Accepting Failure

Steve Arterburn

Whenever something needs to be fixed at Red and Trina’s house, Red feels it’s his responsibility to do the job. Trina’s dad was the fix-it man around her house growing up, so Red wants to live up to his example and his wife’s expectations. The only problem is that Red is hopelessly inept at mechanical things. Whenever he attempts a plumbing, electrical, auto or appliance repair, he ends up going to the hardware store numerous times. First, he has to buy the replacement part. He usually comes home with the wrong size or breaks it while installing it, so back to the store he goes again. And when he’s done, he often discovers that what he’s fixed wasn’t the problem to begin with.

At each level of failure in this process, Red gets angrier and angrier. Strength and success are such highly masculine values in our culture many men feel less than manly when they discover a weakness or experience failure. Like Red, feeling inept in an area where men are characteristically skilled makes them boiling mad. Other men feel the same response when they get laid off or can’t improve their golf score.

Can you relate? Contrary to what you feel, failure isn’t the end of the world. And masculinity isn’t defined by your mechanical ability or athleticism. For a true perspective of what it means to be a man, study Jesus in the gospels. You’ll be both challenged and pleasantly surprised.

Defining Manhood

Steve Arterburn

Tony’s father died when he was a young boy. The event devastated him, and he plummeted into a yearlong depression. He eventually pushed the depression aside, however, through his achievements. He poured himself into his schoolwork and athletics, and excelled in both. He went on to college and into business knowing nothing but success because of his commitment to hard work and achievement.

As a young man, Tony, somewhere deep inside him, asked himself, Am I a man? But he couldn’t come up with an answer. His father, the main man in his life, was dead. Young Tony didn’t know by example what a real man was. The question persisted: Am I a man? Without the example and instruction of his father, Tony saw the achievement-oriented men in his culture and deduced that a real man was someone who worked hard, earned lots of money, and climbed the ladder of success. Any threat to his achievement, therefore, was a threat to his manhood, and that kept him perpetually angry.

In his ignorance, Tony wrongly defined manhood as something he did, not something he was. Are you like Tony? Maybe you’re like many men who were abandoned physically or emotionally by their fathers. If your definition of masculinity is linked to doing something there’s a good chance you often don’t feel like a man. And if you’re a dad, I encourage you to reflect on what message your sending your kids on what it means to be a man.

Two Changed Men

Steve Arterburn

What words would your friends or family use to describe you? Jesus referred to two brothers’James and John’as Sons of Thunder. Why? We’re given a glimpse of their fiery personalities in the Bible. After some people rejected them, James and John asked Jesus if they should call down fire from heaven to consume the village. Jesus rebuked them for their impulse to retaliate.

Yet that’s not the end of their story. Jesus worked in these brothers’ lives so that they became known for love and forgiveness.

Though the two brothers had once been ambitious for their own personal gain, they became ambitious to share God’s love with others. The brothers discovered that when you understand and experience God’s love, you are free to live and grow. And as you grow and share with others, you be used by God to touch the lives of many in need of God’s healing help.

Can you relate to the anger and selfish ambition of these men? If so, be encouraged by God’s work in their lives. He wants to do the same in you!