What Qualities of Manliness Stand the Test of Time?

What Qualities of Manliness - 1Cosmopolitan Magazine began its publishing life as a quality family oriented magazine. Unfortunately it has evolved into a “Grocery Store Checkout” magazine that is chock full of what celebrity is being physically altered and what is their favorite food or sexual activity. None of which I am particularly interested in.

However, in August of 1902, a man by the name of Rafford Pyke wrote an article entitled, “What Men Like in Men.” In 1902 you could title an article that way and no one would laugh or even consider the double entendre that it would surely produce if it appeared today. Especially in a magazine like Cosmopolitan has evolved into. Don’t Google Rafford Pyke unless you are looking for the depressing story of his life, the realization that he himself did not act in an honorable manner, and the discovery that Pyke was not even his real name.

Consider what Pyke says: “If you were to ask the average man to tell you offhand just what qualities he likes in other men, he would probably boggle a good deal over his answer. His first impulse would be to say, “Oh, I don’t know!” which is with men a convenient formula for avoiding thought upon unexpected or (to them) uninteresting topics. A little later, after turning the matter over in his mind, he would give you a catalogue of qualities to which he would be willing to swear. His list, however, would bear a strong resemblance to the “hundred-best-book” lists made my persons who sincerely believe that they are expressing their own literary preferences, but who are actually indulging in a bit of intellectual pose. Just as these individuals mention the books which they feel they ought to enjoy reading rather than those which they really read, so the average man will name a number of qualities which he thinks he likes, rather than those which in his heart of hearts he actually does like.”

What Qualities of Manliness - 2It was much easier for Pyke to determine what men disliked in other men. And the character or quality that they disliked was that of being or acting like Continue reading “What Qualities of Manliness Stand the Test of Time?”

Real Men Don’t Eat Quiche

Real Men Don't Eat Quiche - 1Real Men Don’t Eat Quiche was a a bestselling tongue-in-cheek book satirizing stereotypes of masculinity very popular that was published the year that my wife and I got married. I confess that I wasn’t much of a reader at that time. So, my only real exposure to the book was from pop culture and from listening to what commentators and other pundits had to say about that book.

The book was an attempt to refer to or suggest that a man who is a dilettante, a trend-chaser, an over-anxious conformist to fashionable forms of “lifestyle”, and socially correct behaviors and opinions, one who lacks the traditional masculine virtue of tough self-assurance is therefore NOT a real man. The book’s humor derives its’ message from the fears and confusion of contemporary 1980s middle-class men about how they ought to behave, after a decade of various forms of feminist critique on traditional male roles and beliefs. The book was on the New York Times Best Seller list for 55 weeks, and sold over 1.6 million copies at the time.

Real Men Don't Eat Quiche - 2It is a shame that that book had to be written. It never would have been written had there not been a glaring blemish on traditional manhood and manly behavior. Recently we have seen a spate of more books that are an “encouragement” to men to return to some man’s view of what a man really is.

I will not take this opportunity to debate the merits of either book. But I will offer this thought as some additional fodder for consideration. Continue reading “Real Men Don’t Eat Quiche”

Manhood is a struggle

Benjamin Disraeli

Such are the words of Benjamin Disraeli.  His actual and full quote is as follows:

“Youth is a blunder; Manhood a struggle, Old age a regret.”

For those who are unfamiliar, Benjamin Disraeli was one of the Prime Ministers of Great Britain.  Actually, he served as PM twice in his long career in British Parliament and politics.  He was a key figure in creating what became the modern Conservative Party.  There is much debate on his overall role in the pantheon of conservative thought.  But, he was quite the literary figure as well.

The quote above is from a political novel, Coningsby.  This novel set in the 1830s the life and career of Henry Coningsby, an orphan grandson of a wealthy marquess, Lord Monmouth. Lord Monmouth initially disapproved of Coningsby’s parents’ marriage, but on their death he relents, decides to provide for the boy and sends young Coningsby to be educated at Eton College. At Eton Coningsby meets and befriends Oswald Millbank, the son of a rich cotton manufacturer who is a bitter enemy of Lord Monmouth. The two older men represent old and new wealth in society.

As Coningsby grows up he begins to develop his own liberal political views and he falls in love with Oswald’s sister Edith. When Lord Monmouth discovers these developments he is furious and secretly disinherits his grandson. On his death, Coningsby is left penniless, and is forced to work for his living. He decides to study law and to become a barrister. This proof of his character impresses Edith’s father (who had previously also been hostile) and he consents to their marriage at last. By the end of the novel Coningsby is elected to Parliament for his new father-in-law’s constituency and his fortune is restored.

If you decide to dive into this book, you will find the quote above.  Don’t bother.

Here is my point for Manday today.

I acknowledge that my youth has been full of blunders.  There have been too many to recount here.  And I will admit that manhood has at times proven to be a struggle.  But, I refuse to reach old age and have regrets.  I refuse to live life without giving it my all in my struggle to be the man that God called me to be, the husband that my wife needs me to be, the father that my children need me to be and the “Papa” that my grandchildren need me to be.

What about you today?  Are you struggling a little?  Then join the crowd.  But join with us and fight the good fight and let’s overcome together!


Photo credit: Political Graveyard / Foter / CC BY
Photo credit: Gwynhafyr / Foter / CC BY-NC

Memorial Day Heroes

Memorial Day - 2013Not all of our heroes have died in battle.

Please don’t take that the wrong way.  I truly mean no disrespect.  But a thought came to me as we stopped by Veteran’s Memorial Cemetery late yesterday afternoon.  The thought was that heroes come in many forms.  Consider if you would, the man that came home from the war and made a life for himself.  He married his sweetheart.  He got a job.  He went to work every day.  He helped his wife raise some children.  He served on the church board.  And he lived a full life.  That man may not be a military hero.  But he was a hero nonetheless.

Such can be said for both my father and my father-in-law.  Both of these men served in the military.  Both served in times of war.  My father served during the Korean War.  It was a somewhat forgotten war.  Dad dodged a few bullets while in Korea and he served with honor.  My father -in-law served during the Vietnam War.  And if Korea was a forgotten war, then Vietnam was certainly a forgettable war to many Americans.

Dad - USAFHowever, neither of these men are my hero because of what they did in the service of their Country.  Both of these men are my heroes because of what they did in the service of their family.  The late 1950s saw them leave the military and rejoined civilian life.  And the 1960s and 1970s were times of great social upheaval in our Country’s history.  It was almost social warfare.  So many of their contemporaries and colleagues may have been military heroes, but they were wounded by that social warfare and went AWOL as husbands and fathers.

So, on Memorial Day and on Manday, I encourage those of us who are fathers to be a hero.  Do not be AWOL.  I encourage you to show up for duty every day.  Be a “Hero of the Home“.

And to those of you who have lost loved ones in the service of our Country and for the sake of freedom, we at LeadershipVoices say, Thank You” for paying the ultimate sacrifice that we can lift our voice in freedom.

Have a great Memorial Day


 Photo credit: davidyuweb / Foter.com / CC BY-NC-ND

Roles and Responsibilities – Money

Roles and Responsibilitues - MoneyI have been accused often of taking an approach that is too “business-like”. I like to take an analytical look at the world around me and my environment. That works well in the office environment. But folks tend not to like it very much when I am consulting with small churches about why they are still small and the others around them are growing. This same approach sometimes extends to my personal life.

One of the basic tenets of effectively executing a business objective is the correct identification and assignment of the roles and responsibilities of the members of the team. You may have a top performer in one area, but if they are assigned to an area that is not a strong suit, then things may not go as well as you would like. Of course they can use the assignment to “stretch” them and give them a valuable learning experience. But, you will usually not get optimal performance out of them in that situation.

So, this is “Manday”. What does this article have to do with that?

There are many roles and responsibilities that are often socially assumed to be the domain of us as men. One of the common ones is the handling of money. Many times we are the provider of the largest portion of the family income and it is easy to assume that we should then handle it and manage the disbursements to all of the family bills and obligations. That makes sense, right?

No always!

This is an area that we as men need to take a real hard look at and discuss with our wives whether or not it really should be our primary role and responsibility. In many marriages there are a myriad of things that one partner is good at and the other is not. And the handling of the family budget is usually one of them. But it is also one that carries with it the burden of a traditional or social norm that it is the man’s job to handle the money.

I challenge you as a man today to examine this vital role and responsibility within your family. Are you the best one for the job? If so, do it with diligence. If you are not, then delegate it decisively.

I want to make one final point. This is not a “free pass” to totally abdicate any responsibility for the hard work of managing the family budget. This is especially true when the outflow exceeds the income. No one likes paying the bills when there is not enough to go around. So, in those tough situations, work together to establish the priorities and establish a spending plan that both of you agree to completely. Then, the one with the role and responsibility of executing that plan can do so with the full knowledge and support of the other.

Happy “Tax Day” everyone!


 Photo credit: teamjenkins / Foter.com / CC BY-NC-SA