We are more than half of the way through 2016 at this point, and most of you inevitably feel some measure of exhaustion. We move at an alarmingly fast rate in our world today, and if we aren’t constantly intentional to take a step back from the whirlwind, we can find ourselves looking up in mid-August and feeling like yet another year is passing us by without much to look back and reflect on.
We shuffle through the rolodex of memories from our year and we search for meaningful interactions in our relationships, only to find a myriad of shallow connections with passing acquaintances. We look back in search of milestones of growth that we can point to and stand confidently in, only to find we were too busy to press into our areas of weakness and only continued in those temptations and shortcomings. We try to remember people that we had the opportunity to bless with our time, money or resources, only to be reminded that our selfishness once again won out.
Well, brothers, the Modern Day Gentleman wants to be the voice that speaks encouragement into those difficult realizations and helps remind you that there is still plenty of 2016 left to go. Don’t let what has happened determine what you are yet to live out.
Today I want to try and jump-start that moment of “looking up” so that you can make the most of your year yet to come. I want to pose some questions with the hope that they get you considering what steps you can take to help ensure this year is one filled with growth, substance, and meaningful relationships.
Where are you sacrificing?
All gentlemen should be constantly searching for ways to give of themselves out of the excess with which they have been given. If you are moving through life, head down, without consideration of how you can sacrifice for the sake of others, you are missing a foundational part of what it means to be a modern day gentleman. Make sure you are taking careful note of the needs around you. Provide whatever it is that you can offer towards meeting those needs. You will be able to help in some situations more than others. But always ensure you maintain a heart and a disposition of sacrifice for the good of others.
How are you serving?
All too often we think that our monthly volunteer night at the local soup kitchen allows us to “check the box” of our call to serve others. There are several layers to why that is untrue and misleading. First of all, there is no box to check. A gentleman carries himself with a constant attitude of service, and that plays itself out in just about every facet of his life. Don’t be overwhelmed and assume that you need to be volunteering all over town after work every night. Service doesn’t just look like belonging to service organizations. Serving others very often looks very different than that. Serving can look like allowing someone else to speak first in a meeting because you know they have been spoken over several times. Serving can look like making sure all the lights are turned off in your house before leaving, because your spouse has asked you to do so. Serving can look like asking a friend to lunch instead of watching another episode of a TV show because you’ve noticed that they’ve been discouraged lately.
Carrying yourself with an attitude of service is not something you just phase in an out of. It is a constant and consistent habit of seeing situations through a lens that seeks to bless others without need of recognition or reward.
Are you making space for your needs?
Of course, a gentlemen always looks to sacrifice his needs in the service of others. But what about your own needs? Are you tending to your struggles, anxieties, or temptations? Are you ensuring that you are filling yourself up as often as you are pouring out? Many of you know all-to-well the unsustainable pattern of offering more than what you are able to handle. Do not be fooled, to sacrifice too much is very little improvement over not sacrificing at all. Because as time goes on, you will become less and less capable of that service that you are providing. So please, dear readers, be intentional to fill up even as you pour out. This looks different for every person, of course. But regardless of how it needs to happen in your life, just ensure that it does.
Hopefully the questions above provoked some much needed reflection over your routines and schedules that so often distract you from where your attention should truly be. There are obviously many, many more areas where we need to be reflecting and asking difficult questions of ourselves. I’ve only provided a few to you today. If the questions in this article were not necessarily applicable to where you are struggling, keep asking and keep digging…trust me you’ll find areas needing improvement :).
So go, gentlemen. Go and humbly yearn to be better. Go and be thoughtful about your day to day experiences and interactions, instead of just habitually performing the tasks at hand. The world needs thoughtful, intentional men. Go and show it that they are still out there.