Cheer men on. A few weekends ago, I spent some time thinking about my dad. I thought of our times growing up in a small town in Virginia; the moments of fishing and hunting with him. We spent time in the woods exploring and discovering all the old farms and mountains in that area. I also spent some time reflecting on his life as a man. A young father figuring out life much like I am now with a young family.
Tag Archives: Envy
We’re getting close to the end of The Replacements. The season has gone on and this team of losers, rejects and has-beens learned to play well together. We get to the last game of the season, with the playoffs on the line, and the star quarterback decides to return to the team. He is an arrogant, condescending jerk and the team falls apart in the first half. At halftime, the coach is asked what it will take to get back in the game. He responds, “You’ve got to have heart. Miles and miles of heart.” Keanu appears in the locker room, the team rallies around him and they win the game in dramatic fashion. They run off the field as the closing song plays. “We can be heroes, just for one day.”
Proving that all you need to win the game, get the girl and be the hero is to have “miles and miles of heart.”
But what does that mean? We’ve got lots of phrases about the heart. You see a guy and say “He’s got no heart,” or “My heart’s not in it.” What does it look like to “have heart” or “lose heart?”
Plenty of men have lost their heart. They might show up, but they aren’t present. At dinner, they eat with their family but spend the whole time on the phone or watching TV. They go to work, go home, go to bed. Rinse and repeat the next day. Over and over. These men are checked out, empty shells of who they once wanted to be.
Sometimes, they try to fill the void in their chest with anything they can—alcohol, drugs, work, women, even fantasy football and video games. While it doesn’t give them what they are looking for, at least it covers it up so no one else can see they have lost heart. Like hanging a picture over the hole you punched in the wall, it doesn’t fix the problem, just covers it up.
So many of us have lost heart in some area. We had great dreams and desires as young men, and life happened. Being married wasn’t as easy as we thought, especially once kids came along. Doing the same job, day after day, without meaning, without purpose takes its toll. As duty bound men, we put our heads down and do what has to be done. Usually, that involves killing our dreams and desires, and over time we lose our hearts.
We were meant to be much more than breadwinners, bacon bringers, and bill payers. We see men who have miles and miles of heart, and we want that. But when we look around us at all the “stuff”—expectations, demands, and duties—we are overwhelmed. How can we get our hearts back?
The first step, as they say, is admitting we have a problem. Realizing our hearts are dead. Or at least sick. We aren’t where we would like to be, and we want to do something about it. But what?
Zig Ziglar said, “If you aim at nothing, you will hit it every time.” Sometime over this next week, I would encourage you to sit down and write out what it is you want to see in different areas of your life. Start with yourself and what sort of man you want to be. Then expand your vision to your marriage, your children, your friends, work, calling and dreams. Be as clear as you can and dream as big as you want. If you don’t know what it looks like to have heart, you won’t know how to get there. This week, start making your map.
About the Author
Paul McDonald is a writer who shares the story of God’s victory in his life at The Original PMcD. He lives in Charlotte with his wife, who have four children between them. He loves corny comedies and knows way too many movie quotes.
We are a very competitive nation; from our sports, to our business, to our hunting activities, and even our politics, we compete in many facets. We find ways of measuring everything from the size of car engines to deer racks.
America is one giant competitive engine in motion. With that competition cycle, there are winners and losers. For every winner, there is a line of losers in the wake. And in America, we don’t like to lose.
I believe in every one of us, especially as men, there is a question that we ask ourselves: “do I measure up?” How do we figure out the answer to this question? Well, we do what Americans do. We compare ourselves and compete for it with other men. As a rather small and underdeveloped freshmen walking through the halls of high school, the answer I knew was that I was not big, strong, or significant enough to measure to up what was around me. This body, this mind, this person; I was going to have to earn this in time.
I’ve noticed something in my 30’s that can get you in trouble. When you don’t quite have a sense of who you are, you take that ideology and use it against others. You throw yourself in the area’s of business, sports, women, you name it, and see how you compare to others. I remember a few years ago being called out by a mentor. “When you feel small, you have to make other men feel smaller.” Listening to it, I wanted to react sharply: heck no. That sounded horrible. But it hit me; I do that. In fact, the whole goal was really to out-compete other men. From close friends to random folks I met, I was internally checking myself with a question: “am I better?”
There is a sense that if I can test myself and win over the next guy, well, then somehow I am stronger. If I can win, then there is something inside that says, “you do measure up.”
But what a trap. If we compare ourselves to others, we are only as great as our success is over them. We are (either verbally or mentally) saying to those around us, “I need to be greater than you.”
Envy is the monster there. We can live our lives being jealous and threatened by anyone. We either spend our lives trying to prove ourselves against larger challenges, or we might find men that we know we can “beat.” This is where it gets us in trouble: we can easily find ourselves around people that don’t challenge us in good ways. We create small men in our minds to make us feel big.
Competing against others diminishes your identity because it’s admitting that someone else can give or take away a good trait within yourself. The truth is, we all have different strengths, different displays of masculinity, and it requires us looking inward rather than projecting this onto others. Our family, our past, our journey of people who have brought us into those places; those are gifts from God for us to discover. I believe part of the journey is weeding through all this and turning from outwardly focused to inwardly. And in some ways, laying down our competitive arms against each other, and finding the greater battles.
And yet, taking that path is a harder journey. I am convinced all of our strengths never diminish another man’s gifts. Your greatness should not threaten my own. We can discover our truest self without making someone else smaller. If iron sharpens iron, strong men strengthen strong men. Here is the challenge: When we shine, we become a threat to that competitive system. It requires other men to either accept that uniqueness and greatness or judge it and compare to their own. It puts contention on the plate.
So here is my suggestion: a simple way of honoring both yourself and another man.
Consider celebrating the success of another man’s accomplishments.
It does a few things…
1. That man will be grateful that someone sees him and recognizes him without that threat. Your friendship will grow closer.
2. It could be difficult because it is what you are deeply looking for from another man. We tend to hold back what we want ourselves. But by offering it, your expression will more than likely pay off. Others will desire to give back, maybe even to you.
3. It will be a good step in breaking the cycle of envy and help you find yourself amongst other strong men.
I’m starting to think you can know a truly confident man by his circle of friends. Do they bow down to him? Do they become small in his presence? Are they equals and are they invited to stand as peers amongst one another? Does that man invite others to be strong for him? Or does he always have to be the strong one? When we stand together, that sharpening of character and class is being shared amongst us all. In some ways, we can use that masculine aggression and fight far greater battles than fighting to win glory from each other. The battles that our families and our country need us to fight.
About the Author: Xan Hood is a dreamer and builder. He is primarily focused on entrepreneurial ideas in concepts with mission and business. He has written several books on leadership and started a non-profit leadership program in Colorado called Training Ground. He is the founder and owner of Buffalo Jackson Trading Co. A lifestyle clothing brand and leather goods company.
I long for deeper and closer friendships in my life, and I have been grateful for the men who have come into my world. But, often the same men I would want as a closer brother, I can struggle with deep envy of. I am both drawn to them and their gifts, yet at the same time, I am jealous of them.
Their presence can almost feel like a threat.
I can quickly start to measure my life and progress against theirs. I can secretly put a scorecard of my life vs. theirs. Comparing their lifestyle, their athletic prowess, their character, their parenting style, their gifts, you name it.
In the Bible, our first story of two flesh and blood brothers, Cain and Abel, does not go well. Inevitably the jealous nature of our fallen hearts, due to sin, ends with Cain taking all his anger and disappointment into his own hand, and killing his brother instead of trusting God.
Continuing down the family tree, you find Jacob and Esau. There is trickery amongst a brother for that longing to be blessed and validated by the Father. And even after all that, Jacob has a son who is thrown into a pit and left for dead. It is all due to the brother’s jealousy of Jacob. Envy turns to a plan for murder.
When we are not blessed, and not given our identity in our Father, or look to Him, we tend to envy friendships and brothers. And it can get messy.
But the interesting thing in all these biblical stories of brothers, and in today, is the root need is our desire to be blessed and affirmed. Their stories and our stories are a search for that blessing from their Father.
Notice that most of us are not jealous of fathers and mentors, as much as brothers near our age and stage in life? Why is that?
I think, in part, it is because we turn against one another and try to compete.
But God’s affirming and blessing of one man is never in the diminishment of another. He doesn’t give one gift and withhold from another. He might be doing different things, at different seasons, but he can bless all. And he does. It’s not a zero-sum game.
We need to see the gifts of our brothers, and what he has given us as not something we earned. We can’t do something to achieve it. And that is one of the hardest parts to understand. That one man’s gifts could be a gift to us. Because we need each other.
When envy rises, and I can catch it, it is often an opportunity for me to confess, and get in touch with that need in me. Often, when I admit the jealousy, I find that I am letting go, and giving my own need to God. As opposed to hating someone else, I become dependent on my Father to lead me.
Confess your jealousy vs. letting it build up. I can remember telling a friend recently about my jealousy of their writing skills. It was good to release that to them rather than create a divide between us. It turned out that through sharing, it was an encouraging word they needed. And it brought us closer.
As men, we need to be affirmed, spoken to, called into our identity, and loved. And for most men, it is rare to understand that deep need for the Blessing.
We layer it with earning it, achievement, and results to be seen. Hence, why we compete and have envy. We think if we could do or be that, we might find it.
James 4:3 says “You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.”
Next time you see a man you envy or possibly want to grow closer to as a brother, be reminded that he is in search of the same thing you are after. And he might not even know the strength he has. He is probably looking for that same affirming word from above.
What if we were to affirm our brothers instead of competing with them?
We can come together as brothers, seeking the Father’s blessing.
Article written by Xan Hood. Founder of the Buffalo Jackson Trading Co. He’s primarily focused on entrepreneurial ideas in concepts with mission and business. Xan has written several books, started a non-profit leadership program in Colorado, and is in development of a lifestyle clothing brand, Buffalo Jackson, bootstrapping the company from the start.