Men are fighters. From the junior high locker room to the frat party rumble to the Octagon, many men love to see a good fight and a few love to be in one. There is something in us that is drawn to seeing who is the strongest, the toughest, the one who can take a punch. There is a real sense that this is part of what it means to be a man. Men are born to compete, made to battle, wired to fight. But what most guys fail to see is that they are in the ring with themselves.
The box-office, main event of the century is the battle over your character.
Good character is hard to achieve because it requires looking at our weaknesses and addressing them accordingly. It is one thing for a man to acknowledge that he has told a lie. It is another to acknowledge that lying is habitual and that he is a liar. It is hard to look closely at the mirror of repentance and easy to look through the window of avoidance.
The man who humbly faces up to the reality that he is the problem passes through one of the central steps every man must take to enter true manhood. Men who never humble themselves dance around the ring instead of planting their feet and throwing a punch. They avoid the fight for their character in one of the following ways:
Resting on success
Success, not failure, is the most pressing danger men face. When a guy experiences even a little success, he can slip into complacency. He stops asking questions about his character as long as he is feeling successful. He deceives himself into thinking that who he is on his best day represents his true character. Similarly, he can avoid questions about the costs of his success and whether the end justifies the means.
This is where our compartmentalizing tendencies come into full force. We can redefine the fight by changing the arenas. When our wives press us about how we need to spend time with our children, we point to our work lives to justify our absence at home. If we are failing in our work, we point to the struggles we have in our home life. And if we get a little success in one area, we use it to excuse slacking in others. When we use this tactic, we forget that if our character is rotten, then with enough time it will eventually spoil every area of life.
Retaining the wrong team
Some of us are oblivious that we aren’t fighting the right fight. We surround ourselves with enablers, people who are more interested in our material and external success than whether we are becoming better men. Many of us have fans not friends and it is showing up in our lives through our lack of character growth. Our friends help us mature or they don’t.
Striving for good character is the one battle that will always be worth fighting.