I was on the way to church this weekend and I heard a song on the radio that caught my attention. I can’t remember the name of the song but one of the verses talked about how fear, anxiety, and guilt were keeping the songwriter from being the man he wanted to be. I think that is true for almost all of us. We live in a state of fear that paralyzes us from being the best we can be. Fear keeps us from being too involved, too vulnerable, and too exposed.
I think men often times can be looked at like storefront windows. We want what appears in the window to be very neat, tidy, and attractive. The fear is that men do not want anyone to come inside the store and see what state the inside of the store is in. There might be a spill on Aisle 3 or a whole rack of things in the back corner that needs to be cleared out. It may be that where we want our storefront to look like Saks Fifth Avenue the inside may look like a Goodwill store. We want to be the hero, the strong one in the storm, the homerun hitter, and the savior for what ails you. What we fear is that our superhero status is only about a quarter of an inch deep and that someone will see us for who we really are.
So, let’s look at some things that men fear today.
Every man worries about being inadequate. He worries that one day his wife, coworkers, or friends will lose trust in his talent, smarts, or abilities. He wonders if he really has the stuff to succeed for the long haul. He worries that his mistakes in the past may prove to be too much for him to overcome.
Loss of Control
I think this one is best characterized by saying that a man doesn’t like to be caged. If a man feels like he is being controlled, he will move toward feeling deflated and disinterested until he finally shuts down. I think I read an article by John Eldridge one time that used the example of a tiger in a cage and how the tiger was not allowed to do what he was meant to be when he was locked in a cage. If a man feels like he is being pushed out of a role of leadership he will often concede the role without much of a fight. He either is willing to let someone else take on a role that he is not being appreciated for or feeling unequipped to keep the role.
A man feels a large role for him is as a provider. So, it should come as no surprise that he fears that he will not be able to provide the money necessary for long term security for the family. Men often get tagged with the remark that they only care about the money. They may feel like they need to pursue higher paying jobs and positions higher up the chain in their workplaces even at the expense of time with their family in order to be a “better” provider. He worries he will not be able to provide enough income for his family to live at the level he hopes for.
A man worries that he is going to go through life and find out at the end that he made no impact. There is a fear for a man that he is just spending his life running on a hamster wheel and that the miles that he has run on that hamster wheel will not amount to much at the end of his life. While the biggest legacy will be how they were as a husband and father, some men make wild plays to run for the cage door and strike out to pursue risky adventures that are at best hit or miss and put their family role in jeopardy.
Men often see their worth by their job position. Going back to how we talked about men looking at themselves as providers, it is no wonder that when a man loses his job or has fear about losing his job he has a great fear that will make him question his place and value. He may be in a very niche field where the loss may mean he has to change locations to continue his career or even change professions to gain new employment.
Men often times worry about if they are a good Dad. Are they being the right example for their children? Are they making decisions when things come up in their kids’ lives that will help them grow into adults? Are they being too strong or too weak when punishing their kids for disobedience? Are they giving their kids everything that they need to succeed? Are we doing the things we need to do to shape our daughter into a woman and our boy into a man?
Men don’t like to talk about death, but we fear it. With most women living longer than men, as a man gets older he has to wonder if he is going to leave a firm foundation for his wife and family if he was to die. Is he going to go through a long process of heavy trials before passing away or will he go in a blink of an eye? This is another area where men don’t want to be seen as weak but an area where weakness is almost inevitable.
Men fear being exposed as a fraud. A man has so many times that he is not proud of his thoughts, his actions, or his attitude. We conceal as much as we can but often times we feel stained. It would be kind of like having a tattoo that we didn’t want someone to know about. We do everything we can to try to protect ourselves from being exposed or seen for who we really are. So, we miss out a lot of times on fellowship, friendship, and intimacy to protect our storefront.
This one is kind of tricky. You are probably saying that affection can’t be a fear for a man. I think the best way to explain this would be to say that men often do not allow their wife to know how much their love and affection plays a role in their lives. Much like the others we have talked about, we try to let our strong outside persona be the storefront. Unfortunately, we also are unwilling to let our wife know that she is the only one who really knows our heart. We also fail to let our wife know that their companionship and friendship mean more to us than they would ever realize. Men have friends that they like to do things with but in reality they usually only are a speck compared to the needs a man has for his wife’s affection. He would rarely admit that, though.
I don’t think this one is necessarily tied only to men but I think men have a huge fear of change. The idea of change can cripple a man and make him take forever to make a decision. Change creates fear and change can create chaos to a man. I know that sometimes the fear of change can inhibit growth. I know that is true, but a man looks at change as an attack on his strong image. It creates an area where he feels vulnerable and not in control.
To finish this post, I would like to leave you with some verses (ESV) dealing with fear.
When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. – Psalm 56:3
Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord you God is with you wherever you go. – Joshua 1:9
Anxiety in a man’s heart weighs him down, but a good word makes him glad. – Proverbs 12:25
Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble. – Matthew 6:34
And he said to his disciples, “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat, nor about your body, what you will put on. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing. Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds! And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? If then you are not able to do as small a thing as that, why are you anxious about the rest? – Luke 12:22-26
Of David. The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? When evildoers assail me to eat up my flesh, my adversaries and foes, it is they who stumble and fall. Though an army encamp against me, my heart shall not fear; though war arise against me, yet I will be confident. One thing have I asked of the Lord, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to inquire in his temple. For he will hide me in his shelter in the day of trouble; he will conceal me under the cover of his tent; he will lift me high upon a rock. .. – Psalm 27:1-14
This list of fears that men have is probably only scratching the surface. I am sure there are others and you are welcome to add those in the comments to this post. How do you overcome your fears?