Just last week I was challenged to think of what it meant to be courageous. The word courage evokes all kinds of emotion within a man. When you say the word courage my mind begins to be flooded with images of Braveheart (William Wallace), The Gladiator, David fighting Goliath, or John Wayne saddling up to take on the bad guys. There is a harsh reality that most men will never wield a sword and take on an enemy. We will never fight in an arena with only our will to live keeping us from sure death. We will never face a giant on the battlefield or even ride a horse for that matter.
Most of us are superheroes in our mind.
Most men, at some point in time in their life, dream up a thousand scenarios of the bad guy coming to hurt us or our family and we think of 27 ways were would disarm them and render them incapacitated. With each news story about a mass shooting we play through our mind how we would have stopped it if we were there. We think of ourselves as a combination of Jack Bauer with more of an Arnold (late 80’s Arnold) look. We are the heroes of the day. Then our daydream ends and we are back in our offices with our belly hanging over our belts or riding our zero point turn lawn mowers. Reality hits that we have never been nor will most of us ever be the heroes in our minds.
Real courage is different than what we make up in our minds.
God made men with a desire to be courageous. Men seem to be hard wired to want to kill something and drag it home. From early on in the womb testosterone would singe the connections between the hemispheres of our brains. This would allow us the gift and sometimes curse of being able to process a situation and take emotion out of the equation. How can we use this desire within us to be courageous in the American suburban context? What does courage look like for an American male today?
Courage is doing what is right even when it is not easy. John Wayne would say, “Courage is being scared to death and saddling up anyway.”
Courage is showing up.
It seems the most glaring absence in American culture today is the father. In some neighborhoods you would have more luck searching for Elvis then you would finding a father who is fulfilling his duty. Men have become little more than sperm donors. One of the most courageous acts of a man is simply taking responsibility for himself and for his family and not leaving because life gets difficult. So many young men have grown up in the video game culture and when things become difficult they can just start over. When a child is conceived you are not allowed a “do over.” A courageous man leans in, not out when life becomes more difficult. One word that best describes a man is the word responsible. Men do not run from responsibility, they run to it. Courage means each day your get up and show up to work and do your best. Courage means you go to your children’s recitals and ball games. Courage means you get up and get ready for church each Sunday, even during hunting season. Courage means you work hard and bring home a paycheck no matter how small it may be. Our families become infinitely stronger when they know that daddy is not going anywhere.
Courage is unloading the dishwasher.
The man of yesteryear would go to work and come home to “June Clever” who would have dinner ready for him. Dad would relax after his hard day at work. June died! She is gone! In most homes women work just has hard as their husbands. When a man gets off work he clocks in at home. It is not time for him to prop his feet up, it is time for him to serve his family. There is no work at home that is beneath the leader of the home. It takes a courageous man to change diapers, fix dinner, help the kids with their homework, unload the dishwasher, pay bills, fold clothes, and have a good attitude while doing it.
Courage is leading your family in fractured world.
Children need their father to be their rock. A father that leads the way God intended provides a safety to the home. He teaches his children what is right and what is wrong. He models service in the home. He points his children each night to the light of the world. He tells his children about Jesus. He models his faith in his interactions with his neighbors and with those who do not like him. A courageous man speaks words of encouragement to his wife each day, he listens to her, he lets her cry on his shoulder, and he makes sure he holds her hand often.
You may never lead an army into battle like William Wallace but when you live each day with the courage to be the man God has called you to be you will be the hero of your home!
Maybe if William Wallace were alive today he would proudly drive a minivan with stickers of his children on the back.