Alphabet of Manly Virtues: “A” is for “Average”

7 May

Letter A

I grew up pretty average.  I was the only child of an average, middle class, American family.  I went to school, got pretty good grades, played sports, and went to college.  I grew up in Arkansas in an average American town.  My parents had friends who were pretty average, but I loved them like family.  All in all, average was a part of my life.

As I grew older, I realized I didn’t want to settle for average.  The men in my life were the average guy.  They did the average guy things.  The picture of an average guy that was painted for me was a man who went to college, got married, worked to make a comfortable living for his family, came home to a home-cooked meal, sat in front of the tv till it was time for bed.  That was the picture I had in my head.  That’s what I thought it was to be a man.

As I grew older, that image began to change not by me, but by God.  God was showing me what it meant to be above average.  He was showing me what it meant to be a better man.  Not to say the men in my life were not great because they were.  I have a great dad and other “uncles” who were great influences in my life.  But, God was molding me into something different.

The old mentality of a man was the provider of the family.  A man did not show emotion.  A man did not enter the kitchen except to eat.  A man did not stay at home with the kids because a man had to bring home the bacon.  I know men who still live like this today.  But, don’t you think it’s time to rethink the definition of manhood?

My wife, Allie, and I got married almost nine years ago.  When we were planning our wedding ceremony, we decided to wash each others’ feet to symbolize our servant hearts towards each other.  It was a special time in our ceremony, but it was not something to leave their at the wedding altar.  It was something that we were going to take with us in our marriage.  We truly wanted to serve each other.

From day one, I took it upon myself to wash the dishes after each meal.  My wife is an awesome cook and I told her that if she was going to cook the meals, I was going to clean up the meals.  For nine years I have done this because I want to serve her.

Almost six years ago, we had our first child, a son named Caedmon.  He is such a joy and so smart.  He is very musical and has a heart for God at the young age of 5.  That being said, he was a horrible sleeper.  He was up at all hours of the night and we did not get a lot of sleep.  My wife loves to sleep.  She would sleep till noon everyday if she could.  I, on the other hand, do not require a lot of sleep.  So, to serve my wife, I let her sleep in whenever she can.  I get up with Caedmon and our other two boys every day.  I want her to be able to get the rest she needs because I want to serve her.

When we moved to Massachusetts eight years ago, we moved into the parsonage of a church.  It is an old house and the laundry is in the basement.  It is a typical old basement: dark, dank, and scary looking.  My wife did not want to go down there, ever.  So, I took it upon myself to do the laundry because I wanted to serve her.

My wife works full time, so I am the one who stays home with our kids.  I have changed many diapers, fed them many bottles, and hauled them in and out of our minivan, which I like to call it the “manivan” since I am the one that drives it.

Now, I do not say all of this to brag about what I do as a husband and a father.  I don’t even do all of this stuff right.  I am still very selfish and do not want to serve my family a lot of the time.  But, I say this to brag about my God who showed me a better way to be a man.  The world says a man should be the provider and not get involved with the household stuff.  The husband is the one that sits around and watches tv while his wife cleans the house and talks to her when he needs a refill for his drink.  A father is the one who plays with the kids, but can be hands-off when it comes to raising them.  A father is the disciplinarian, but doesn’t want to let his guard down too much when it comes to showing emotion towards his kids.

In John 13, Jesus is having the Last Supper with his disciples.  During the meal, he took off his outer garment, filled a basin full of water, got down on his hands and knees, and washed the feet of his disciples.  He started with Peter and Peter was shocked.  Then Jesus said to him in John 13:7, “What I am doing you do not understand now, but afterward you will understand.”  Peter and the others did not get what Jesus was doing, but they did understand later.  He wanted them to serve.  This was the King of Kings, the God of the Universe, the Savior of the world washing their feet.  I did not understand what washing my wife’s feet would entail when I did it almost nine years ago, but I am learning what it meant.

For too long the image of men has been one where we are the ones being served and not doing the serving.  Jesus showed us that we need to be serving without expecting to be served.  Men, let us change the stereotype of a man.  Let us be like Jesus who took off his outer robe and served his disciples.  Let us serve the people in our lives.  Let us serve the women in our lives.  Let us serve the kids in our lives.  Let us not be afraid to show and express emotion.  Let us strive for above average because average is not going to change anything.  Jesus was the above average man who changed the world and he wants to change us into above average men.

(This is part of a brand new series on More Than A Beard featuring 26 posts from 26 authors on manly virtue. We still have a few letters open that need authors if you are interested in taking part:  F, J, K, M, N, P, Q, and U. For more info on being a part of this series, send an e-mail to dmwonders@gmail.com)

-Ryan Reveley
image

Ryan Reveley grew up in Arkansas, but now lives in Massachusetts.  He is married to Allie and they have three boys, Caedmon (5), Shepherd (2), and Rex (9 months).  He is the pastor of Matthew Memorial Church in Chelmsford, MA and is also a stay-at-home dad.  He is pursuing his Masters of Arts in Biblical and Theological Studies from Knox Seminary and is an ordained minister through the Primitive Methodist Church.  He is a sports lover with baseball and football being his favorite.  He is a die-hard Braves, Red Sox, and Chicago Bears fan.  He loves reading and spending time with his family. Connect with Ryan on his blog.

7 Responses to “Alphabet of Manly Virtues: “A” is for “Average””

  1. timgallen May 7, 2013 at 11:33 #

    love this, ryan! way to be like jesus and turn things on their head. i’m certainly not your average dude, either. i, too, do the laundry in my household, and often pull dish duty (when we eat at home, that is). plus, i’m not afraid to make dinner if it comes down to it. (ok, maybe a little.) but i will if i have to. also, i’d jump at the chance to stay home with our kids (though we don’t have any yet), and not because i’m some lazy oaf.

    this is a fantastic start to this series! thanks, dave, for launching this!

    • More Than A Beard May 7, 2013 at 11:45 #

      The bar has been set! I am excited to see how the series is coming together. I wonder what you will do with “Z” to close us out…

  2. Holistic Wayfarer May 7, 2013 at 11:46 #

    Aww….nice photo! I think it was CS Lewis who said the greatest enemy of the Best is the Good (that we settle for).

    https://aholisticjourney.wordpress.com/2013/05/07/dance-and-marriage-metaphors/

    • More Than A Beard May 7, 2013 at 21:19 #

      I think that is the key: not settling. When we slip into patterns of being comfortable and putting forth the least amount of effort, we rob our families, communities, churches, and God. It isn’t fun to push ourselves and sacrifice through a life of service, but that is what we are called to!

  3. chadwickray May 8, 2013 at 11:32 #

    I never understood the gender roles viewed by society, because they did not exist in my house. I grew up in a close family where not only did both my parents work, but my grandparents as well. They were all equals. My dad grew up doing the things a man should do, but he was also the one who cooked as many of the meals in our home as my mom. My mom, also made more money than my father most of the time. Did this de-masculinize my father? No, to them they were equals assisting each other and my sister and I in life. We were all in this together.
    To me a man is someone who stands up for what’s right, and is loyal to his beliefs and his family. I learned that from my Father and my Grandfather. They still show me what it means to be a man. Did they get alot wrong? Yes, but we live and learn.

    • More Than A Beard May 8, 2013 at 13:33 #

      Thanks for weighing in and for reading the blog, Chad. If you would like to write for MTAB, we would love to hear your insights! This post is the first in a series that we will be continuing for the next 13 weeks and we are still looking for writers to tackle F, J, K, M, N, P, Q, and U 🙂

      • chadwickray May 8, 2013 at 13:48 #

        I’d love that opportunity! Let me know how to get in touch with you and let’s get some conversation and topics started.

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