Men: Find What Matters Most for the Rest of Your Life
- Tuesday, November 13, 2007
Editor's Note: The following is a report on the practical applications of Stephen Arterburn & John Shore's new book, Midlife Manual for Men: Finding Significance in the Second Half, (Bethany House, 2007).
When you hit midlife, it’s natural to look back at what you’ve experienced so far. You may discover that, with about half of your life already behind you, you haven’t done all you’d hoped to do, or become the kind of man you’d like to be.
But a midlife crisis isn’t inevitable. Rather than quitting your job, buying a motorcycle, and leaving your family behind to ride off into the sunset, you can discover what truly matters most. Then you can live based on that, to make the rest of your life better than anything you’ve experienced before.
Here’s how to build the rest of your life around what matters most:
Accept change. Acknowledge and embrace the changes that have occurred to the various important roles you play: son, husband, provider, and father. Your parents raised you, but you now may find that you need to care for your parents. Your marriage relationship is likely much different now than it was when you got married years ago. You may feel an urge to change careers or even consider retirement. Perhaps you’ve enjoyed fatherhood, only to realize that your children grew up quicker than you’d expected. In prayer, honestly express your thoughts and feelings about the changes you’ve experienced. Ask God to help you accept them and learn everything He wants you to learn from them.
Get rid of unrealistic macho expectations. Now that you’re older, you’re wise enough to realize that being a man doesn’t necessarily mean that: you know everything, you’re a magnet for women, you’re in complete control of your emotions, you make a ton of money, you’re exceptionally wise, you’re naturally athletic, you can expect everything to go exactly as you planned it, you don’t mind physical pain, or you know all about cars and other machines. Forget about trying to be Superman and just be who you are.
Give up your sense of entitlement. Just because our society still sometimes makes men feel superior to women – and therefore entitled to more control, power, and privileges – realize that you’re completely equal with women, and not entitled to take selfish advantage of whatever power you have. Let this time in your life be one of learning how to respect others and growing in maturity.
Stop suppressing your emotions. Discover how to identify your emotions, give them serious credibility, and express them well to others.
Don’t go it alone anymore. Whenever something is bothering you a lot, don’t attempt to handle it on your own. Seek the support you need from your wife or a trusted friend or family member.
Recognize that all your power comes from God. Don’t be fooled anymore by the mistaken idea that you’re the source of your own power. Acknowledge that everything you do – even taking your next breath – you do because God graciously allows you to do it. Let your gratitude motivate you to use the power you have faithfully (such as by trying to make a positive difference in the world) rather than abusing it.
Take your responsibilities seriously. Now you have the experience to know that committing yourself to do something is a serious thing. Don’t make promises you can’t keep. Remember that your words and actions have important consequences.
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