Wednesday, March 9, 2011

What does it mean for a Man to be Successful?

Update: I have updated this post with Dr. McMann's response to my question.

At Taylor this week we are having a series of lectures/discussion on the topic of "Sex and the Cornfields." This has sometimes been misconstrued as "Sex in the Cornfields." Let me clarify that the former is accurate and the latter incorrect.

There have been three talks so far. At the first one we watched a movie about gender and media. Most of it dealt with the commodification of women, but it also touched on men and the media. Tonight and this morning Mark McMann spoke on the issue of hope and fears in intimate relationships between men and women. In this post I will focus on his discussion of a common trait of men and their fear of not succeeding.

The Fear of not Succeeding
McMann explained that a major fear men have are is that they won't be successful. Specifically, this is in regards to communication, views on marriage and financial success. McMann explained that men sense a burden to be financially successful, otherwise they are failures. He used different media images to prove his point. in his conclusion, he challenged the audience (who was mostly a female audience.) that our definition of success for men needs to be broadened, though he didn't define what it means to be successful.

Its About the Money
I appreciated McMann's talk. He is bringing out an issue that needs to be discussed. I thought though he partially missed the issue. From my experience, the fear that men experience regarding success is not the issue of whether they're going to successful, it is whether they are going to have a lot of money. Success in our culture is defined by how much money you have. The real fear that men have is specifically dealing with whether they have a lot money or not. So what men are fearing regarding success is whether they are going to have a lot of money.

Also, I think it would have been helpful for McMann to have given a better definition for Christians to have when we think about what it means to be a successful man. A good definition will include being able to provide the necessities of life for one's family. Yet, the necessities of a family are more then just monetary. They include emotional, spiritual and ultimately relational support/leadership as well.

To conclude, McMann's talk opened up some important talks that need to be raised. I would have appreciated him providing a better definition of what success means in our culture and what it should mean for us as Christians.

Unrelated but great quote: "If a man will set no limit to his labor, God will set no limit to the reward." - Augustine (quoted by Thomas Aquinas in Meditations for Lent)


  1. David:

    Another good commentary, on success and men. Someone explained success recently...can't recall who, but it had to do with success in the Biblical sense.

  2. I want a man who has solid character and a strong relationship with Christ.

  3. Thanks for you comment Christy. What do you mean by a "solid character?"

  4. Christ-like character - honesty, moral rectitude, integrity, responsibility, willing to serve others, not self-absorbed, etc.


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