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Initiative Is the Essence of Manhood

It’s time for men to begin step up courageously and take the initiative as husbands and fathers.

By Dennis Rainey

“Once upon a time, men wore the pants, and wore them well. Women rarely had to open doors and little old ladies never had to cross the street alone. Men took charge because that’s what they did. But somewhere along the way, the world decided it no longer needed men. Disco by disco, latte by foamy non-fat latte, men were stripped of their khakis and left stranded on the road between boyhood and androgyny. But today there are questions our genderless society has no answers for. The world sits idly by as cities crumble, children misbehave and those little old ladies remain on one side of the street. For the first time since bad guys, we need heroes. We need grownups. We need men to put down the plastic fork, step away from the salad bar, and untie the world from the tracks of complacency. It’s time to get your hands dirty. It’s time to answer the call of manhood. It’s time to wear the pants.”

–From an advertisement for Dockers jeans

Initiative is the essence of manhood. Nothing comes to the man who is passive ... nothing … except failure.

Men were not designed by God to be spectators, sitting on the sidelines. Real men embrace responsibility rather than making excuses and look for solutions instead of casting blame.

Why is it that some men initiate great tasks and conquer overwhelming obstacles at work and remain so passive in relationships or in leading at home? It’s like it’s a disease that infects the male species.

One successful business leader confessed to me, “I can lead my company of several hundred employees to accomplish our goals, but as I look at my four children seated around the dinner table, I don’t know how to lead them in what the Bible says about how they are to live their lives.” He went on, “It scares me to death.”

Over the years I’ve done a little inventory of my own life; I’ve listed some of my own lame excuses for why I haven’t initiated.

Excuse #1: “Taking the initiative is hard work and I’m tired.”

I hate to admit this, but pure selfishness is the cause of most of my passivity. In years past, after solving problems at work I just wanted to go home and vegetate, watch television, and not get involved with the smaller issues such as cleaning up the kitchen, helping with homework, or putting the kids to bed. And I certainly didn’t want to deal with the bigger issues such as repairing a breach in my relationship with my wife or addressing a disciplinary issue with a child.

On multiple occasions, I pried myself out of my easy chair and into situations that I would rather have ignored. Being a man involves pain. Initiative demands courage, sacrifice, and self-denial.

Excuse #2: “I don’t know how to initiate.”

When I was single, developing a relationship with a woman felt risky. The learning curve was steep. Later, as a husband, at times I found it easy to abdicate leadership to my wife. As a dad I knew I needed to develop a relationship with my daughters and take them on dates, but what were we supposed to talk about? Other responsibilities, like having a “birds and bees” conversation with my children, were awkward and easy to rationalize putting off until sometime in the future.

All men need other men in their lives who will put their arms around his shoulder and encourage to “do the hard thing.” One of THE most challenging things I did as a dad was to interview the young men who asked my daughters to go on a date. It was also one of the most rewarding things that I did. One young man that I interviewed said, “Mr. Rainey, I hope God gives me the privilege of protecting my daughter like you are doing by talking to me.”

Excuse #3: “Taking the initiative means I might fail.”

It may mean I’ve already failed and it’s easier not to risk failing again. Whether it was asking a young lady out on a date when I was single, or leading my wife in planning, discussing the family budget, hammering out boundaries and discipline for the children, or just the basics of leading my family, I found that the fear of failure created a huge