The True Measure of a Man

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It’s something he has to work on.

“There are three types of people in this world: those who make things happen, those who watch things happen, and those who wonder what happened.” This has been attributed to Mary Kay Ash, though there is evidence it originated with Nicholas Murray Butler. 

Regardless, after 50 years of hard work, Mary Kay Ash built Mary Kay Inc., a cosmetics empire valued at $2.7 billion, employing a 3.5 million salesforce worldwide (2015) inspired by those words. While she has since passed on, her cosmetics company is both a legacy of what she worked tirelessly and creatively to build, and a stunning rebuttal to what is still a very popular trope within the feminist/woke community: namely that women are oppressed, underpaid, and prevented from competing on an equal footing with men in the business world. Each one in the sales force still has the same opportunity to climb to the top of the ladder in Mary Kay, by selling enough product to gain access to a brand-new pink Cadillac.

What does Mary Kay’s proverb teach us these days? Well, it’s no longer certain. After fifty years, and at least a hundred pink Cadillacs—plus hundreds of other GM cars for performance bonuses, the world has moved on. The values we once shared an d cherished are no longer even discussed. But her maxim for achieving success is still very insightful, yet it’s really nothing new. Even the scriptures extol the virtues and rewards for hard work—particularly if our hard work is for the benefit of others. Is Ash’s success story an anomaly, or is it a period of Americana that’s no longer possible? Because it’s just not fashionable anymore. It’s really difficult to overcome the obstacles of a fragmenting social and cultural arena. Maybe people—especially men, have grown too discouraged or too lazy to really try.

  • Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint. (Isaiah 40:30-31)

It’s not about working hard that brings reward, it’s about the work that brings meaning and benefit to others as much as, or more than to ourselves. Ash accumulated a vast fortune for herself and her family, but she also created a legion of successful and gratified women; many of whom were housewives looking to contribute to the household income, while others used the experience to build successful careers and businesses of their own.

Once, home and family were wedded to a vastly different paradigm: The bread winners were our dads, and their hard work was both beneficial and honorable.

That was then and this is now. Today, office workers who migrated during the government lockdowns three years ago have not fully returned, and the impact on office real estate is significant. But the fact that 2.6% or more of whom we call white collar workers have simply moved on and out, is stunning. I believe there are many big reasons for this, and some have biblical importance.

  • “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.” (Colossians 3:23-25 ESV)

The paradigm in which we now live has taken generations to create. Some will disagree, but it wasn’t all that long ago—when I was a boy—that the home and family were still wedded to a vastly different one: namely the bread winners (a very dated expression to be sure) were our dads, and their hard work ethic was honored as much as it was beneficial. The age of the two-income family began during my childhood, and I witnessed it myself.

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Got Questions has this to say about work, “God instituted work with creation, prior to the fall of Adam. Genesis 2:15 says, ‘The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.’ After Adam and Eve sinned, work became toil (Genesis 3:17-19), but work itself is included in the ‘very good’ part of creation.” (Genesis 1:31)

Along with the loss of his place as the master of his own home, a man has also suffered the loss of his dignity and his true masculinity. The trend started in the seventies and fully blossomed in the late eighties. The exemplar of this “new man” is literally a cartoon. Bishop Robert Barron (pictured) describes him in this Bishop Barron and the Homer Simpson Effect video saying, “I’m a big fan of Homer Simpson’s antics, but how his home is presented is [where] the father of the family is pretty much non-stop stupid, boorish, drunk, irresponsible, comically incompetent, [and] childish right? Now contrast him with his wife Marge who is intelligent, morally responsible, decent, [and] good.”

This trend, it’s argued, is the result of the sexual revolution’s impact on the stereotyping of women in previous generations as “fragile damsels.”  To say that it is a mischaracterization is putting it mildly. After decades of militant feminism, masculinity is now considered a pathology by the American Psychiatric Association. This, not so surprisingly has made some men confused, frustrated, and—you guessed it—angry. The extent of this trajectory has taken us to the “manosphere.” This is the new term for a broad, loose collection of influencers like Andrew Tate and Justin Waller. These “influencers” are men who regard women as useful tools for social and sexual conquest. They are anti-feminists—a result of the constant pressure placed on them to conform to something they can never be. Do the feminists who said, “A woman needs man, like a fish needs a bicycle,” really think this would end well?

At turns out, these polemics have created a serious—and seriously flawed—impact on how women think politically. While they have long tended to be “liberal,” women are now trending hard left. Men, on the other hand, are trending to the right. Yet, they have this in common: they remain single longer, marry later in life—if at all; have fewer children late in their marriage—if they have any at all, and they leave their marriages and their children all too easily. In the vast majority of single parent families, dad is the one missing.

I can’t help but wonder what would happen if mature Christians would work harder to be the influencers Jesus commissioned us to be in this crazy, mixed up situation. Yes, to be the influencers Jesus Christ would have us be for sake of our children, for our women… and certainly for our men. 

Males and females are not identical. We are biologically, psychologically, and emotionally distinct. This is not in any sense a bad thing; God called His original creation, which included distinct sexes “very good.” Genders are a psycho-sociological construct created in the 1960s by Dr. John Money

  • God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning—the sixth day. (Genesis 1:31 NIV) I think we need to take a rest from all this insanity.

Photo by Sage Friedman on Unsplash 

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views the Virginia Christian Alliance

About the Author

Shenandoah Christian Alliance
Shenandoah Christian Alliance is a Christian organization devoted to the promotion and education of biblical truths, faith, and spiritual equipping. We believe in the sanctity of marriage as defined in God’s revealed word. We oppose the practice of abortion, and respectfully object to its funding and facilitation as currently promoted by our elected leaders. We understand homosexuality to be something that God—whom we worship and honor—does not approve among his creation. Our faith in God as revealed in scripture is not something we are ashamed of, or for which we must apologize.