The character of rugged men
There are certain traits we think of when we think of rugged men. While there are many, I’ve boiled it down to three that I think specifically characterize rugged masculinity.
1.) Avoid making excuses (Have a teachable spirit)
People have been making excuses for their behavior since the beginning when Adam blamed God for giving him a wife that fell into sin and then blamed his wife for tempting him into it too. (Genesis 3:12) A logic problem seems to exist among those that make excuses- the existence of excuses and teachability in the same mind at the same time. These things seem contradictory to each other. A wise man hears truth, learns it, and changes his ways. Proverbs 9:9 ”Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be yet wiser: teach a just man, and he will increase in learning.” A foolish man however, can’t learn because as long as excuses exists he sees no need to learn the thing. So long as he does not need the information, he will not apply it. And excuse-making says, “I’m already doing everything right, my problems aren’t my fault, so I don’t need this information.” Proverbs 12:1 “Whoso loveth instruction loveth knowledge: but he that hateth reproof is brutish.”(read: stupid)
Some of the most common excuses are, “It’s my situation”, or “It’s others’ fault” or ”It’s God’s fault”. So long as a man makes these excuses for poor behavior or habits, he is not being honest. Worse, it makes him look weak.
2.) Ignore inaccurate affirmations (Have a humble spirit)
Similar to making excuses, is that of making inaccurate personal affirmations. While excuses say, “My character problems are the fault of something else,” inaccurate personal affirmations say, “What character problems? No problems here.”
Some common replies in this scenario are “I already do the right things but they’re not effective”, to which I say, “Is it possible that maybe you’re not really doing the right things?”. Maybe there really is a character problem and you’re not tending to it because it hurts to much to admit that your worldview is flawed.
To be Christian men, we must have a source outside ourselves, wiser than ourselves to mentor us. Primarily, this is the Scriptures, so we must study them and see how they desire to change us. Secondarily, this may be a personal mentor who is already at a level of Christian maturity that you’d like to be at yourself. A peer (one already like you) can’t logically serve as mentor. So study the Scriptures regarding virtue and character, and find a wise mentor to help keep you accountable and moving forward. All of this keeps us from becoming “Know-it-alls”.
3.) Reject Complaining (Have a grateful spirit)
1 Thessalonians 5:18 teaches us that God’s will is for us to give thanks in everything. How is this possible? As Christian men, we must frequently acknowledge that even on our worst days, we are better off than if we got what we really deserve. What we deserve is an eternity in Hell from which God has spared us by His grace through personal faith in Jesus Christ for salvation. If this doesn’t make sense to you, read this.
Philippians 2:14 teaches us to “do all things without murmurings…” (complaints). It is pride that tells us “I deserve better than this.” It is envy that says “Everyone else has this but I don’t… and I should!” Neither of those, are wise or attractive traits in Christian men. Neither of those make you look competent, confident, or wise. Gratitude however, changes you. It keeps you from complaining. It makes you seem, well, like a man!
These three things: avoiding excuses, ignoring inaccurate personal affirmations, and rejecting complaining lay a good foundation on which you can begin to undo poor habits of character and replace them with good and godly ones.
While these things are for men and women alike, it is these traits that specifically form the picture rugged masculinity- the strong, soft-spoken, confident, competent, gracious man.