When The Man Up Speech Isn’t Enough

There’s a great scene in the movie Any Given Sunday in which Al Pacino (who plays an on the hot seat head coach) gives a pre-game speech to his team before the last and most important game of the year.  All season he has been trying to bring the team together and help a young QB forced into action become a leader.  It’s gone poorly.  But now the veteran QB has returned from injury and Pacino knows this game and season is all on the line.

The speech actually has a lot of deep stuff in it (and a bad word or two) and there is something about it that makes you want to go to battle.  But what I love the most about the scene comes at the very end.  As Pacino closes he challenges the the team.  He says we can win or lose, live or die.  Then he says, “Now what are you going to do?!”  The locker room goes crazy.  Men are going nuts they are so fired up. They’re ready to rush into battle. Except for the two most veteran players.  You know why?  Because they’d been there before.  And they knew the cost.  I realized watching that scene that they were the real men.

I once got to spend 4 days at a John Eldredge Wild at Heart “boot camp.”  It was in Colorado at a Young Life Property in the mountains.  In the instructions to get there it said, “Rent a 4 wheel drive vehicle from the airport.  You will probably need it”.  What could be more “man” than that.

It was an incredible weekend.  Eldredge and his friends that led the retreat did not disappoint.  We looked at our wounds and talked about how we were created as men.

Now you would think that the message the last day would have been something like, “Now go out and change the world” or, “Take action now!  Change everything!”  But you know what they said about 10 different ways? “Do NOT rush the field.”  In other words move cautiously.  Dig deep.  Go slow and steady.  God has shown you some stuff.  Take it back and chew on it.

The church is scared when it comes to the marriage.  The reality is all around them. The writing is on the wall and the season is coming to the end.  Masculinity as we were created to have it is in real trouble.  I mean 4th and goal trouble.  Men are failing to lead. They are not getting married.  Some are marrying other men.  There are more and more unmarried people that probably shouldn’t be.  Men are either weak, ruled by women, or living in extended adolescence. And it seems no matter what we do the trend continues.

Lots of things have contributed to it.  The feminist movement, lives that are too comfortable and at our fingertips – including sexual immorality, and a huge amount of fatherlessness that just continues to speed up the cycle.

We’ve tried to answer it with books and rallies. We got together to make promises.  We asked young men (and women) to wait for true love.  We kissed dating goodbye. The result?  It’s worse now than ever.  Did we actually think that we could slogan ourselves to victory?

The latest attempt to fix all of this are the “Man Up” pastors.  These guys are fired up.  A lot of them are angry. They know all the problems and causes inside and out and they rail against them.  All the problems are apparently men’s fault. They know that men need to step up and they are ready to challenge us to do it.  But here’s the problem.  If you rush the field, if you get fired up and head out, if you spend all of your energy in the first three minutes of the game, you’re going to get your tail kicked when you get out there.

What does this have to do with singleness?  Everything!

It’s a mess out there as a single guy.  But if you don’t know who you are as a man it’s complete disaster.  Most of us have never been taught what to do with women and most of what we have been taught is wrong.  And being told to man up is not going to cut it. The pre-game speech (read sermon) is not enough.  We need the right practice, the right in game coaching and the some of us need a whole new playbook.  We need veteran leadership.

This is all prologue really.  I’m going to write more on this asap.  I promise it’s going somewhere.  But for today, let me ask you a couple of questions.  What does man up mean to you? Do you want to be fired up or are you willing to be built up?