, and violence, and crime. I would like the ladies to know the difference in all these types of men, and I would like the men to know themselves.
What is important to realize is that each of these groups of men have varying degrees of intelligence. They are not necessarily what they are because they are smart or stupid. Men are not simply what they are because they are educated, or not. Men are not what they are because they have wealth, or poverty. In theology we speak of a couple of things that seem almost to be in contradiction. We speak of depravity and all men possess this, yet, all men are image bearers of God. All men come from some genetic background, some family background (whether stable, nuclear, broken, or destroyed) and it affects them, but not all in the same way. How can men be both depraved and beautiful, gifted, yet without making any meaningful contribution? This is the frustration of real life on a fallen planet.
We need good men, and I’m not speaking for the Marines but for the world. It is said, “clothes make the man” and of course they do not, but they do present a package. Some men look for a package that sells, to themselves and to those they wish to impress. There are men who develop a style of behaving, this too is packaging. Put a depraved evil man in a uniform, make him a professional, and he is still a depraved evil man. Here I speak not for the common depravity which cripples humans from knowing God, but that which defines character. Many people are deceived by packaging, even those in the package. If all you have is the clothes, and the style, but no substance well then the emperor truly has no clothes; if you follow my logical thread.
One of the ironies of life is the story of grace and redemption. It is ironic that a wicked man, full of evil, can be converted, transformed, and become a good man for the rest of his life. Some don’t believe this is possible but Christians live in the story and expectation of it all the time. This has happened far too often in history for it to an unrealistic hope. Truly horrible deeply flawed men have been “saved” and become great men, fathers, husbands, brothers, heroes, and dependable. All men are inconsistent, but better to fail at being a failure and turn one’s life around in a positive direction than otherwise.
In elementary school they used to give out a report card and one of the evaluations was “fails to live up to his/her potential.” Satisfactory, Unsatisfactory, Non-satisfactory. I remember being mad that my teacher failed to live up to my expectations by giving me a U one marking period in this category. I wasn’t sure what it meant but I knew it was negative. I think I was eventually pleased to realize she thought I had potential. How frustrating it must be for parents, women seeking decent husbands, children wishing they had a real and present father to have respectively a son, potential marriage partner, or progenitor who never quite makes the grade. Some men will live their lives always to disappoint.
We need good men, and I do speak for the parents, for the women, and for the children. Starting from wherever they are, they need to up their game. We need men who will stop pretending just to get the sex, the emotional support, the job, or ego stroking. We need men who will stop living their lives to get over, or to be just enough and nothing more. We don’t necessarily call on men to be brilliant, talented, wealthy, good looking, well educated, and well dressed (though no one would complain about great icing on the cake). We do call on men to be good, and to be great at it. To have the character and fortitude to stand up for what is right and good, to not abandon a family, to not abuse or harm the weak. We live in a world that confuses the packaging for what is in the box, the icing for what is in the cake, and surface for substance.
We don’t get movies, television shows, or too much coverage of a man who (though not perfect), worked hard, plodded along, stood his ground not for ego or pride, picked himself back up when he fell, loved his wife, family, and friends, cared for the helpless and weak, and delivered himself a man when a man was needed. Sometimes we think evil men should just be killed off, maybe sometimes they must, but we hope for those radical conversions yet. Sometimes we wish those men not living up to their potential would get a firm kick up the backside, because these are the men who frustrate us all.
We also need women who will forgive, who will give us the break they want and need for themselves, who will have the sense to discern between momentary disappointments and a total disappointment. It is manifestly true that in a world of corruption we need character, and we need grace to not only realize God’s love for all of us with imperfect character, but grace to empower us to grow in godly character. We, all of us, need good men.