A few minutes into our conversation I knew that I was probably not the best fit. Whereas my gifts lie in counseling and soul care–what my pastor friend called a ‘nurturing’ role–he was looking to fill a position with someone more ‘exciting.’ Looking to attract younger folks to his church, especially young families and youth in the city, what this position needs, he said, is a dynamic person who can pull in people with his charisma and vision.
As I hung up the phone, all I could think about was how much I’d rather be thought ‘exciting’ than ‘nurturing.’ Although my friend tried his best to minimize the difference and grant both equal value, I can’t help think that most men probably feel the same way I do: a man’s place is to brave danger, ford rushing rivers, climb mountains, and slay dragons, but not to nurture.
What is a man’s place? To Fight or to Love?
As I think of all the great men and heroes I admire, it’s clear that the answer is both. All good fighters are also good lovers. If one says he is a fighter and not a lover, then what does he fight for? We only fight because we love. On the other hand, if he says he loves but doesn’t fight, then how can he be anything but a false lover? If we truly love something, then we are willing to fight for it.
By the way, women too are fighters and lovers. Fighting is not essentially masculine, nor is love essentially feminine. Rather, to fight and to love are human traits. (More on the true difference between man and woman in a later post, perhaps.)
Surely my friend had a good point. The practical thing to do if you’re looking to hire a fighter is to find someone who’s already adept at fighting, not someone who’s more adept at healing (or nurturing). If your army has plenty of soldiers with medical expertise but no snipers, then the next recruit ought to be a sniper, not a medic.
Mature Manhood is Both
That said, in 15 years (or sooner), I’d like my friend to think of me differently, or as more balanced, than I currently am. I’d like him to say, “Hey Brett, you know I used to only see you as a nurturer, but now I’m seeing you as something else, too. You’re definitely still calm and collected when you need to be, but you can get wild and go berserk when it’s called for. You’re just as courageous as you are loving.”
That, to me, would be a sign that I’m becoming more fully human. I don’t just want to be somewhat like Jesus, who is the perfect human being. I want to be a lot like him. I want to be a real man, a fighter and a lover.