Wimpy Men

Where are the men?

This past week I have gotten a few emails about Mark Driscoll's article in The Washington Post about boys who essentially never grow up and turn into men.  He writes:

Rather than moving from boy to man by this succession of sociological transitions, we've created something called adolescence. It's a third life stage in the middle between boy and man. We don't know what to call them so we just call them guys. These are boys who can shave.

Driscoll's basic argument is that we are growing a generation of boys who enter adulthood as… well, boys.  They don't make the transition to being "real men" who Driscoll sees "Creators and Cultivators."  He draws sharp distinctions between metrosexual and retrosexual men.  He states his ideal:

Men are supposed to be producers, not just consumers. You're defined by the legacy, the life, and the fruit that come out of you, not by what you take in. But most guys are just consumers.

I am the father of three young men and this issue does matter to me.  I do think we live in a culture which has become increasingly hostile to men.  Today, women outnumber men in college (57% of college freshmen are… freshwomen) yet we continue to provide women with affirmative action style placement preferences.  Boys are forced into a female mold in school, and gender confusion is the reigning theme in the entertainment we enjoy.

I am not sure how to evaluate all of this.  I do think that in the church world, pastors are, I hate to say it, plagued with wimpy-ness.  They study hours per week, counsel people, and do public speaking.  In my experience, the majority of our pastors are pastoral – they excel at relationships, writing and reflection, and the pursuit of people's hearts.  Those are all good things and are biblical.  They don't, however, equate with the types of traits we often see in our great leaders (for example, Churchill, Lincoln, Moses, or Paul).  They aren't, for the most part, "butt-kicking leaders."  The idea is, frankly, humorous.  We want our pastors to be caring.

I was just doing some wimpy studying and read about Luther's nickname: The Wild Boar.  He was beer drinking man's man if there ever was one.  Where is today's Luther?

Creators and cultivators?  Give me a break, Mark.  We don't need more artistic men nor do we need farmers.

We need men who will take risks.

I don't believe that there is any area of ministry which promises more risk than global missions

Unfortunately, American men are too wimpy for global missions.

Just in our organization alone, Pioneers (which I think is fairly representative of the larger missions world), 60% of our single staff are women.  In the hardest places I observe more women serving then men.  I challenge you to visit Afghanistan, Iraq, Eritrea, Pakistan, or any of the other "tough places" in missions today.  You will find more women than men.

From my exposure to the global missions world, women are the risk-takers.

Missions is a risk-taking enterprise.  I have lived in war zones, visited disaster sites, climbed mountains, trekked, biked, hiked, and explored all over the world.  When bringing the gospel to these places you are faced with opposition, hardship, and fear.  You need to be ready to go without encouragement, lead those who are fearful, and follow the Star Trek mantra; "Boldly going where no MAN has gone before."

Men, where are you?  I am really asking… Why are men missions-averse?

11 Comments to “Wimpy Men”

  1. David Esler 30 August 2010 at 4:40 pm #

    Good article, I had a few thoughts. I wonder what role the church has had on separating adulthood and adolescence. According to Frank Viola, the teenage movement, especially among churches, emerged in the 20's and 30's. Now days, we have programs for high school students, college students, and 20 something. I have nothing against these different programs but could be having an effect on how these age groups view themselves. Even outside of the church there seems to be some separation, but not to the same extent.

    • tedstur 31 August 2010 at 9:03 am #

      That is one of the nicer things about house church – we have all generations together.

  2. Marti 27 August 2010 at 6:46 pm #

    Hey Ted, you might be interested in checking out this new publication coming out of Britain. The UK's only Christian magazine for men. Or, as they say, "a good, wholesome alternative for blokes." You be the judge if it's only for wimpy ones! http://www.sorted-magazine.com

  3. Mary 27 August 2010 at 10:12 am #

    Interesting article Ted.

    What do you mean by "…we continue to provide women with affirmative action style placement preferences. Boys are forced into a female mold in school…"?

    • tedstur 27 August 2010 at 11:51 am #

      Mary, check out http://www.whyboysfail.com/ for info on this topic. It's one of many sources that have documented the success of gender-based affirmative action programs. In some states these programs are now banned yet higher education systems (particularly funding mechanisms) continue to favor girls. The disparity is now so great, in fact, that schools are beginning to implement reverse affirmative action programs – getting more boys into the pipeline. Because higher ed is so institutionalized and bureaucratic, that will take years and years to implement.

      We could talk sometime about our experience with college funding for our boys (and now, girl).

      More importantly, the style of education favors girls over boys, particularly in the K-12 realm.

  4. Marti 27 August 2010 at 9:47 am #

    Good post, Ted!

    I remember a male colleague throwing down a copy of a popular, Christian, how-to-be-a-real-man book and exclaiming what a waste it was that Christian men would be off having masculine adventures hunting, fishing, climbing, and riding horses through the mountains – completely ignoring the task/risk/challenge/adventure of world evangelization.

    A young Cam Townsend was in college when America was about to enter WWI. He was part of the Student Volunteer Movement and applied to go to Latin America to sell Bibles. But he was also in the National Guard and he might have gone to war instead, had not a spunky single woman missionary, home on furlough, rebuked him. She told him he would be a coward for “going to war where a million other men will go and leaving us women to do the Lord’s work alone.”

    • tedstur 27 August 2010 at 1:42 pm #

      Great story on Townsend!

      - Ted

  5. Donovan 27 August 2010 at 9:38 am #

    Regarding your objection, "Creators and cultivators? Give me a break, Mark [Driscoll]. We don't need more artistic men nor do we need farmers." However, Driscoll defines these roles more broadly than farmers and artists. He says he wants God's glory and kingdom to be visible through men, do you see this vision as incompatible with missions? He tells guys to create a ministry and cultivate people, isn't that compatible with overseas evangelism? He guys to create and cultivate businesses, isn't that compatible with BAM? You want to see men as risk-takers for God. I don't think you and Driscoll have anything to disagree about; note his conclusion. "Stop looking for the path of least resistance and start running down the path of greatest glory to God."

    I would add this. You yourself had a career and family before your missions career. Most likely, this matured and equipped you (as well as providing credentials) to be the exceptional team leader your were and leader which you are now. There's nothing wrong with guys moving from prolonged adolescence into creative and cultivating careers like entrepreneurism, medicine, social work, law, graphics design, IT, or even farming. Many of today's "young bucks" (that one's for Robi) are too immature to be prepared and equipped for overseas missions.

  6. Clint Wagnon 27 August 2010 at 9:21 am #

    Great word! Thanks for it. With you %1000. (And especially a high, high-five on your words about men on mission in dangerous places.)

    One thing though. Mark argues the same thing. In creators and cultivators, he does not mean artsy hippies. He means risk takers, entrepreneurs, missional men of responsibility. His numerous talks on the issue clarify that terminology.

    Again, thanks for the great article!

    • tedstur 27 August 2010 at 1:41 pm #

      Clint,

      Thanks for the comment – you and Donovan were making a similar point. You are correct, in noting that "Creators and Cultivators" are similar to what I suggest. I do think, though, that the idea of RISK is what jazzes men most.

      - Ted


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