I think that every boy at one time or another dreams of being the “hero.” It’s ingrained in the media he sees and reads and the world he witnesses. Many men still aspire to be a hero, especially in the eyes of their children.
Unfortunately, becoming a hero in today’s masculine culture is often seen as a destination instead of a launching pad or mile marker in the life a healthy man. Good men who do become heroes realize that it’s not supposed to be a destination. It is a significant chapter in a larger story they have yet to live.
Furthermore, men who idolize becoming a hero find the pursuit daunting and ultimately unfulfilling once achieved.
Therefore, changing or reframing the hero mindset is essential. Healthy men can both model and mentor healthy heroism to their families – especially their children.
Heroes are Protectors, not Predators
Sheep are afraid of wolves. Rightly so. Wolves are by far the most dangerous predators to sheep. They are one of the largest predators that will kill and feed on sheep whenever the opportunity presents itself.
Sheep are also afraid of shepherd dogs. Although shepherd dogs are trained to protect them from wolves, they still fear them. Why do they fear their protector as much the predator?
Wolves and shepherd dogs share a remarkable amount of shared DNA. Research published by one of the oldest Natural History Museums in Great Britain stated that according to DNA samples, it would appear that the shepherd dog is most closely related to the grey wolf.
“Point-two-percent is the difference between domestic dog DNA and grey wolf DNA, whereas the difference between coyote DNA and dog DNA is 4%. So, the grey wolf is by far the closest match.”
The same is similar when you contrast unhealthy masculinity with healthy masculinity. Unhealthy masculinity is rooted in a performance-based culture. It measures a man by what he does which tend to produce a “predator” mindset. Healthy masculinity measures a man by who he is, which tends to produce a “protector” mindset.
Many men I counsel and meet at retreats often view healthy masculinity as weak. They see healthy masculinity as being in comparison to the “take charge,” dominating or controlling mindset of unhealthy masculinity. Nothing could be further from the truth.
It takes far greater strength to maintain control of your strength. This is especially true these days when we witness arguments breaking out on the freeway or in a Walmart parking spot over who got there first.
Healthy manhood is the strength of character: patient, self-disciplined, appreciative, respectful, and approachable. A man living in unhealthy manhood treats ever encounter as a challenge to his manhood that needs to be beaten or intimidated into submission. Then he wonders why he has trouble developing healthy relationships with family or why he doesn’t have any deep, meaningful relationships.
It’s difficult and at times, a dangerous world we live in. Your family, friends, and community need your protective strength. However, strength out of control creates fear, not fellowship. Unhealthy masculinity idolizes power and control as its holy grail.
Our society suffers when men buy into this myth.
Healthy masculine strength, character, and communication prevent many arguments or altercations. Healthy men aren’t easily irritated, but they have no problem defending themselves or their family and friends when necessary.
When you think less of yourself than you should, you’re often quick to lash out with angry words or worse. Learning to see your true worth and nurturing and developing your true character makes you much stronger mentally, emotionally, and relationally.
True strength begins and ends with how a man sees himself. What kind of man do you want to be known as – a protector or a predator?
If today’s blog struck a chord with your heart, check out these posts: “Envisioning the Man You Can Be” and “Made to Believe You’re Not Strong Enough.”
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