Posts tagged responsibility

What’s up with ‘man up ?’

“Man up.” When you hear the phrase, what comes to mind?

  • Taking responsibility?
  • Acting courageously?
  • Showing toughness?

Apparently some Duke University students consider “man up” akin to profanity, or even worse, as a form of verbal bullying. man up

A series of posters going up around the Duke campus are a joint creative venture of two student groups, each geared toward encouraging students to be sensitive to co-eds who have a different lifestyle than them. Each poster features a different disparaging word or phrase that’s a staple of a typical college student’s vocabulary. Most are sexual in nature and just plain vulgar.

As I looked over all the other posters, I couldn’t figure out how “man up” rose to the offensiveness level of all the other pejorative phrases.

Then it occurred to me: in their way of thinking any phrases that refer to a standard for masculinity (or femininity) are wrong. Therefore, the phrase “man up” is sexist and degrading. Unfortunately, in their attempt to discourage gender-based negative labeling, the Duke students have overlooked the positive connotation of the phrase “man up.”

Guys need to be called up to embrace the way they’re made. The more science comes to understand, the more it confirms that men and women are inherently different. Even as young children, girls tend to play more relationally with each other, while boys play alongside or even in competition with each other. Girls’ activities more likely gravitate toward nurturing and relationship-building, while boys are more active in exploring the world, pushing the limits and themselves.

As they grow to adulthood, men want to be respected more for what they achieve, women more for who they are. When a man doesn’t accept responsibility, doesn’t look out for the best interests of others (especially his family), or buckles under moderate pressure, it’s perfectly appropriate to tell him to “man up.” Because responsibility, courage, and service are what a man does.

Contrary to how the posters characterize it, manhood doesn’t imply superiority to womanhood, or prohibit publicly showing emotion. It’s kind of ironic when you think about it. What would a good man do if he heard someone being demeaned in a way described in many of the Duke posters. He’d “man up” by standing up for the attacked and against the attacker. A good woman might not jump into the middle of a fight, but she’d almost certainly come alongside the victim to comfort and console.

I commend the Duke students for standing up against bullying and inhumane treatment of individuals. But they’d do well to “wise up” to the fact that differences between men and women are a good and natural thing worth standing up for.

A father, a son, and a lifelong lesson

lifelong lesson - Stepping Up

Bob Helvey, one of my colleagues here at FamilyLife, tells a great story about another father who stepped up and was intentional in training his son with a lifelong lesson.

When Bob was 10, he was a paperboy, and on one cold Virginia night, a gust of wind knocked him off his bike. Then he watched in shock as his bundle of newspapers came apart and blew away.  At that point, this boy had a choice: He could step up, be responsible, and retrieve all the papers, or he could give up and go home.  Bob did what boys do — he pedaled home.

When he arrived, his father said, “You sure finished your paper route early.” Bob explained what had happened, and then his father said, “Get your coat, Son, and meet me in the car.”

They drove to the scene of the crime, and Bob felt some satisfaction when he didn’t see any newspaper pages on the ground. But his dad parked and told Bob to follow him. They walked to a nearby house, where they were greeted by a man who invited them inside. There Bob was confronted with an amazing sight — an entire room full of newspaper pages! With hardly a word, the two men helped the young boy piece every newspaper back together. Then Bob proceeded to complete his paper route with his father as chauffeur.

A Lifelong Lesson

That character lesson was so powerful that Bob wrote about it 40 years later in a tribute to his father. “It was a little annoying that Dad didn’t give me a lecture,” Bob wrote. “He knew he didn’t have to. The everlasting warmth I felt of a difficult task completed, a duty fulfilled, was its own mentor.”  Bob wondered how his dad had known just where to go that day. Years later he learned that, after the accident, the neighbor had called his father to complain about his “good for nothing” son. “Together they conspired to teach a young boy a lifelong lesson,” Bob wrote. “It worked. The neighbor must have been a father too.”

God gives us a unique opportunity as fathers to join Him in what has to be one of the most noble, transcendent assignments we’ll ever have as men: He gives us the privilege of joining with Him in shaping the next generation of men. But we won’t fulfill those responsibilities unless we’re willing to step up and be intentional in how we raise our sons.

Copyright (c) 2014 FamilyLife.

STEPSeek - 10-point checklistYou just read a post by Dennis Rainey, “A father, a son, and a lifelong lesson” on the Stepping Up blog.

STEPThink - 10-point checklistWilliam Bennett, author of The Book of Man, talks about his shaping influences as a boy on FamilyLife Today.

STEPEmbrace - 10-point checklistBuilding character starts with “Modeling Integrity to Your Child.” Read the article on

STEPPass - 10-point checklistThis story is featured in Stepping Up™  video series. Consider leading a father-son group through Stepping Up.

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