One of the aspects of becoming what I like to call a warrior poet, as a knight of medieval Europe, or an ancient Greek warrior was to cultivate valor.
What exactly does that mean, and how does one do that?
Merriam Webster defines valor as, “strength of mind or spirit that enables a person to encounter danger with firmness, personal bravery”. It comes from Middle English valour worth, worthiness, bravery, from Anglo-French, from Medieval Latin valor, from Latin valēre to be of worth, be strong.
I don’t recall any classes in my school that taught or promoted valor. As a matter of fact, I think our schools promote just the opposite. What we’ve been experiencing over the past couple generations is the emasculation of men starting at an early age.
So, what exactly is cultivate? After the description of gardening, we get to the definition that I would like to focus on, and that is described by Webster as, “c : to improve by labor, care, or study; refine <cultivate the mind>, 3: further, encourage <cultivate the arts> 4: to seek the society of : make friends with.
So if we look at the admonition to cultivate valor we find it’s an admonition to improve by labor, care or study the act of strengthening the mind while learning personal worthiness and bravery.
Sounds like a worthy goal to me.
How do we do that in a society that condemns men for being men? We are told to be nice, polite and gentle. When we’re a child in school if someone pushes us around, we’re told not to lower ourselves to their level by hitting and to be the bigger man. Really? That’s how you create men who are wusses and wimps.
I’m not advocating fighting every time someone looks at you funny. I’m not advocating being rude, unkind, or gruff with everyone you meet. What I’m advocating is being what a man is supposed to be, what God has called him to be.
If you look at Jesus’ examples, you will see Him as kind and gentle with children, widows, the affirmed and those who are suffering. You also see Him very aggressive and in-your-face with religious hypocrites and cruel task masters. Jesus was not a wimp that let Himself get pushed around, He was a man’s man.
The kind of man I am talking about is exemplified by the character William Wallace in Braveheart played by Mel Gibson. Wallace could be humorous, friendly and kind, yet he had a passion and drive that stood up for his woman, his country, and for his suffering country-men. He was no one to be trifled with, he was a man of valor.
Like the warrior poets of old, like King David, and like our Savior Jesus Christ who became man for a time. These were men of valor with deep compassion, and love for others, yet were far from genteel men. They were men who were brave, self-sacrificing, concerned about others; but were afraid of no one.
Somehow we’ve been fed a lie that says strong men who stand up for themselves and are willing to fight for what is right are bullies and brutes. No, bullies and brutes are not men, they are bullies and brutes.
Real men have feelings, and the capacity to be kind, considerate and even gentle. Real men can appreciate prose, music, beauty and art. Real men can even cry when moved emotionally yet still stand strong, and are un-swayed in their dedication to God, family and ideals.
A real man would never bully or abuse a women, child or honorable thing. Just the opposite, they will sacrifice and defend those things with their very last breath.
So, how do we learn to cultivate valor in a culture that holds valor unimportant and passé’?
The only way to do that is to stop looking at what our society says about men, and what rolls men currently hold. The roles that God has given men and women have become so blurred it’s hard to know what a man is anymore.
Many men have misconstrued their responsibility as head of the family to mean self-important dictators. They have become terrors in their own family, and rule with an iron fist. Then there are those on the opposite side who refuse to accept responsibility for their families at all. Their family is not their priority, instead things like work, sports and their own personal gratification are their concern.
Men need to start looking to the past if they want to learn what a real man is, and what being a man of valor means. So many people look at Jesus and talk about how loving, kind and nice He was. Yes, He was those things, but He was also powerful, strong, and didn’t put up with nonsense. He called it like He saw it, with no apologies offered for stepping on toes while telling the truth and opposing wrong.
Could someone without valor lay down their life as our Savior did? Absolutely not!
It’s time we stopped looking to society to tell us what a man is, because our society has no clue about manhood or valor anymore. If we want to learn to be men of valor, we need to read the scriptures and really study the examples of the men of the bible.
We can also look back to the founding fathers of this great nation. Consider how many of them acted on an ideal “the birth of a new nation” that was bigger than themselves sacrificing everything. Those were acts of valor. Then consider the men and women who daily face danger and death defending our country overseas, as well as, defending us and our streets at home.
Many talk about needing a revival in this country, and I couldn’t agree more. Unfortunately unless, and until men begin cultivating valor in their lives again, there is little hope that men will be able to stand up and lead such a revival.
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