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An Online Publication that
Helps Employees and Job Seekers
Develop and Implement Career Goals
with Information and Insight.
Articles by Dow Parkes, MDiv.
Career Coaching Explained
Why Use a Qualified Career Coach?
A good analogy is to compare a career coach to an athletic coach or personal trainer. Even the best athletes need a coach to guide them to the next level; they need someone who will actively listen to them, evaluate their needs and goals, and motivate them to reach their potential. Compassionate Coaching is about facilitating a person to find their mission and passion in their careers balanced by the rest of their life. Athletes, musicians, actors -- and yes, some job seekers and career changers -- would not be as successful without the services of a coach.
What can a Career Consultant do for you?
1. He/she can help you identify your skill set and preferences as matched with employers who can best make use of them and are willing to compensate sufficiently with salary and job satisfaction. He/she is also a resource specialist that will help find opportunities for training, education, and self improvement.
2. A career professional can help problem solve if you feel stuck or frustrated on your job journey. A career coach concentrates on where clients are now and helps them develop goals, plans, and action steps toward some future employment or career goal. Career coaches, because of their experience and training, are full of strategies and exercises to help people move out of stagnation and into action.
3. A Career Trainer will be process focused and will equip you with the skills to achieve success and wellness on the job.
4. A vocational expert should also be results oriented and help achieve tangible outcomes including increased career management skills, compatible job placement opportunities, and retention success with room for advancement if desired.
5. Finally, a good coach will help you develop a support system of contacts and liaisons that will ensure achievement on the job and a vibrant personal life. He/she will also help you keep your sense of humor to better benefit from stress.
Resolving to Reframe Retirement
It is so easy to mistakenly feel that one's senior years requires resignation, retirement, and recline. Noted career expert Dick Bolles prefers to think of life in terms of a music symphony which traditionally has four parts to it. Bolles describes retirement as the fourth movement of life which can gives us the opportunity to redevelop, redirect, and renew our resources and identity! On the subject of retirement planning we usually limit our thinking in terms of making wise financial investments instead of how we want to invest our time, talent, and tenacity towards a new vision and mission for ourselves. The final phase of our life can revolve around choice, change, and confluence. I challenge those of us over 50 to innovate a dynamic life plan that helps us come together empowering us to celebrate people connections and strategic risk taking. George Walker Bush jumps out of airplanes on his birthday and Jack Lalanne used to perform amazing feats of endurance towing with his teeth a small flotilla of boats. Helen Day O'Connor started up a nonprofit foundation involving a international civic society building project and also still serves as a federal appellate court judge across the country. Jimmy Carter in his later years helped promote Habitat for Humanity, has written 21 books, and established the Carter Center to advance human rights and alleviate unnecessary human suffering. I have started a successful business career coaching in my middle years and experimented in comedy magic to get my "mock" motivational messages across. If you are younger, consider yourself in your productive prime, and need empowerment, spend some quality time with mature mentors who will help coach and direct you on your path toward actualizing and activating your potential for personal success and life balance.
Assignments for Redirected Retirement
1. Obtain yearly physicals and follow your doctor's advise! Stay healthy, earthy, and wise!
2. Involve yourself in a creative community that helps you connect with your spirituality, if that is important to you.
3. Consider making active use your own mentors to help guide and inspire your strategy and life plan whether she is a friend, counselor, coach, sponsor, or clergy.
4. Take a full inventory of your values, needs, skills, and talents to
better know yourself in order to develop goals and objectives.
5. Write out a bucket list of things you still want to do, places to
visit, and people to know.
6. Consult with financial advisers. Always try to get two opinions on major money matters.
7. Volunteer, volunteer, volunteer for agencies and causes you have
8. Play, play, and play some more! Romp, dance, and recreate!
9. Consider starting a new business or venture that will bring in both income and fulfillment.
10. Eliminate addictive/abusive behaviors and substances where possible.
11. Engage in daily affirmations and gratitude listing.
13. Come up with your own to dos every day that help you feel accomplished and motivated toward action.
12. Develop and maintain a healthy sense of humor toward self and with others. Norman Cousins while sick developed a recovery program incorporating a positive attitude, love, faith, hope, and laughter induced by Marx Brothers films.
13. Don't compulsively delineate your whole life as if a detailed blueprint. Plan also to be spontaneous and impulsive according to the need of the moment.
14. Read from retirement resources such as What Color is your Parachute for Retirement by Dick Bolles, The Time Paradox by Philip Zimbardo, Passages and New Passages by Gail Sheehy, and Rediscovering Your Values by Jim Wallis
15. Maintain an attitude of altitude or high level of feeling toward the quality and value of how you live day by day.
Beyond Anger at Work
What makes you angry on the job? Is being feeling disrespected a trigger for you? Does it make you mad when someone invades your work space privacy. Do you get irritated when you sense that you and co-workers are being used for another's purposes? Does the micro-managing boss "push your type A buttons"?
We are all unique, and each of us adjust differently from one situation to another. You might have a short fuse one day and be easygoing and tolerant the next day. Knowing what sets off your anger is the place to start. Next, recognize when a trigger is presenting itself and decide how you want to respond rather than react.
First, pay attention to what makes you angry at work for two weeks. Start today to make a list that is just for you. Include answers to these questions:
▪ "What was the situation?"
▪ "What disturbed me, put me off, or made me genuinely angry?" (This could be an action, way of behaving, a word, etc.)
▪ "What did I think and feel when this occurred?"
▪ What was my role in the conflict?
Be faithful to this task for two weeks. When reviewing your list, look for patterns. "Triggers" always will be with us — at work and in life — but we can change how we respond so that dysfunctional forms of conflict are minimized. Career success depends on successful management of anger and conflict in the workplace.
Ken Cloke and Joan Goldsmith, authors of Resolving Conflicts at Work: A Complete Guide for Everyone on the Job (2000), say managing anger is an important life skill and so does Neil Warren founder of Eharmony in his book on anger.. Managing your anger can minimize self-destructive effects of it and move your conflicts toward resolution. They recommend certain anger management techniques that I have revised and adapted:
1. Own it. Don't blame anyone else for your anger. Be responsible for your own intense feelings and for openly and constructively expressing them though not necessarily in the workplace.
2. Discover the underlying reasons for it. You can ask yourself why you are angry, what triggered your emotion, and what deeper emotions or prior experiences are connected to it. Remember it is just as important to discover how you express and process your anger.
3. Share your feelings and perceptions non-judgmentally. Drop all self-justifications, defenses, and judgments you are using to support your anger. Consider avoiding statements such as "you are wrong" and clearly indicate what was done that made you mad. Use "I" statements when you decided to express four fears, angers, anxieties, and guilt. These feelings can be all interconnected.
4. Ask questions to discover whether your perceptions are accurate. Without making judgments or fixing blame, ask questions to find out more about what happened, so you can get to the bottom of what triggered your anger. Do some fact finding.
5. Focus on solving the problem rather than blaming self or others for it. Take a problem-solving approach to the underlying reasons for your emotional response to the conflict.
6. Avoid responding defensively. Do not fall into the trap of defending your behavior. Consider the possibility that you may have been inappropriate, or that you and your opponent may both be right. Explore these possibilities openly. At the very least, if the other person doesn't understand, recognize that you did not communicate your feelings skillfully.
7. Ask clarifying questions. Ask the other person -- keeping your own tone non-defensive and avoiding hostility -- to clarify what was meant. Ask if your assumptions about what they are saying or doing are correct, and allow them to explain. Listen more carefully if you were not correct the first time.
8. Clarify your expectations. ay exactly, specifically, and in detail what you expect. If the other person cannot meet your expectations, you can always negotiate more realistic expectations, so they will be clearer about what you really want. Realize that you can reframe expectations as needs and wants.
9. Ask for help. Ask a third person to mediate or facilitate your communication, a friend, career coach, union rep, manager.
10. Apologize and start over. An apology can be a declaration of ownership of what is not working if not overused, and a request for improvement. Better yet if you recognize your role in the conflict consider making amends and taking corrective action.
If you would like to read more, you can find Resolving Conflicts at Work and other books by Kenneth Cloke and Joan Goldsmith in local bookstores and online at www.josseybass.com and Making Anger Your Ally by Neil Warren.
Wellness at Work Wellness has been a oft bandied notion that seems to satisfy insurance carriers who want to promote prevention and health education to reduce the costs of medical treatment and illness. Ronald Reagan began many of his sentences well... That is besides the point. Wellness can be been seen as a dynamic state of health in which an individual is responsible for progressing toward a higher level of functioning and coping. Wellness is essential to personal growth and professional efficiency. A template for wellness includes attitude adjustment, time management, value clarification, diagnosis, and balanced interest in self and others. How one feels and thinks about work and life can determine happiness, satisfaction, and self esteem. For example, if one fosters a negative attitude towards coworkers and supervisors, an aversive work experience can result. In addition, effective time management which allows for leisure and productivity prevents burn out and enhances life management. Becoming aware of one's life priorities and principles, then living according to them instills integrity and intentionality. Evaluating one's physical and spiritual health indicates when life and work style adjustments are necessary. Increased consciousness can then result from laughter, meditation, yoga, recovery, therapy,
biofeedback, food planning, fitness training, mindfulness, and even physical exams. Finally, learning how to self motivate while helping others attain their potential advances wellness in all arenas.
The Suggestion Box Revived
Is your company suggestion box full of cobwebs in the
workplace because no one take it seriously, neither employee or employer? Most feed back loops have been limited to verbal communication between subordinates and supervisors and systematic online employee feedback forms that merely gather statistic data to indicate patterns. In order to cultivate creative solutions to long standing problems I say it's time we bring the idea of the suggestion box back to full use. Have a simple online system employees can use such as intranet.* Build in an incentive programs that offers financial compensation to ideas which increase efficiency, save money, or increase company morale. Employees need feedback options, formal and casual, where their comments are highly valued and acted on wherever possible in a timely manner. An open system manager will encourage both criticism and complements that improves a work atmosphere that fosters collective need assessment and strategic planning.
How The Census Changed My Life
Behavioral research has indicated that monitoring activity in and of itself can produce desirable change. For example, if you want to lose weight the first suggestion most diet experts make is to inventory what you eat, how much, and how often. How does this have anything to do with the census you might ask? For the better part of the last 18 months I have worked for the US census in various positions and for several operations that included address verification, homeless enumeration, group home inventory, non response follow up, supervising, and quality control. I initially found the job demands very exacting and intimidating. Much emphasis was placed on reliability and veracity. I discovered talents I didn’t think I had like legibility, multi tasking, assertiveness, flexibility, defusing anger, and tolerance.
My biggest shock was discovering I wasn’t as direction impaired as I feared. Thanks to maps I was rarely lost for long. I loved getting to know different neighborhoods and communities within the county I have lived in for 15 years. I did find it disheartening to discover most of us really don’t know who we live next to even by first name. I also rediscovered an ability to time manage and task prioritize that I hadn’t called upon since graduate school. Overall, I did not feel unsafe or terribly threatened by angry refusals or demanding supervisors.
I did have a few unique interviews with respondents that were flat out unusual. There was a couple that appeared uneasy giving up personal identifying information to an institution they learned not to trust. There was the three woman who invited me to join them for wine in the backyard, an offer I did refuse. There was also a cute elderly couple with a ocean facing home who lovingly corrected each others birth dates. All they were able to agree upon was that the dotting husband was his wife's junior. I encountered a refusal proxy who when asked why she would not cooperate made the sound of a horse and pretended to hoof in the dirt. I was yelled at about 15 times, had the door slammed in my face about 5 times, and was threatened with police action twice. However, most of the respondents were apologetic about not turning in their forms and fully cooperated with me. There were some concerned property managers who didn’t understand their responsibilities to the census.
In conclusion, I was fascinated by the inclusiveness and variance I discovered within the cities I worked in. I enumerated all kinds of living arrangements including gay married couples, single households, homeless, communes, Alzheimer patients, other census workers, and recovering addicts. I did observe among a vocal minority such fears of identity theft they were willing to risk losing their identity as part of the kind of melting pot community this country was based on. However, most wanted to be counted cause they were interdependent upon a responsive government to serve their needs and elicit their involvement. More than anything I rediscovered an inner confidence in my professional skills and abilities to creatively collect and validate data. I also liked the teams I worked with who were all grateful for their employment and took their jobs as important and vital to our government and community. So I say visit some of your neighbors and ask them for 10 minutes of their time. Be willing to share the same info you are requesting from them regarding interests and feelings. If you pay closer attention to personal info others communicate to you you can avoid prejudice and profiling. Listen more and and judge less!
PS All identifying personal details regarding respondents were changed for this article and content was reviewed by the Census legal department.
A Male Perspective at Maria Shriver's Women's Conference
It was stated in the Long Beach Telegram on 10/27/09 that only about "10 men were seen scattered among the crowd" attending the Women's Conference. In addition, it was reported that men are "relatively rare in that environment, but no one is made to feel unwelcome." I observed that there were several hundred men attending the two-day event. That's right, I braved ridicule from some of my traditional male friends and networked with the female empowered participants. I am a better person and man for having attended. I was moved to tears at the Alzheimer's Association exhibit. * I hung up a prayer cloth in tribute to my mother, who died from the disease earlier this year. I was inspired by Jane Goodall's charge to equip people - male and female- to do what they can for a better world. Finally, I felt respected by the women who were there to learn how to transform into architects of change. As liberated men, we must also learn how to act in concert with women toward equal rights, inclusion, parity and empowerment. I hope more men attend next year's conference until one year the conference will attract a more proportionate alliance of men and women.
My observation is that it seem unacceptable to rest/nap during the day because it seems derelict or too passive. Nevertheless, the many health benefits of taking a rest-bit has been thoroughly researched. Strategic day sleeping has been shown to increase memory, longevity, concentration, and libido. Day napping can also decrease anxiety, depression and blood pressure. So I as a life management expert I recommend you structure slumber into your day without delay. I take power naps averaging 30 minutes on a regular basis. I am an improved person and effective professional due to this discipline. Just don't snooze when you should be skippering an oil frigate or landing a 727. There is a time and place.
Collective Contact Phobia
In our contemporary American germ phobic culture, direct skin contact is discouraged and obsessive sanitized hand washings almost public health mandated. Of course excellent hygiene and self care is always warranted. However, with the rumors of a flu pandemic that can kill, I've noticed even friends and relatives are afraid to shake hands, sneeze, or get within a 6 feet radius of any human, swine, or bird. I make light of this syndrome but I am alarmed by the fear behind this germ avoidance mania. I insist there must be medical research that proves that not trusting one's natural defenses and immune system makes one more vulnerable to contagion and disease. Underneath some of these aforementioned compulsive behaviors is also a collective fear of intimacy and death. Becoming "Adrian Monk" like may be tempting but it separates us from touching and connecting with others. Take a risk, next seemingly healthy stranger you meet, warmly reach out your hand. You can pull out your sanitizer soon thereafter if you find it compulsory. You may find the
direct contact you make will cultivate workable relationships in the future.
Balloon Boy and Reality Television
Our worse suspicions were confirmed on 10/18/09 when authorities declared that the story involving the Heene family and a fly way alien balloon, allegedly containing a small boy, was a complete hoax. The stunt was a well planned marketing ploy by Richard and Mayumi, who met in a bad acting school in Hollywood and have appeared on the horrendous reality show "Wife Swap."Some of us watch tv to escape reality for our own life routine and regular. However, the trend in television for the last 10 years has been to give viewers something that appears "real" so we can relate. This latest incident only convinces me that reality tv can breed deception and bad, bad, bad acting. Isn't it time we reevaluate reality and embrace it within our own lives rather than have to live it vicariously with such actual shows like The Academy, My Bare Lady 2 - Open for Business, Amazing Adventures Of A Nobody ,My Big Fat Obnoxious Boss ,My Big Fat Obnoxious Finance, America's Dumbest, Nanny 911, Nightclub Confessions, America's Trashiest Weddings, Outback Jack, American Idol Extra, Anatomy Of A Disaster, Paradise Hotel, Are You Smarter Than A 5th Grader?, Battle Of The Bods, Beauty And The Geek, Powers of the Paranormal, Pushing the Limit, Re-Inventing Bonaduce, Bizarre World, Real Heroes Among Us, Blind Date, Real Stories Of The Highway Patrol, Boot Camp, Real TV, The Bronx Crime and Justice, Road Wars, Busted & Disgusted, Love Stings, Camp Reality Sexy Cam, Celebrity Boot Camp, Shock Treatment, Celebrity Boxing
to mention a few
. The Fox Reality Channel lists and broadcasts over 150 shows with such silly titles. I believe that living reality on its own terms yields real joy, pain, and relationships which can't be substituted through obsessively watching others take staged risks. Reality what a concept to experience by rather than spectate.
Sex and Harassment in the Workplace
Over the last 30 years, I have developed a special sensitivity to gender issues as they surface in the workplace. We don't think of men as also being victims of sexual harassment although it happens more often than even Hollywood would like us to believe.
For example,the movie "Disclosure" is a combination mystery and thriller about office politics and intrigue in the computer industry in the mid 1990s. The main focus of the story, from which the film and book take their titles, is the issue of sexual harassment. The film invites viewers to critically examine topics such as the ease with which allegations of sexual harassment can destroy one's career and whether a double standard exists when such allegations are levied by men or women.
This brings us to the current talk show host scandal wherein not all may be what it seems. The broader question to these charges involving a CBS producer and Letterman is whether or when it is appropriate to have sexual relations in the workplace between superiors and subordinates. It was troubling hear Letterman's candid admission to multiple sexual episodes with his employees despite the charm and humor he used to express it.
One must ask during this rapidly developing story whether it is important to separate one's personal life from one's professional life without living double. I believe that companies must help employees and managers maintain personal and ethical boundaries to insure employee safety. morale, and trust for authority.
Some of my favorite links
Hope for MEN'S Recovery and Reemployment
FIRST PRINTING 11/28/83
SECOND REVISION 11/21/06
THE AMERICAN MALE’S DILEMMA
ALL HAS NOT BEEN WELL WITH THE AMERICAN MALE. MEN COMMIT OVER 90% OF THE MAJOR CRIMES OF VIOLENCE. THEY COMPRISE 94% OF DRUNKEN DRIVERS, 70% OF ALL SUICIDES, 91%
OF ABUSE OFFENDERS AGAINST FAMILY AND CHILDREN. SINGLE MEN ALSO COMPRISE 80 TO 90 % OF MOST CATEGORIES OF SOCIAL PATHOLOGY. 1. GOLDBERG ADDS HIS DOCUMENTED DISCOVERY THAT AMERICAN MASCULINITY IS HANDICAPPED BY A SHORTER LIFE SPAN, GREATER VICTIMIZATION AS A RESULT OF CRIME AND A HIGHER INCIDENCE OF MANY CHRONIC DISORDERS. 2. THESE GRAVE FACTS INDICATE THAT THE AMERICAN MALE IS CAVING INTO THE TREMENDOUS PRESSURES AND HIGH EXPECTATIONS THAT THE CULTURE HAS HEAPED UPON HIM AND FURTHER PROVES THAT THE AMERICAN WOMAN IS NOT THE ONLY GENDER TO SUFFER UNDER THE OPPRESSION OF A DISCRIMINATORY SOCIAL SYSTEM.
In calling into question the female’s traditional role one must correspondingly question what it means to be a male in contemporary society, for gender roles must be redefined in tandem. 3 It is apparent that the American male need a sensitive approach which will liberate him from the delimiting prescriptive ways the culture has molded him. 4 Some of the most bounded aspects of the male role focused on in this paper are; an emphasis on task achievement as a symbol of self worth, compulsive competitiveness, emotional inexpressiveness , and relational isolation. After discussing these issues at length, this writer will proceed to examine ways the
recovering community can deliver men from bondage. Concisely put, the sober society’s tasks entail holding forth a spiritual role model for male person hood, proclaiming a theology of wholeness, and creating unique contexts for belonging (other than stag meetings).
Barriers to Wholeness
Before jumping to the task at hand it is prudent to explore the different ways the culture prevents men from becoming whole. First of all , men have been trained and raised to glean their sense of self worth from how much they have accomplished. This has led men to “ size” each other up according to performance oriented criterion. For example, Smith narrates a common ritual that takes place upon meeting someone for the first time. Inevitably one of the first questions men ask is: ”What do you do?” “What he wants to know is their occupation, and with it their social standing. 5 American culture teaches that high performance in the work -place leads to big bucks, fame, and even power. Success is not learned by being a loyal friend or a good husband rather it is a reward for excelling on the job. Lyon compares this compulsive need to succeed with being involved in a “machismo olympics”, a macho participant is run by the games, rather than the other way around. Each man is never to cop out from going for the gold (money, property, prestige). Every man must keep playing (performing) until he drops. When he does collapse, he is carried off the field by his family who have been watching in horror, afraid to utter a word for fear of being called sissy themselves. 6 Hence, it is clear that men are expected to derive their sense of worth from what they do rather than from who they are and how they have been loved.
Instead of giving and receiving love from others the traditional male often finds himself caught in a fierce competitive contest against peer, neighbor and potential friend. From the time boys are born they are indirectly taught to compete against their cohorts. Balswick reports that although the more traditional symbols of status are such things as winning in sports, being promoted on the job , and earning high grades in school, men can compete at almost anything and will do so in order gain status. 7 One negative consequence of this need to compete is the feeling of being superior or inferior and the resulting feeling of separateness. Goldberg comments that under these conditions men can only temporarily become close if they unite under a common target or enemy. 8 Researchers have surmised from their findings that the barriers of competition between males prevents intimacy facilitates distrust, and further reinforces a task orientation to relationships.
“Another thing I learned-- if you cry, the audience won’t. A man can cry for his horse, for his dog, for another man but he cannot cry for a woman. A strange thing. He can cry at the death of a friend or pet. But where he’s supposed to be boss with his child or wife, something like that, he better hold em back and let them cry”- John Wayne 9
Man’s inability to let down his guard and express his feelings is typified by John Wayne’s strong and silent (around women) cowboy image. A survey of the research seems to demonstrate consistent differences in emotional expressiveness between men and women. This may be due to females being stereotyped as having more expressive ‘feminine” feelings of love, joy, and sadness while males are supposed to be more expressive of such ”masculine feelings” as anger, indignation, and hate.
Dr. Jack Balswick, who has done much of the research on male inexpressiveness, has developed a helpful typology of inexpressive “boys,” as he calls them. This sociologist has categorized inexpressiveness of the basis of three criteria: (1) in terms of whether or not feelings are present, (2) in terms of whether or not there is an attempt to pretend to express feelings: and (3) whether the potential object of expressiveness is a female or a male. 10
A brief description of these various inexpressive characters will prove helpful at this point. The locker-room boy is both more comfortable and also more able to reveal feelings with certain other men in sufficiently “masculine” environments. Conversely, the parlor-room boy feels more comfortable in expressing feelings toward females than toward males. Unlike the parlor-room boy and locker-room boy the “John Wayne” cowboy has feelings of affection toward both genders, which are never expressed directly. The good ol’ boy is completely loyal to the other good ol’ boys which makes it hard for an outsider to enter. A common storehouse of memory makes it unnecessary for good ol’ boys to cement their relationships through expressing verbal affection. In contrast, the playboy is completely void of feelings but becomes skilled at pretending to portray those feelings the women in his life. The con-artist is also a skilled manipulator, but of women by means of his ability to convince them he really likes and cares for them. The fact that many men report they have a hard time trusting other men may be indicative of the length to which the con-boy role is utilized by the American male. 11
In addition to there being different types of inexpressiveness, there are different emotions which men have difficulty communicating. Olson believes fear to be one of the emotions that is the hardest to admit and express. Fear is often directed away from failure, making each victory or success hallow and short lived. 12 Another oft denied emotion is dependency for it is equated with passivity and weakness, and that supposedly spells disaster. On the other hand, resistance to this affective state produces workaholism, an inability to relax, restlessness on weekends, discomfort during vacations, and an unwillingness to own illness or admit to a need for sleep. Not being able to cry for help and make himself vulnerable is another affective denial that will lead a man to suffer and struggle in silence. By giving women permission to show this kind of “weakness” society has allowed her to gain internal strength while men who hurt inside suffer from the consequences of surface strength. This distancing from one’s self and others can push the man down the path to depression. Inevitably the suppression of personal needs, resentments, and fears, along with a good-sized dose of personal insecurity will cause sustained depressed moods. 13 These are but a few of the emotions the American male has trouble owning and communicating, for he fears it will make him appear unstable, weak, and fragile.
Ballad for the Isolated Man
“You say you’re disillusioned and you don’t know how to live. You say you’ve given all you can and you’ve nothing left to give. Your energy lies liquified in a bottle on the shelf and you look around the room and you cannot find yourself. You cannot find yourself. You disconnect your body and you live life in your mind. You’ve cut off all your feelings and your heart’s so hard to find. You want someone to love you, to meet your every need. Well, first you need to love yourself if ever you’ll succeed. If ever you’ll succeed.” 14
Not only has the American male cut himself off from his own emotions but he has understandably removed himself from relationships which require intense emotional investments. Herb Goldberg relates that upon interviewing men, most seem to view their isolation and lack of friendships as the norm that doesn’t need to be examined or questioned. 15 Similarly Levinson discovered that most men have not had a truly intimate non-sexual friendship with a woman. 16 Smith is convinced that man’s isolation is caused by an enormous fear of being rejected--and represents a tragic denial of an important core need for fellowship. 17
Homophobia is one particular fear that has reinforced men’s isolation. American males show many signs of this fear of being branded homosexual. Although most males would probably deny that they are skin hungry they often have needs to be physically stroked and held. Compared to other cultures, males in the United States are often very undemonstrative and inhibited about showing love to someone of the same sex. In order to conquer his fear of same gender intimacy the American male must learn that exhibiting traits of tenderness has no bearing on his gender identity. 18 Generally, the more secure a man is in his own sexual identity the more open he can be in relating to a member of the same sex.
In summary, it is evident that a man must clear tall cultural hurdles before he can experience wholeness and liberation. He must be liberated to love himself because of his intrinsic worth rather than extrinsic “market value.” In addition, men must be taught to live in harmony with those they usually competes against. It is just as urgent that he be given the freedom to feel and emote without fearing others’ negative assessment of his masculinity. Finally. trust must be instilled within him so he can reach out and love others without apprehending their rejection or his own homophobia. Unfortunately he cannot liberate himself from these omnipresent threats to his presented. The American male needs Christ and a spiritual community to exemplify, theologically specify, and activate his wholeness.
Deliverance from Captivity
Christ as Liberator
After exploring some of the ways the American man is held in captivity it has been shown he needs a liberator
who will role model and enable how it is possible to be truly free. Spiritually minded men should stand at the forefront of the men’s liberation movement and indicate how Jesus Christ can be the paradigm of personhood for both genders. 19 Christ calls us to mature presented in his image (Eph 4:13) by tearing down the barriers of task achievement, competition, inexpressiveness, and isolation.
Christ emancipates the American male from bondage to a capitalistic system that defines worth as productivity. Throughout His earthly life, Christ consistently affirmed the value, importance, and worth of every person. He proclaimed: You are the salt of the earth” (Matt 5:13);”You are the light of the world” (Matt 5:14). He challenged the Protestant work equals worth ethic when he declared, “Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they?” (Matt 6:26) Perhaps the best picture of Christ’s attitude toward the value of men and women is painted in the prayer he said when facing death, “...I pray for them...for they are yours...I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one:I in them and you in me.” (John 17:9,22) the ultimate expression of worth is knowing that one is created by God who loves and redeems through Christ’s atonement.
Christ also frees men from compulsive competitiveness. Power and dominance were foreign to Jesus’ teaching and practice (Lk 9:51-55;John 18:11) the son of god substituted the desires for success, status, and prestige with opposite traits. He once told a zealous, would be follower that he didn’t even have a place for his head.
Once when his disciples were jockeying for position, he put a child in their midst and asked them to be like children (Matt 18:1-10). In another occasion He counseled them: “Let the greatest be as the youngest and the leader as one who serves.” Christ also confronted the “give em Hell” male attitude of aggression, violence, and daring. He calmed down the disciples who wanted to call fire on a village that rejected His message. In Matt 26;52, He begged the disciples to put down the sword. His unfulfilled desire for his competitive and contentious contemporaries was “would that you knew the things that make for peace” (Lk 19:42)
Christ delivers man from his inexpressiveness. Christ was an expressive man who was never ashamed to show emotion and make Himself vulnerable to those he ministered to. If one examines the entire life of Jesus, a man who experienced a wide range of feelings is disclosed. The most prominent emotion was Christ’s compassion for others. The gospels report numerous occasions when Jesus showed both internal feelings (He loved and empathized ) and external action (He helped the needy). The compassion and love of Christ is seen in His relationship to other individuals such as the blind man, lepers, the bereaved widow, the woman at well, and the mourners of the dead Lazarus. In praying to His heavenly Father/Mother, Christ divulges His deep empathy for men and women by beseeching: “that the love wherewith thou didst love me may be in them, and I in them.” (John 17:26)
Although Jesus was meek, mild, and tender, He was also capable of anger and indignation. In a world under the curse of sin, Jesus responded with personal anger and righteous indignation to inhumanity, hardness of heart, unbelief, and hypocrisy. The same Jesus who said, suffer “the little children to come unto me”, went into the temple, drove out those who bought and sold animals and upset the tables of the money changers. Jesus’ anger at the hypocrisy of the Pharisees can be seen when he called them :whitewashed tombs...full of dead men’s bones and all kinds of filth,”snakes,” and a “viper’s brood.
Christ breaks through the wall of isolation which shields the American male form others.. Christ modeled and created the possibility for intimacy. He was by no means a religious recluse who periodically came out of hiding to utter some spiritual wisdom and arrogantly reprimand those He was sent to save. He lived , fellowshipped, wined and dined, and served those He would eventually die for. He led them into an ever-deeper community and at the climax of His ministry calling them “friends.” He did not hesitate to reveal His love for them, to let them touch Him, lean upon Him, and embrace him. 20 In addition, Christ never denied His need for human intimacy and support. This need for companionship was exposed when He asked three of His closest confidants to keep watch while He agonized in prayer. Another example of Christ’s neediness is found in His persistent probing of Peter to see if he really loved Him (John 21:15-17).
Christ’s vulnerability to women also discloses the deep relationships he held in high esteem. He needed to be as supported by women as He did men. He touched women publicly (Lk 13:10-17) and allowed them to touch Him without chagrin (Lk 8:43-44). He allowed women to nurture him and financially assist Him (Lk 8:3). Christ also summoned forth women to follow him and some became those he depended upon the most (Lk 8:2; John 4; John 11:1-46; Lk 23:55-24:24).
Not only did Christ model intimacy but his mission and commission was to create a community of believers who depended on each other to such a degree that when they met his presence was evoked (Matt18;20; Acts 1). Christ never let his masculinity get in the way from giving and receiving love. His sacrificial love for men and women tore down the dividing wall that separated and insulated men and women from each other (Eph 2:14). Christ’s compassion emancipated them so that the world could
detect the difference in how they loved one another(John 13:55).
Proclaiming a Theology of Wholeness
Christ’s compassion for men and women’s fallen condition led Him to die on the cross so that men and women’s wholeness might be restored. It is the church’s task to proclaim this opportunity to be healed of their culturally imposed lameness 20.5 This completeness was first experienced in the Garden of Eden when God declared it was very good for men and women to be in equal partnership. Dr. Roberta Hestenes astutely comments on the relational theology underscored in Genesis one and two; “It seems clear that God’s intention for both man and woman is that of complementary partnership as being equally created in the image of God and jointly given the charge to be fruitful, subdue the earth and have dominion.” 21 The climax and focus of the creation passage seems to be the similarity and unity of both genders, stressing their wholeness rather than some sharp division between what was constitutionally male and female.
Although the curse judged and radically split maleness off from femaleness(Gen 3;16) in such a way that man was expected to become the provider and reigning patriarch while the woman was delegated to become the nurturer and acquiescing inferior, Christ’s redemption recreated the possibility for reconciliation and restoration. 21. Once again man and woman could experience wholeness and relate to each other’s God predestined rather than culturally determined individuality. This truth is confirmed by the magna carta for all humanity found in Galatians 3:16???? Mollenkott suggests that the meaning of this great passage is not that males and females are going to lose their biological differentiation, “rather the Biblical passage promotes freedom and psychological wholeness fostered by Christian fellowship.’ Thus, “each male and each female would be free to develop his or her gifts without reference to gender based stereotypes.” 22
Now that a few of the Biblical trestles have been laid toward developing a theology of wholeness it is imperative to explore some of the advantages of constructing such a theology. First of all an emphasis upon wholeness gets the focus off a culturally tainted attempts to delineate what is Biblical masculinity and femininity. Secondly, it avoids the trap of being associated with one particular gender over another. Agreeing with the aforementioned argument, Nelle Morton asserts that “any theology developed by one sex, out of the experience of one sex, cannot be lived out as though it were a whole theology.” By telling, hearing, and exploring in depth Biblical revelation with masculine and feminine eyes perhaps “a whole theology for the whole person” can be be formulated. 23 Lastly, this theology of wholeness has direct pastoral and clinical applications. Charlotte Clinebell writes that many persons who are struggling with a wide range of liberation issues come in for counseling with two basic questions; “How do I become a whole person?” and ‘what is a whole person?” For the pastoral or professional counselor to face these questions head on is, in itself, a liberating experience. 24
Inducing Creative Community
True wholeness is not developed in a relational vacuum. One of the most effective ways to bolster a man’s self worth, challenge his need to compete, free him to express his feelings, and engage him in relationships may be by changing the social/relational structures which maintain all these male defenses. The Bible holds forth the ideal of the community as being the perfect agent for change and growth (Eph 4:12-16). If the church is able to be a transforming agent in society, she can muster the courage to run counter to culture. The
spriritual/recovering Communities can create dynamic contexts of belongingness where perplexed men who have lost their identities can be saved, salved, and sanctioned into whole people again. Two mediums of bonding (friendships and gender exclusive groups) can yield extraordinary results.
Men need to be open to evolving friendships with other men. 23.5 The soulship David had with Jonathan beckons the male from his solitary confinement. This kind of love relationship is based upon commitment (covenant) and maintained by communication. 24.5 These kinds of nourishing relationships are centered on interdependence. the Christian male has an advantage, for he can draw strength from his dependence of Christ and risk his weaknesses with a significant male other.
Of course it is impossible and inhumane to program a ministry that forces intimacy upon men. The counselor/pastor/sponsor may best facilitate such friendships by engaging in them himself! Nevertheless, in his personal counseling with lonely men he can offer some of the following ideas for developing new male friendships. (1) Learn to smile and demonstrate genuine interest by remembering a man’s name. (2) Be willing to take small steps toward building some friendships with other men. Ask someone to do some traditional male activity they are comfortable with; go out for coffee together, attend in a mutually liked sport, or have lunch. (3) Realize that friendship grows in gradual but not necessarily progressive stages. Intimacy takes time and a willingness to risk and self disclose. (4) Learn how to listen sincerely and encourage others to talk about themnselves. (5) Work through homophobia in therapy or with a trusted confidant. (6) Remember that friendships can never be manufactured no matter how much initiative is taken. Intimacy is a special gift that should be viewed with awe and gratitude. 25
Another vehicle of ministry to the man, enslaved by his won traditional malenmess, is the small group. Support groups can gently lead men toward gender role liberation. Although Olson believes that men and women should discuss these issues he concedes that they may need to meet separately from each other, for a while so that they may explore feelings, secrets, experience distance, and express anger they couldn’t as readily share with the opposite sex 26 This writer had to grudgingly make the same concession when he asked the chairperson of Women’s Concerns at Fuller Seminary if she would consider allowing men into their meetings. Understandably she was against the idea because the presence of men was feared to intimidate and disrupt the level of trust between the female members.
Hence, this writers’s only other alternative was to organize a separate men’s concerns group. He was pleasantly shocked to discover there were fifteen other men interested in joining such a group. The members’ agenda was to discuss their own male identity as it related to all dimensions of their personhood. The men’s concerns group divided into two and then became a class offered to both men and women entitled “Men in Difficult Times” This writer joins Olson in his aspiration that the ultimate goal of exclusive groups should be reconciliation and dialogue between the genders. 27
Men’s conscious raising type of support groups can reap many benefits if properly organized. The following is a list of suggestions for running such a group: (1) Structure: don’t be afraid to leave the exact purpose and content of the group somewhat vague. Allow the group to take some responsibility for deciding what they want. The group definitely needs to decide when, where, and how long they want to meet. (2) Leadership: Some groups are officially leaderless and function well. Other groups need a designated leader who will facilitate the group process. He must not be so intent on using the group as a platform to air his own insights and values that he isn’t really listening to the group. (3) Content: Don't’ panic if the group wants to go with the flow and not be tied to a particular guidebook . They may need the freedom to be concern rather than topic centered. If the group does want something to respond to there are several provocative books available. (4) Confidentiality: Most groups enforce a strict rule of confidentiality and don’t allow group gossip even between members. (5) Size: The size of the group should ideally be six to eight members (6) Communication: “I” statements are generally most productive. Men love to listen to themselves intellectualize! Don’t let them overuse this to avoid feelings. (7) Accuracy and validity: each member’s statement on the whole is assumed to be accurate and valid. (8) Learning process: consciousness raising is part education and part resocialization, two important components of the discipleship process ( Matt 28:19-20)(9) Activities groups engage in represent a wide variety of activities including psychodrama, dancing, drumming, singing, athletic events, sweat lodges, and retreats. (10) Goals and directions: A group needs to occasionally evaluate its accomplishments and to choose and define its future direction (11) New Members: None should be added without consensus.
Once a men’s support group is appropriately structured, defined and facilitated; it can yield many favorable results. Pleck has found that in these groups men can learn to share and experience their emotions and validate each other’s worth as persons. He insists that these men will no longer overdepend on women which has led in the past to so much fear and need to control. 29 Verser adds that men’s groups can remove the barrier of competition by understanding how to touch one another emotionally and physically without feeling ashamed. 30 Finally, a fourth positive outcome, appraised by Stein, is greater satisfaction in interpersonal relations. Men, through understanding themselves better as men may also acquire a greater understanding of experience of encountering other men within a men’s group can also lead to greater empathy with men in general” 31
In conclusion, this writer has sought to document how the American male has been the victim of society’s gender oppression and reversed chauvinism. However, it has been shown how man’s dilemma can help bring about his recovery, if he can come to grips with his own impotence to save himself. If the American male can turn to Jesus Christ as both the standard for liberated manhood and the ultimate liberator, he will be truly free to involve himself in life transforming relationships!
1. Olson Changing Male roles in today’s world, p23
2. Stein, R. Men in transition, p. 289
3. Olson summarized what men’s liberation can gain from women’s liberation:
a. Relationships are enhanced
b. Family life tasks can be reassigned
c. Both spouses earn equal wages
d. Men can let go of sex-role confinements’
e. Man is freed to listen to women and not just offer advice
f. The man can feel less futility of retiring from the task oriented world
4. Balswick, J. The Liberation of the American Male, p. 1
5. Smith The friendless American Male, p. 187-188
6. Lyon, H.C. Tenderness and Strength, pp 36-37
Olson believes task achievement to be a major theme that defines the male sex role, referred to as the “ Big Wheel” syndrome. Changing Male Roles in Today’s World, p. 18
7. Balswick, J. Men in Transition, p.141
Another major male theme, Olson notes, in that of “Give em Hell.” For these men the terms aggressive and dominance are taken as compliments, Changing Male Roles in Today’s World, p. 20
8. Ibid., p.59
James Verser has spelled out three rules which help to develop his theory of competition: (1) One must win in a conflict in order to express and channel anger. (2) Boys are trained to not lose for it is unmasculine. (3) This desire to win bleeds over into relationships inhibiting the ability to relate equally and honestly. Men in Difficult Times, p. 8
9. Quoted by Balswick, Men in Transition, p. 31
10. Ibid., p. 131
11. All these descriptions were taken from Balswick’s article in Men in Transition, pp 132-135
12.Olson, Changing Male Roles in Today’a Society, pp 39-41
13. Ibid., p. 42
When any of thee emotions are denied several negative repercussions can occur:
a. The man becomes erradic
b. He resents others inability to mind read
c. He becomes prone to emotional outbursts
d. He develops psychosomatic symptoms
e. He further distances himself from others
f. He will numb his suppressed pain with drugs or alcohol. Ibid.
14. A condensed form of a poem quoted in Lewis, Rr., Men in Difficult Times, p 297
15. Goldberg, H. The New Male, p. 9
16. Levinson, D. The Seasons of a Man’s Life, p. 335
17. Smith The Friendless American Male, p. 22
18. Lyon, H.C. Tenderness is Strength, p 31
Balswick, J. Men in Transition, pp 140-141
19. “Ever since Pentecost the church has struggled if sometimes unenthusistically and unsuccessfully, to cut through the barbed wire of cultural custom and taboo in order to emulate the liberator who promised men and women ‘if the Son makes you free,you will be free indeed.’” Scanzoni and Hardesty, All We’re Meant to Be, p. 59
20. Balswick, J. The Liberation of the American Male, pp 2-3
20.5 Ray Anderson interjects a profound thought when he writes that spirituality involves es a body-soul unity which in essence delineates the content of wholeness. Theological and Psychological Aspects of the Family
21 Hestenes, R. Scripture and the Ministry of Women, pp 6-7
21.5 Brown recognizes that wholeness relates to a Biblical notion of salvation. Wholeness as salvation implies an understanding of being “gathered together” and “becoming unframed” true wholeness is an act of grace. Reach Out to Singles
22. Mollenkott quoted in Olson, Ibid. p. 86
23. Morton, Nelle “Toward a Whole Theology” as quoted in Counseling for Liberation by Charlotte Holt Clinebell
23.5 It is granted that opposite gender friendships are a vital aspect of men and women’s growth process. However, this writer wishes to concentrate on male inclusive relationships for it is rarely experienced by men.
24 Clinebell, c. Counseling for Liberation, p 20
24.5 Dennis Guernsey insists covenant to equal the “and” in the equation ‘God and man” “man and woman,” “parent and child.” One wonders why covenants need to be confined to blood, conjugal, or vertical relationships. According to James Torrance, it is a promise binding two people or two parties to love one another unconditionally. Torrance points out that Jonathan and David had such a friendship. This writer believes every man deserves and needs at least one male covenant partner in his life. Theological and Psychological Aspects of the Family.
25 Smith The Friendless American Male, p. 179
Olson, Ibid. p. 65
26. Olson, Ibid., p. 149
28 These ten points were taken from Creane, J. Men in Difficult Times, pp 254-258, and then modified
29. Pleck, J. H. Men in Difficult Times, p.238
30. Verser, J. Ibid., p[. 16
31 Stein, t. Men in Transition, p.295
Anderson, Ray and Guernsey, Dennis b. Theological and Psychological Aspects of the Family Pasadena; Fuller Theological Seminary, 1981
Balswick, Jack The Liberation of the American Male Pasadena; Fuller Theological Seminary, 1982’
Brown, Raymond Kay Reach Out to Singles Philadelphia The Westminster Press, 1979’
Clinebell, Charlotte Holt Counseling for Liberation Philadelphia; Fortress Press, 1976
David, Deborah and Brannon Robert eds. The Forty-Nine Percent Majority: the Male Sex Role Reading Mass.; Addeson-Wesley Pub, co, Inc., 1976
Goldberg, Herb The New Male from Self-Destruction to Self-Care. The New American Library, 1979
Hestenes, R. Women and the Ministries of Christ Pasadena; Fuller Theological Seminary, 1979
Lewis Robert a., ed. Men in Difficult Times. Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey; Prentice-Hall,1981
Levinson, D., et al. The Seasons of a Man’s Life. New York; Alfred A. Knopf, Inc., 1978
Olson Changing Male Roles in Today’s World
Scanzoni, Letha and Hardesty, Nancy All We’re Meant to be Waco; Word books, 1974
Solomon, Kenneth and Levy, Norman B. eds. Men in Transition. New York; Plenum Press, 1982
Smith, The F
Friendless American Male