Written by Micah Taylor
This weekend Johnny approached me at a wedding–well he didn’t so much approach me as he just yelled to me as we were dancing next to each other during some song about raining dollar bills on less than reputable women–and asked if I would write a guest entry for this blog. I agreed, and asked Johnny what type of content he was looking for.
“Anything about beards or manliness,” he said.
“Wait, aren’t the two mutually exclusive?”
We laughed. And y’know, while that running joke among men who can actually grow facial hair is all well and good, the truth is, it’s rather unfortunate that genetics alone don’t determine what makes a man. Unfortunate because, if that were the case, I wouldn’t have to try so hard to live up to an actual standard of manliness every day, I could just wake up and be good to go. But alas, there is a standard, and it’s not measured in beard length.
So your beard–or your bench max, or your car’s top speed, or the price of your “timepiece”–is not the measure of manliness. In fact, there are plenty of men who I consider a shining example of manhood who can’t grow a sprout of facial hair. I can’t think of a single one right now, but they’re out there. I can also think of plenty of bearded men who are just destructive little boys in a man’s body. What then, defines a man?
Well, here are a few things I believe, fundamentally, any real man is (and ladies, stick around for this read, because here are things to look for in a man):
- A cultivator.
In Genesis 2 we see God showing man how to create and then tasking him with the responsibility of cultivating–that is to promote and improve growth by labor and attention. It starts with a garden (Genesis 2.15) then moves to people (Matthew 28.19). The concept is that you work to make something better. Whish brings me to my next characteristic…
- A worker.
Men should not be defined by their jobs. However, men should be judged on their work ethic. So what you have your masters degree in rocket science and have applied to a few places. If it’s been a month and still no job and you spend the majority of your days watching episodes of Game of Thrones, you are a failure. I don’t care if you have a doctorate degree and twelve years of experience, working at Best Buy or waiting tables at a TGI Fridays is not beneath you, because work is not beneath you. So get a job, or go build a house in your free time, or volunteer to scrub the floors at a retirement home. Just do some work.
- A meat eater.
Animals are for food. Plain and simple. I can get behind the mentality that there are living hunks of food who are improperly treated by unethical companies in an industry that does not deserve our support. So don’t eat at McDonalds then. If that’s your conviction, there’s a great farm-to-table movement that assures you that each cow, chicken, and pig is raised in a humane environment and treated like family all the way up to the time it hits your plate. Support this. Or go respectfully kill a wild deer. One minute it’s a free animal living without a worry in the wild, the next minute it’s tasty food on your plate providing nourishment for you and your family. I really can’t think of a better way to go out. I hope I get the honor of such a death.
- A lover.
Lover does not mean man whore. I hate that the word has taken on some twisted sleazy Casanova vibe. But simply, I mean a man who shows love and compassion to everyone. Who resorts first to words, not violence. Who seeks out the good of others rather than selfish gain.
Well, that’s about all the space I have. But I’ll leave you with a picture of my wife and me. Yes, she is way out of my league. And yes, the beard did help, but it clearly wouldn’t have been enough. This is proof that if you chase after being the right things, someone might accidentally think you’re a real man after all.