If you're going to be a Stronger Man, you must be crystal clear on deeply-held convictions.
Among the many crises facing manhood in our day, certainly at the top is the woeful lack of good, right, virtuous ambition. It's not only that boys trying to be men want bad things, it's that there are so few men whose hearts burn with desires for good things.
I will not be one of those men. And neither will you.
I refuse to drift, coast, or meander through life. I want to march. I want to know who I am and what I'm about when my feet hit the floor. I don't want my life marked by an uncertain, unassertive, indifferent question mark, but an ever-increasing, confident, courageous, clear exclamation point.
For me, that has meant discovering, articulating, and regularly reviewing my core values as a Stronger Man.
Let me unpack each piece of that for you.
Discovering...this was and continues to be a process of reading, observing, listening, and learning. I do not trust my own head and heart to be a source of timeless virtue. So I look outside myself for objective anchor points I can tether my life to. As a Christian, I have found this most explicitly in the Bible, in the writings of faithful Christians down through history, and in the lives of other godly men around me. Whatever that source is for you, you have to find it, ask yourself if it's reliable, and then do everything you can to learn everything from it. This is the virtue of humility.
Articulating...this was and continues to be the process of defining, refining, and sharpening words and phrases so as to capture ideas in a way that grips me. I wanted my core values to be written in such a way so that whenever I read it, wherever I was, I would go "YES!" and they would have an instant clarifying effect. That when I read them, I'd be moved. I'd be motivated. I'd be made better. They had to crystalize for me the most important things in my life. Every man is different. Take the time to word them in a way that moves you.
Reviewing...this was and continues to be the process of reflecting, repenting, and recalibrating my life to come in line with those things I say I want to value most. Because the hard reality is I don't always live out my core values. Weariness, laziness, selfishness, and a whole lot of other weaker-man-ness type stuff hijack and torpedo my march into Stronger Manhood. And it takes regularly reviewing my values to help me see whether or not I'm living on track with that which I've determined to be most valuable...to do the most good in the world and to make me the most happy / satisfied / content.
Core Values...these are those deeply held convictions I refuse to compromise. They help me prioritize my time, make hard decisions, and know what I should say yes and no to. They are a north star. A decision-making matrix. A filter for money and time spent. They not only energize me, they re-align me when I get off track. They exhilarate me when I'm discouraged. They refocus me when I'm distracted. They kick me in the butt when I'm tempted to lie on the couch. They push me, challenge me, pull me, shape me, refine me. They draw a "Heck Yeah!" out of my lungs when I read them. They may not be true of my life all the time, but all the time I'm working to live them out as best as I can.
Do you have a core set of values? You actually do, whether you've thought about it or not. They function like the internal software running your life. Every decision you make, you unconsciously filter them through your value-set.
So the only question left is...are your values good values?
Don't assume they all are. That's why I've taken the time to write mine out and regularly review them. Most often they explain my life. But often they also confront my life. "Hmmm, I said I value ______, but you wouldn't know it by how I spent my time this past week..."
So, if you're going to be a Stonger Man, you have to be guided by deeply-held convictions.
Here are mine. What are yours?
As a Man, I value:
Manhood...I will be a vigilant Protector, a faithful Provider, a compelling Leader, a passionate Lover. I will be a man who elevates the men around him towards noble manhood. I will be a good brother, teammate, soldier. I will not only make men around me want to be better, I will help them actually be better.
Husbandry…I will be Sharon’s greatest earthly blessing. She will blossom as a woman under my leadership. She will be fulfilled, content, whole, blessed. There will never be a moment where she is not thriving under my leadership.
Fatherhood…My children will know emotional affirmation, easy laughter, intellectual stimulation, relational presence, spiritual guidance. They will not live life as orphans. They will experience a strong fatherly presence in their life. They will feel prioritized, loved, supported.
Influence...I want my life to make an impact, move the needle, and change others for good. I will draw greatness out of leaders for Jesus' sake.
Significance...I value living a life that matters, in a cosmic sense, to the bigger story.
Purpose...I value having a reason to get up that’s compelling. I am not content with just taking up space or existing. I will not drift through life. I will march on mission. All in, one name.
Focus...I value concentration of resources that yield results. I will not bounce from shiny toy to boyish pleasure...I will identify my meaningful calling and relentlessly pursue it.
Effort & Heart…I value sweat and strain. I will not be taken out for lack of firing back. I will not go quietly into the night. I will leave it all on the field. I will die boots on, clip empty, barrel melted.
Nobility...I value honor and chivalry. I am an old soul and ok with that. I hold doors, walk on the street side, carry heavy stuff, say "ma'am", and take bullets if necessary so the women around me don’t have to. The women in my life will be treated like royalty.
Courage...I value fearlessness. I will face my fears and charge. Any bullet holes will be in the front.
Freedom...I need the freedom to pursue my calling, cut my own path, make my own way. I don't do well working for the other guy. God made me to lead. I will do this.
Giving...I love exercising my gift of giving. I love giving gifts that make other people feel loved, cared for, and special. I love giving big gifts.
Team / Brotherhood / Camaraderie...I love the thrill of winning through the collaboration and coordination of people more skilled than I, for a purpose bigger than us all, against odds that cause others to walk off the field. I love being pushed by exceptional people, and I hope to make others better as well.
Curiosity...The world is full of wonder. I will not miss it.
Excellence...I love doing my very best at whatever I do, and I love watching people do anything with exceptionalism.
Building...I value progress. I want to see things come into existence as a result of my own hands and effort.
Helping...I value moving toward others in times of extreme need and tragedy to make a difference in their story.
Learning...I value getting better. I have a lot to learn and limited time left to learn it. I will keep my eyes and ears open. I don't want to have the experience and miss the lesson.
Availability...I value being prepared in order to help. I want to be ready mentally, financially, spiritually, physically, emotionally to be of help to others in time of need.
Aesthetic Beauty…I value color, texture, shape and vibe combined to draw out nostalgia, wonder, awe. I love making beautiful spaces and places people love to be.
Good Battle...I am not wired for idleness. I long for peace, but was built for battle. I despise evil. I believe in good. I have a King who has enemies, and that King has my allegiance. Saddle up. To the fight.