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3 lame excuses for why I don’t initiate


The Courage to Initiate

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

Men are not meant to be spectators. Real men accept responsibility rather than making excuses and look for solutions instead of casting blame. They reject the “I’m a victim, so let me off the hook” mentality and find a way to push ahead through the storm. On the other hand, the disengaged man, whether single or married, will settle for diluted, bland maleness. Life happens to him; he doesn’t happen to life. His expectations are low. And so are his achievements. I hope you’re not counting on him. I hope you’re not him.

Abdicating their roles

Some men demonstrate more courage in their jobs than they do in their families. A friend recently made an observation about a neighbor and expressed questions about why some men don’t step up at home:

Rebecca is in her late thirties and is married to Bill, a man in his early forties who is a successful CEO of the leading oil company in a Middle Eastern country. Bill was a U.S. oil-company exec when they met fifteen years ago; then they moved [to the Middle East], had children (his second family), and raised them until they started school. Rebecca [and their children] moved back to the U.S. to get the younger son, who has ADHD issues, the right educational environment. For the past five to seven years, she’s lived here, and Bill has visited about once every month or two — it seems to work for them. However, the boys are growing, now twelve and fourteen and out of control, and she can’t handle the virtual single-mom thing anymore. Finally, Bill announced last month that he’s stepping down from his international gig and coming home to spend more time with the family. Everyone is excited. His twenty-two-year-old daughter by a previous marriage is posting the news to her Facebook page — “Dad’s coming back!” Sounds like he’s finally agreeing to engage in the family he supports financially, right? No. Yesterday I learned that the twelve year-old son is being shipped off to military prep school, and Dad is considering a new job in Ireland. Jaw dropping.

Why is it that some men can initiate great tasks and conquer overwhelming obstacles at work, yet remain passive in relationships or in leading at home? It’s as if there’s a disease that infects the male species. None of us is exempt from the passivity virus. Over the years I’ve done a little inventory of my life and listed some of my own lame excuses for why I haven’t taken the initiative when faced with a duty or challenge:

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

I hate to admit this, but pure selfishness and laziness have been the cause of most of my passivity. In years past, after solving problems at work, I just wanted to vegetate, watch television, and not get involved with cleaning up the kitchen, helping with homework, or putting the kids to bed. And I certainly didn’t want to deal with 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’ve had to pry myself out of my easy chair and into situations that I would rather have ignored. Being a man will involve pain. Initiative requires sacrifice and self-denial.

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

When I was single, developing a relationship with a woman was risky. The learning curve was steep, and there was always the fear of rejection. Later, as a husband, at times I found it easier 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, such as having a “birds and bees” conversation with my children, were awkward and easy to rationalize putting off until sometime in the future.

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

Or 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, hammering out boundaries and discipline for the children — or just dealing with the basics of leading my family, I found that the fear of failure creates a gravitational pull toward passivity. But real men take action. And when they do, great things can happen.

So, men, what is it for you?  Do you have some “lame” excuses that you’ve used or maybe continue to use to keep from being real men who accept responsibility?  What is it that today you can say “no” to or “yes” to that would be a departure from yesterday and be a step toward initiating leadership in your family?

Adapted from Stepping Up, by Dennis Rainey. © 2011 by FamilyLife Publishing. All rights reserved.

STEPSeek - 10-point checklistYou just finished reading “3 lame excuses for why I don’t initiate” by Dennis Rainey on the Stepping Up men’s blog 

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  1. October 10, 2012    

    This is an EXCELLENT blog today! It seems that passivity is being passed down to men these days and is a huge issue with the “Entitlement Generation” that is so prevalent in our society! Guys, get off you butt and get busy! Excuses are the devils work!

  2. October 10, 2012    

    I’ve had the pleasure of leading a Stepping Up Men’s group in my small community… It’s been a blessing watching these men of all ages start making the stand on evil and passivity! Fight The Good Fight in Every Choice!

  3. October 10, 2012    

    Thanks, Rick Knea and Dustin Snodgrass for your comments. Rick, it is time for us to “step up” and accept the responsibility that God has given us as men. We need to see it as a privilege and something that can only be accomplished by and through God’s power.

  4. October 10, 2012    

    Dustin Snodgrass, So cool that you already lead a small group through the study. Are you considering, as a church, to participate in the Feb 2 event? Would love to hear more “story” as you are able to share about the impact of the study on the men in your group. Again, well done!!

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