That’s a funny word – ownership. To one who has never known real ownership, the word conjures up imagery that might indicate mere possession of a thing whose fate is at the whim of the owner who has all the power of determination, like a slave owner. The owner can possess a thing and enjoy it while it’s pristine and new and discard it when the honeymoon has passed and utility worn down. No, ownership is deeper than the “belongs to” idea.
In this “What Men Need” series, I’ve discussed that men must vigorously spend themselves in labor in order to find/develop their highest and best contribution to society. This mental, physical, spiritual quest is a competition for limited resources which requires engagement and where God has established a platform to draw forth your best effort towards growth. In part 2, money is an accounting between a journey and a destination to be navigated, balanced between self interest and greed, and time managed like Odysseus between Scylla and Charybdis. So therefore, man must come to a useful relationship with money. Furthermore, in part 3, I described that men need other men to provide needed inputs – “No man is an island”, said John Donne. He continued that when the bell tolls to come to aid of your fellow man, “never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.” Which is to say, men need other men to grow. It is in the combination of these things that men endeavor in great strivings or in casual meanderings to find themselves. And in the finding, men can come to a peace and self respect that they have been a Good and Faithful Servant to God’s potential. This takes decades.
And if that were all, then that would be much. But there’s more.
Take each of the four elements mentioned and dash them to the rocks and what happens? Lose your job? Oh well, I’ll work at Starbucks and get a government food card. Get swamped with debt? Chapter 13 and laugh at creditors. Can’t gather friends? No big, I’ve still got a cyber-life. Self respect? For fools. These responses are nails on a chalkboard to one who cares, who’s engaged, one who sees that human potential must be challenged, expanded, and fulfilled.
Gentlemen, a man needs to take a stand in life, to own the risk of failure, to engage fully and be willing to get hurt, to extend love to another with the prospect it won’t be reciprocated, to take on responsibilities without assurance of its wisdom, to declare loyalty to men, to outcomes, to God. And risk of failure isn’t just a solitary thing. When you try and fail and your wife and children are negatively affected, then risk is a weighty thing. But regardless, man must risk, as TR says, “so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”
The imagery of ownership that I hold is one of a tree that roots itself in life as a declaration: “I will stand here”. The tree strives for nutrients below while always reaching its arms ever upward. A tree that flexes in a storm while providing cover for those who need the stability. A tree provides food, shade, oxygen, and energy. It is a beacon, a place to meet, on whose arms a child swings.
Men need to take a stand in order to be counted. The love of a woman is earned by a man who owns himself, his relationships, his family, his outcomes. The self respect a man pursues can only be found on the other side of weighty responsibility. So gentlemen, to you I say…