In the movie, The Company Men, Bobby, played by Ben Affleck, works for GTX Corp – a major shipbuilder. He’s got a pricey house, country club and leases a Porsche. He’s pretty self-absorbed and is clearly a poser. He presents this false self of success and in that, a pretty clear shallowness emerges. He walks into work in this opening scene and his entire world is about to be rocked. It’s 2008 and we’re in the teeth of the global financial crisis. He’s laid off.
He has to come home and tell his wife he’s been fired and right away, he wears the pose. He falls back on this “I’ve got it under control, it’s not my fault, we got screwed mentality.” He goes to anger but his stance is “I’m a stud, we’re going to be fine.”
Right after telling his wife he’s been fired, they are due to attend his brother-in-laws for a cookout. Notice the difference in the two neighborhoods. His brother-in-law Jack, played by Kevin Costner, is a contractor. He’s a typical Boston, blue-collar, man’s man who has had to work for everything he has. He cannot stand Bobby and the feeling is mutual. The last thing Bobby wants is for anyone to know he’s been fired so he tells his family to keep a secret – especially to his brother-in-law
Bobby’s already turned down one job that would have required him to move. He’s radically posing. He’s in radical denial. The gist of his whole story at this point is “this cannot have happened to me and why don’t any of these companies see just how wonderful I am”. Bobby comes home from a day at the outplacement office. His wife paying the bills and telling him they need to cut back and watch their spending. Bobby grabs a juice box. At the peak of this scene, Bobby’s Dad calls and immediately, he goes into the pose and lies to his Dad – says “work’s going great”. She’s the responsible one. She’s the adult. She’s telling him to cut back, stop getting the Porsche detailed and playing so much golf. He is presenting. He’s still presenting this aura of “I am successful” and frankly, he won’t face the truth. Bobby says in here “I don’t need a cushion”.
In the next scene, his wife has taken the next responsible step of calling a realtor to sell the house so they can downsize. Again, she’s the adult. He’s in denial. He’s a child. “We’re not selling. We’re not going to get stuck.”
Bobby goes for a job interview. He’s incensed that he has to wait in the lobby for so long. There’s a job but it isn’t the one he wants. The job he has applied for has been filled but there is a regional sales manager job available in Little Rock making about 1/2 of what he was making. He’s furious and screams at the interviewer (and the world), “I am highly qualified”. I am! This is the boy in him coming out, the kid that didn’t get picked for the team at school and has settled in an agreement about himself.
Bobby is finally exposed at the family Thanksgiving. The poser is revealed and that great fear he had been hiding was laid out right in front of his brother-in-law. With all the family present and Bobby still telling everyone that he’s working, his little girl lifts her father to God – “Let my Daddy get a job” and BOOM he’s exposed. The lie he’d been carrying is now out there for all to see. His brother-in-law – in an act of true grace in a rotten economy – comes to him and offers him a job working on his construction team. Bobby’s response? “I don’t see myself pounding nails”.
Bobby’s wife approaches him about selling the house and taking the job. She tip-toes into this. She’s careful to not run over him but she’s still being the adult, still the one saying, “we need to do something, you need to get a job”. She’s affirming him as a man, calling to his masculinity – almost saying, “Rise up, you can do this. Rescue us”. He shuts her down. Still in denial.
Here is where his denial peaks. This is when the rubber meets the road and he’s finally smacked with the harsh reality. He’s at the golf course – the classic pose. Unemployed, about to get foreclosed on, wife has gone back to work and he’s still driving the Porsche to the Country Club. He’s pulled off the course. She’s canceled the CC membership – they cannot afford it. Bobby is now exposed to the CC crowd.
Furious, Bobby confronts Maggie at work with “how dare you cancel our Country Club membership”. Maggie come back at him – “This is real Bobby. This is happening to us. You’re wandering around like you’re in some sort of daze, playing golf, getting the Porsche detailed.” Bobby – “Maggie I need to look successful. I can’t look like just another asshole with a resume.” I need to look successful. And then, “I’m a 37 year old loser who can’t support my family”. The poser cries out – I must be heard.
Finally, it happens. Finally, the poser is broken. Sometimes God has to really disrupt your life to get your attention. He learns his son has given back his XBOX back because the kid realized they couldn’t afford it. Bobby is slammed. The kid is an adult and Bobby’s the child and the whole story changes. Goes to Jack and asks for a job. He spends his first day on the job carrying lumber up four flights of stairs. The Porsche is gone and a beaten up Lumina takes its place. Bobby has new boots and a new belt but he’s not ready for prime time and all he’s good for is hauling lumber. But…it’s a job. Jack pays him an extra $200. Jack the jerk is rescuing Bobby. He’s fathering him.
The new Bobby emerges. He’s learning how to do the job. He’s using his hands. He’s filthy and sweaty. He goes to bat for his friend and fights for him and gets him a job. No longer self-absorbed Jack is working overtime to get the job done by the deadline so they can get their bonus. Bobby learns that Jack underbid the job to just keep them all working through the winter and needs the bonus just to break-even. Bobby is being shown the things a true man will do for the benefit of others.
Bobby’s former boss is starting a new shipyard. He’s calling out to Bobby to catch the vision. “We used to make something here. These men were building something they could see – not just figures on a balance sheet. Something they could see, smell. Those men knew who they were, they knew their worth.” This is now Bobby – he no longer relies on a balance sheet, he knows what it means to build something, he knows he now has what it takes and no longer needs to rely upon the pose.
The poser is gone. He’s grown up, responsible. He apologizes to Maggie and owns his part. Living with his parents, he’s been totally taken apart and is being rebuilt. He is real and free for the first time and as Maggie says, “you were never here before.” Bobby’s restored. He stops to play hoops with his son. He’s engaged. He’s involved. His priorities are in order. He’s teaching his kids as he’s helping them build the tree house. Offered a job to start a new shipbuilding firm, he goes to Jack – who is working on Sunday – and admits to Jack, “I was scared all the time”. The poser is dead. He’s willing to be real and true and authentic.
Do you see it? Do you see how the poser just automatically boots up? Do you see how Bobby had come to rely upon his false-self? Do you see how the “real Bobby” was totally buried?
This is what posing does. It buries the true you beneath the veneer of “I’ve got it all under control.” There is great, great freedom in authenticity and not having to pose. There is great freedom and letting it go and discovering the real you, the one God made and the one God adores. Let it go and let God father you.
So what is it with you? Where are you posing? How does posing separate you from friends, your wife and more importantly, from God? Dig into this and see what God exposes.