The following is the start of What Is Your Greatest Fear?, a post from Ransomed Heart Ministries.
[John Eldredge]: “What is your greatest fear, as a man?“
[Sam Eldredge (John’s son)]: “That’s easy; I fear feeling like a fool. I fear and hate it above everything else. Hate might not even be a strong enough word; loathe may be better.“
I think most men would agree with Sam on this. It would be easy to dismiss this as pride and tell men to grow up, but the issue isn’t that simple.
For men being competent is much like how a woman feels about her appearance. Society says our ability to do anything “male” well is how we’re measured. If we can’t do all the things we are supposed to do, we feel like less of a man.
This can lead to hiding and avoidance. Let me give an example:
I have not been fishing in about 40 years. My dad didn’t fish, and none of my friends were into it. I did it a few times, and today I could bait a hook without hurting myself, but I would in no way be competent.
The pastor where we are speaking this week told me he almost called me Friday morning to go fishing with him, but given we were talking that night decided against it. A decade ago had he offered I’d have made an excuse to avoid him seeing how woefully inadequate I was at fishing. Now I’d have accepted, admitted my limitations, and taken the opportunity to learn something new. I’d still have felt a bit odd, but I know and trust this man so it wouldn’t have been a stretch.
It’s taken me a lot of work to become mature enough to admit “I don’t know how to do that.” It doesn’t come naturally to me as a man of this culture, and I have to be ready to take some good-natured ribbing when I own something like this. Your husband faces the same threats.
~ Paul – I’m XY, and Tom, I’m going to get my son to take me fishing this summer so I’ll be ready for you the next time we come this way.