Sometimes we get stuck seeing things our way. Would you like to see some things through another set of eyes? Maybe it will make you think and stretch or maybe just chuckle or shed a tear. Here is my world through my eyes...

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Manly Man Training #4: Self-evaluation

In our quest to be better men there comes a time, hopefully early on, when we need to make a self assessment.  We must honestly look at ourselves and ask some important questions to determine what our emphasis needs to be for the future.  In short we need to set goals about what we see we need to be and then what we are going to do to get there.  In my mind the goal includes 1) a recognition of areas we are weak or not as strong as we want to be, 2) a philosophical or spiritual place we want to get to and 3) actual concrete things we can do to move toward that goal.

But before the goals must come the self-evaluation. Self-evaluation shouldn't be a stranger to us in the church.  We have often been encouraged to evaluate our standing with the Lord while we partake of the Sacrament.  In addition many of us work in jobs that require a yearly evaluation.  At least in some of them, as I am, we are asked by our bosses to evaluate ourselves to a degree and determine what areas we need to improve in as well as what areas we are strong in.  Many of us served missions that had "companionship inventories".  If you did these correctly you learned to evaluate and encourage--just what is needed here.

Man looking at his reflection.

I have enjoyed reading a book by Robbert L. Millet, click here to read more about him.  He has written a book entitled Men of Valor: The Powerful Impact of a Righteous Man.  This book was given to me by a great friend and has come to be one of my favorite books and should be in every man's library and referred to often. 

In this book he suggests three questions to ask ourselves to evaluate where we are and where we need to be as a "Manly Man".  They are:

1)  What kind of a man am I?

As a Manly Man, which of course implies in my usage that we want to be a better, righteous, Priesthood Man, we need to be able to look at ourselves honestly and see what is truly good, and then to be willing to look at what is lacking or weak.  I think it is important to see both.  Of course an assessment to have a starting point to become better tends to look for what needs work and what we are doing poorly in, but we also need to give ourselves credit for the good that we are doing.  In my mind the Lord has given us weaknesses so that we can make them strengths.  But we derive confidence and strength to make our weaknesses strong from those things we are already strong in and have developed well.

So when you ask yourself what kind of man am I, you must not have a critical eye but rather a faithful, honest and true eye.  An eye that sees correctly and reports honestly.  This is not a time to be concerned with ego or humility but to be 'spot on'.

2)  What kind of man do I  want to be?

The questions don't get any easier do they?  What kind of man do you really want to be?  Are you willing to take what you got and call it quits?  "I'm good enough--no changes needed here!"  (Which of course brings up the question of what is enough--for another time.)  What do you want from yourself, what do you expect of yourself and then of course how does this differ from where you are currently.

Sometimes it does us good when we ask this question to remember a time when we had great hopes and dreams and wanted to be a great man who impacted family and others for good.  When was that time for you?  Maybe when you were just receiving the Aaronic Priesthood as a young man?  Maybe when you put in your papers to go on a mission or possibly the week before you left or just after you returned home from your mission?  Possibly as you humbled yourself and asked a young woman to marry you and you wanted to be the man that she deserves?  Remember those times and regardless of where you are at now, you can recapture those dreams and let them energize you toward being the kind of man you want to be.

The final question is harder still, because it requires letting go of a portion of yourself -- the selfish portion perhaps-- and seeing yourself from another point of view.

3)  What kind of a man does my Heavenly Father and my Savior need me to be? 

Ahh, now we have reached the crux of the matter.  What is the will of our Savior for me.  Not only what kind of man do they want me to be, but what kind of man do they need me to be?  So our efforts are not small in scope here because what They want will undoubtedly be connected to what my potential is.  Not just our ultimate eternal potential but right now they need me to do and to be something which suggests this just isn't for myself and likely not just for my family (although that impact from us is huge and will effect hundreds for centuries).  God needs us to be and do things right now for a variety of reasons and in His economy many will be influenced for good if and when we make the effort to improve ourselves.

So, now my question to you is are you Man enough or "Manly" enough to really ask yourselves the questions.  Not just read them and think they are nice but to really ask and then answer the questions.  Maybe you will want to write down your answers.  And if you are really ready to grow you will ask them of your wife and hear, without defense, her answers and consider them honestly in combination with your own evaluation.  I know it is scary, but hey, we are not trying to build "wimpy men" here (I have a separate training for that--Ha!).  We are building a "Manly Man".  As President Hinckley said "This, my beloved friends, is what the gospel is all about—to make bad men good and good men better..." (October 1976)

Start now by asking yourself these three questions: What kind of a man am I? What kind of man do I  want to be? What kind of a man does my Heavenly Father and my Savior need me to be? Those three questions will undoubtedly open your mind to this question:  What kind of man does my family--including yourself--need me to be?  You can do it, but start now.

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