No short cuts. John Eldredge was riding with Morgan in the truck coming back from a hunt. “There are no shortcuts in the masculine journey. No shortcuts in the kingdom of God.” Morgan thought to himself, “this can’t possibly be true”. Two decades later, he sees it.
“Today’s western world lives and breathes a gospel of “now”. Instant gratification is the way of our culture; it is the norm, the expectation. This gospel has deeply infiltrated authentic Christianity, and the desire to have it our way and to have it “now” is toxic to becoming restored as a man of strength, integrity, and wholeness.”
The culture values “now” and “immediate”. Wisdom takes the long view. I took up deer hunting about a dozen years ago. I watched those Realtree hunting videos on the Outdoor Channel with Bill Jordan sitting in a tree in Iowa killing massive bucks that seemed to just walk right up under his stand. That’s what I wanted. I wanted the big buck…easy. It just doesn’t work that way. I hunted hard for 3-4 years before I first pulled the trigger. I had a LOT to learn. Had I killed a big buck that first year in my first stand, it would have been too easy and frankly, too cheap.
“Easy” isn’t authentic. If it comes too easy, too quick, it is cheap and typically it won’t last. A 28-year old isn’t equipped to the be the CEO of Aflac. A 35-year old isn’t ready to pastor a mega-church with a dozen campuses and a national outreach. It’s too much, too fast. Jacob, Joseph, Daniel, Moses, Abraham – the Bible is full of the stories of men who had to wait, who needed time to develop the tools necessary to do what God was calling them to do. Matthew 7:14 says, “small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” We want to be men of the “few”. Men that are willing to consent to the process of the slow and steady becoming.
Step 1 to this is embracing failure. In my work, in deer hunting, in my marriage, in learning how to plant a garden, in leading Manschool, I have failed many times. The very nature of my work is that I will fail … a lot. The goal is to win a lot more than I fail and to learn from my failures. We try things and sometimes they don’t work. Truthfully, they fall flat. But we keep pushing boundaries and learning and growing. As I have aged in this process of becoming, I have learned it is good to tell you that I’ve failed many times. But also, I’ve learned that I am no longer afraid to take chances. That’s a good thing. Even holy. But when I fail, I no longer rush to shame or even contempt for myself. I don’t curse myself with “I knew it” rather I hear the Father say, “Let me teach you though this one”.
Morgan says, “Most men stop at failure. When we operate as orphans or from a place of self-sufficiency, we often cannot muster the strength to move through failure. Yet as we consent to the process of becoming a king, we will in time find ourselves among a fellowship of the like-hearted who have faced failure and not given in – people who have let failure be a faithful guide and a fuel for the better deeper things waiting for us beyond failure’s limited view.”
Bottom line – we can focus on our past failures and think we are not worthy to lead and unable to make a change. Or we can try in the present and when we fail – and we will – we can shut down in shame. Brian Tome rides dirt bikes all the time and he said he still falls … a lot. It isn’t “if” you will fall, it is “when”. The key is to learn from each fall, and he says he falls a LOT less today than he did five years ago.
“Credit belongs to the man in the arena, whose face is marred by dust, sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming. The man who at best knows the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”
What matters the most, what counts in Wisdom’s long view, is the willingness to risk and enter the arena. It is to spend yourself on a worthy cause with courage and action, knowing that inevitably there will be moments of error, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming. Daring greatly is of high value, regardless of the failure or success of the endeavor. It’s the only thing we take with us from this world. It’s what God gets out of our lives: the person we have become. Live in the day and measure in the decade.
We’ve “heard” from a lot men this fall and in their own way, they’re all telling us the same thing …