Givers and Takers (thoughts on men)

We have it good, don’t we?

In our country, we can dress how we like, speak our minds freely, and are beholden to no-one. If we have a dream, we can go for it. We can marry, or not. We can stay right here in our own hometown, or move to where the grass is greener. When it comes to our freedoms, we have very little to complain about.

Except for men! We feel very free to complain about men.

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I could write a thousand posts on comments I’ve read over the last few weeks; many of them prompted by disappointment, mistrust, and contempt in today’s men. There’s an underlying fear that if we slip up and give a man an inch, he’ll rule over us for a very long mile.

For some of us this fear is real and justified, as there are certainly some men that operate in exactly this evil way. But, in general, our culture is now casting a much wider net: we are aggressively displacing our fears onto all men, not just those who are immoral.

Why is this, do you think?

Yes, some men are takers: taking by force or manipulation what doesn’t rightfully belong to them. But, many men are givers: giving up what is rightfully theirs, for the protection and benefit of others. I think it’s lazy, and mean, for us to lump all men into the very lowest common denominator, and assume they will always think and act like takers.

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For the record, I’m a huge fan of faithful men. This doesn’t mean that I think any less of women (everyone calm down), but the net positive effect of having more righteous men in the world, instead of fewer righteous men is easy for me to see.

That said, I’ve also learned firsthand that our culture has some wildly different ideas of what a righteous person should look like. To many of us, the mark of a good man is that he always treats people with dignity, no matter the circumstances. To others, righteousness means consistently doing the right thing, even when it’s hard.

By either of those definitions then, none of us, male or female, is very good. As humans, we desire what’s best for our own special interests. We get rude and defensive when our rights are threatened, or we are thwarted, or ignored. We fear giving up even one inch, while we routinely expect others to give up a mile.

If we’re honest, we’re all takers.

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Even so, the Giver of Life gave himself up as a ransom for takers. The only Son of God gave up his heavenly rights – became nothing – so we could become sons and daughters of the King. This is what it means to be righteous.

Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5)

I’ve heard from many women who demand unconditional respect from all men, regardless of their own behavior. “We should be able to walk down the street naked and still be respected!” some actually say. In fact, such respect is one-sided and cheap: it requires a great deal of rightness from one party, and nothing at all from the other. It costs the taker nothing.

And so I agree that we shouldn’t give men one inch. Instead, let’s release our clenched fists and relax our demands.  Let’s open up our hands, relax our death-grip, and give a mile!

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IMG_9003What might life look like if we were to pour out miles and miles of kindness and honor on the faithful men in our lives? What if we decided to walk a longer distance with men who are weary – cheering and encouraging – even when it’s costly?

Friends, let’s rally our best energies to build strong bridges and share burdens. Let’s be a more righteous people whose default is to give respect, rather than only take it. Not because we are so awesome, but because God is.

Our Father – generous giver that he is – has given us the gift of his own Spirit to breathe new life in us today. We are not left alone. He will provide all that we need to face our fears and go the extra miles, exactly when we need it most.

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Peace to you, and joy, as you tune your heart to the generous Giver of all good gifts.

Kim

PS. Christmas lights going up LAST year.  We’re don’t typically start in early October:)

30 responses to Givers and Takers (thoughts on men)

  1. elisarush says:

    So true: My pain (or joy) does not give me leave to paint reality differently so my experience tops reality.

    Thanks for the encouragement to keep giving that mile. I’ve been on that path for a while, but have grown discouraged due to others, believe it or not, painting over the reality of our relationship with their pain. I needed to hear that it’s my responsibility to give that mile. There is an eventual time for not giving an inch within relationship, but that is after a trip to the moon and back.

  2. Timely. Thank you. We should all be givers and gracious to those who don’t understand what a gift it is to give instead of take.

  3. Cindy Thieme says:

    Beautiful as always, helpful in my daily battle to stay positive and practice the presence of God.

  4. Susan Blower says:

    Love the pic of the little girl and her daddy. To me, that complemented your piece well. How many of these men that we tear down are husbands and fathers to females? What benefits one sex often benefits the other. It’s not an “us or them” scenario. My sacrificial husband is the first to arrive and last to leave the office every day — not so he can further his career but so he can care for all of his dependents. It’s a heavy responsibility he carries. I would not trade places with him (unless it was needed). I am not jealous that he’s a man and I’m a woman. My role is no less important. As a wife and mother, I hold it all together, and he has told me so. Proverbs also says, “By her own hands, a woman builds her household, and by her hands, she tears it down.” This, too, is a weighty responsibility. Our families in this land are regularly falling apart. Some statistics suggest that 70 percent of infidelity that breaks up a home is on the married woman’s part. This is not to cast stones, as there is wrong to go around. It is only to suggest that we as women need to embrace who we are and appreciate our God-given influence in the home and in society. We hold it together, ladies! In this area, the men need our help because they can’t do what we do. And they need our support because we need them, too. It’s a “we” not “you versus me” world. This is not to say that we women can’t work outside the home or contribute monetarily. I’m saying we have different roles, separate but equal.

  5. Bev Klaiber says:

    Excellent and much-needed word! Thank you Kim for your honesty and bravery! We need more of that! (And by the way, I started a small group study for teen girls following your blog about teen girls sending pics to boys. We have 6 girls for dinner and a study through the book Captivating every Monday night … inspired by your blog. Thank you!) It is the highlight of my week … and, according to the girls, theirs too!

  6. Annie Buck says:

    I love this. After seeing men bashed all the time, from every media source, to seeing my weary husband walk in the door after his 12 hour workday and change clothes to go help his parents move furniture, then eat dinner and go to pick up kids, then go to bed late so he can spend time with us, and then get up and head out the door before light once again, I want to help and encourage him, to let him know I appreciate him and respect him. And also, to not allow others to cut him down either.

  7. Ben Nelson says:

    Hey – Thanks! I am so proud of the men my two sons are becoming, both men of integrity with giving hearts. It makes a papa smile.

  8. Given Breath says:

    Elisa, it’s amazing all the things that can happen to a heart on the way to the moon and back. I love that visual – thank you, and take courage. The LORD is for you.

  9. Given Breath says:

    Cindy,

    It is a battle, isn’t it? Have you ever read Henri Nouwan’s book “With Open Hands”? I have a feeling you might like it…

    Thanks for the encouragement.

  10. Given Breath says:

    An “Us” vs. “Them” battle leaves carnage everywhere – you are absolutely right. If we can be women who use our words to bind up and restore…oh…what healing that will bring. Thanks, Susan.

  11. Given Breath says:

    This is so awesome, Bev!

    I love the idea of sitting around a table with teen girls. Food for the body and soul.

    Thank you for loving and leading them this way – they will never forget it.

    Give them a big hug from me.

    Kim

  12. Given Breath says:

    Oh – I love this.

    I know there is another Papa that is also smiling to see men after his own heart.

    Thanks, Ben.

  13. I am also a “huge fan of faithful men.” I so appreciated the way you approached this subject – one that I’ve been thinking a lot about lately. I keep bumping into this attitude that seems so down on the guys and yet, I have some real neat men in my life and I thank God for them. I’m with ya!

  14. Sara Dionne says:

    I, too, am tired of men being bashed. Our husbands desperately yearn for respect, for our thanks, our encouragement, and our joy when they come home. Thanks your words, giving a timely reminder.

  15. Given Breath says:

    It seems many women don’t really want a real partnership – true equality – where there’s always a mutual ‘preferring of one another’. Instead, they’d like to call all the shots on everything.

    They grumble (or rage) against men, but they are really grumbling (or raging) against God.

    Makes me think of C.S. Lewis’s description of hell: “It will be one eternal grumble.”

    Thanks, Lisa:)

  16. well I have dated trhough 3 gernerations of women now and truthfully no women alive today can cast stones at any man, espeically when it about “takers” with no remorse of all entitlement with no responsibility, Very good article that needs to be heard to break the denial of propaganda of the past 50 years!

  17. Vicki says:

    You make many good points Kim, an excellent article

  18. Spycegurl says:

    I’ve been thinking on this subject ever since i read the backlash to your controversial post. I once read that we need to stop looking at men as ‘failed women’ and it struck me as a really important distinction. As a mom of two boys, i’ve been saddened to see how boys and men have been made out as inherently bad in today’s society instead of celebrating their uniqueness! Here’s to all the wonderful men out there!
    Thanks for posting this, i imagine it takes courage to stick up for men after the firestorm you’ve been subjected to recently!

  19. PoshSpice says:

    “I’ve heard from many women who demand unconditional respect from all men, regardless of their own behavior. ‘We should be able to walk down the street naked and still be respected!’ some actually say. In fact, such respect is one-sided and cheap: it requires a great deal of rightness from one party, and nothing at all from the other. It costs the taker nothing.”

    I believe that you’re misunderstanding what those women want. They want unconditional basic respect for the fact that they are people, regardless of what they are doing. Those men don’t have to agree with her ideas, what she’s doing, or anything else, but they should respect her.
    I should be able to walk down the street naked and still be respected as a person and not be subjected to catcalls or insulting remarks. This doesn’t mean that it’s a good idea to walk down the street naked, or that I think I should. It means that I should have the right to express myself how I want and still be respected as a person. As of 2013, I do not possess this right, as we still live in a society that polices women much more than men.

    If a man walked naked down the street, what would your initial reaction be? Would it be the same reaction as if a woman walked naked down the street? What would your first impulse be and what opinion would you form about the person walking around naked? Those answers should be the same, regardless of whether the person is a man or a woman.

  20. Jackie says:

    The very beginning of the author’s premise is Faulty. As if only the most blatant and manipulative taking by force by men constitutes “Takers”. Its a wider net for sure, but not the net the author implies. The net is rather the wide net of men not even having a clue about how to give a woman the support and love she needs. How to really CARE for someone without wanting something in return. Men are biologically and culturally wired to be achievement oriented and to Win. Empathy and caring and support are unfortunately in very short demand in the male population and in the male psyche. And Always, this is not an across the board generalization. But, it is true enough that it has become part of our global consciousness.

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