I’ve shared a lot of things on here about what I’ve seen done wrong in how we talk to/about men – single and married. Let me share about one of the best events I’ve ever been to and why it stood out.
A group held a special event a couple of years ago in a community near me. They hosted a “Father’s Night”. They invited the people from the community to come to the school auditorium to honor some fathers from the community. They first had three very different speakers talk about fatherhood and what it means. Then, get this, they actually honored some fathers with fatherhood awards.
The fathers were selected based upon being nominated by their teenage kids. The MC of the evening stood up front and read what the kids wrote about their fathers and then called them up front, shook their hand and gave them a plaque. It was amazing. Now these were not perfect men. There were fathers of all kinds in these nominations. There was a dad who was married with three kids – this kid being one of them. There was a dad who wasn’t married to the kid’s mom but still committed to being a good dad.
But the finale was the most incredible. He was a single dad. When the MC first got up and began to share he said, “I’m not sure if this gentlemen will be able to make it tonight as he is trying go make it from work.” As he read the nomination from this man’s daughter he shared her words, “My dad is not perfect. We fight a lot. It’s tough because he has to work two jobs so I don’t get to spend as much time with him as I’d like. But I’ve never missed a meal, I have a roof over my head and I’m going to graduate, all because of him.” Just as he finished reading, the back door swung open and in walked this father, straight from work, still in uniform. As he walked down front people erupted in applause. It was awesome!
I had never seen anything like it. What I realized that night is that we need a lot more of this. We need to honor the men who are trying. Yes we need to challenge men (and women). Yes men are sinful (because they’re human). But if we want to end fatherlessness perhaps, just maybe, we ought to celebrate those making the effort to be a dad. I once heard someone teaching on discipleship say, “One of the keys to leading people is to celebrate the behaviors you want to instill”. Amen!!
This, as I see it, is one of our big problems in culture and for sure in Christian culture. We don’t honor men. We don’t even honor fathers. The cost of this is huge. It creates lack of respect for husbands from wives. It de-incentivizes marriage to single men. It helps create unrealistic standards of perfection for men both married and single.
Instead of honoring the men who are working, trying, fighting to be better, it lumps all men in the same group. Therefore, what is the point really?
The truth is that the average Christian married guy is trying. He loves his wife, wants to be a good husband, wants to be a good dad, is trying to make it happen. He screws it up, because we all do, but the effort is there. I don’t get how dishonoring that is helpful.
But dishonor it we do. Constantly. It’s in almost every movie and tv show. Maybe especially in “Christian” movies. This is the biggest problem with the recent Gillette commercial by the way. There are some things that are right about that commercial. But there are other things that are wrong. One scene in particular.
Starting at the 33 second mark there is a scene where two boys are fighting and for the next 5 seconds we see a row men in a yard behind grills saying, “Boys will be boys”. Let’s think about this.
First, in all of my years with men I’ve never heard that line. I suppose someone somewhere says that, but it’s certainly not the norm. No one that I know would sit and watch that and say nothing but boys will be boys. But there is something more off about it.
Who are these men behind the grills? Let me tell you who they are. They are husbands and fathers. That’s assumed. These, friends, are the “good guys”. These are the men who have “manned up”. They got married. They have jobs. You know this because only men with jobs have fenced in back yards with grills. They are providing for their families. Statistically married men work more hours and make more money than any other group of people. More than single men and divorced men. They are trying. They go to work, stay married, play catch with their kids, go to dance recitals, go to church more than any other group of men and that’s just for starters.
They’re not perfect but they deserve honor not ridicule. And for the love of all things holy, you and I are not better than them. We’re not better than the man, nominated by his daughter, who walked into the Fathers Night ceremony from his second job. And understand this: Unless we start honoring that, we should stop expecting young men to want to become it.