Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Do Guys Need Encouragement?

The ending of every "Lone Ranger" TV episode was identical -- someone asking, "Who was that masked man? I wanted to thank him." The Lone Ranger rode out of town knowing he saved the day, but he needed no thanks.

Bruce Wayne as Batman runs away at the end of the movie "The Dark Knight" knowing he will never receive recognition or thanks for the good he did for Gotham City.

James Ryan in "Saving Private Ryan" stands at the French graveside of his fallen compatriots and ponders if he truly earned the sacrifice it took to save him.

Ever since the formation of America, the American male has been portrayed as the strong, silent man of action. He will start nothing but finish everything. He will protect and uphold the weak. He has contempt for the self-righteous and cannot abide in wrongdoing. A whole cadre of male movie actors reinforce this stereotype - Audie Murphy, James Arness, Gene Autry, William Boyd, Gary Cooper, Robert Duvall, Clint Eastwood, Mel Gibson, Harrison Ford, Sean Connery, Bruce Willis, Vin Diesel, and John Wayne.

A boy growing up in America is surrounded by the historical and contemporary concept that he needs to be manly, to be strong, to take action, and to act without expectation of reward, recognition, or respect. To "do the right thing" is reward itself. But do we men need reward, recognition, and respect? Is it enough to know we are doing the right thing? Do we need encouragement? Do we need the "atta boy"? Are we weak when we crave a "thank you" for a job well done? Are we unmanly to expect a monetary reward for going above and beyond the expectations of our job, our position, or our assignment?

I'm just asking. What do you think?


Matt said...

I think there is a difference between encouragement and a reward. We are not saved by works so our actions should not be a means to an end (we shouldn't go above and beyond because of the reward). However, I do think all people need encouragement, praise, and recognition for their efforts from time to time, it just shouldn't be the reason for the efforts in the first place.

Anonymous said...

Gary Smalley and John Trent in their famous "The Blessing" book point out that all of us need affirmation. They cite the famous example of Esau's deep remorse (regret?) over losing his blessing after tricky Jacob took it from him (Genesis 27). I don't know if the psychologist John Trent has statistics to back up their point, but it is my experience as a man: I think we need to give and receive more affirmations (as men).

Jim Driskell said...

If you wait underwater these days for thanks or encouragement, you're gonna drown. Do men need it yes, should we let it get to us when we don't get it or stop doing the things we should be doing? No! Should we have that Barnabas that walks besides us, absolutely. Our main focus should always be on the ultimate recognition, "Well done thou good and faithful servant". We can always use encouragement, but when we look to Christ we know we will get it.