His Greatest Fear

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.

Fearful man © vchalup | dollarphotoclub.com

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.

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4 Comments on “His Greatest Fear

  1. “Fishermen should be the easiest men to convince to seek God. For what is fishing but the pursuit of the elusive?”-izaak walton

  2. According to the Qu’ran, Allah does not subtract from a man’s measured days those days spent fishing.

    This is an interesting question…and I would never have expected the “feeling foolish” answer. It’s something that has never bothered me, possibly because I learned to use an appearance of incompetence as quite effective camouflage.

    If you look inept, people will assume you ARE inept, and that can be a huge tactical advantage.

    But to get there, to be convincing, the learning process required an understanding of the psychological profile of incompetence…and the simple truth that everyone sucks at something.

    Andrew Budek-Schmeisser recently posted…Your Dying Spouse 141 – Pride GoethMy Profile

    • @Andrew – You must be quite the actor. When I met you, even ill you came across as someone who could handle pretty much anything.
      Paul Byerly recently posted…Travel UpdateMy Profile

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