What do you think of when you think of a strong man? Strong Man competitions? Stacked and bearded guys tossing large timbers, chopping logs, etc.? The tatted-up guys on Harleys? What do you picture? What does it mean to be a strong man? Physically speaking, those guys might exhibit some strong man attributes, but what about the other measurements?
It's important to think about what image you have in your head of what a strong man is, because that is the image you're moving toward without even realizing it. It's also important to be aware of how you define weakness in a man.
As far as weak men, I've got a couple of images that might surprise you. One is this: a gym rat, super jacked, physically ready to go, but he's not in control of his emotions. He can barely hold down a job because he's got a temper and is unreliable. He's not morally good either. He's just partying it up and whatever, because he's a little boy who put on a bunch of muscles.
The other is the John Wayne type: a checked out, emotionally unavailable dad. You'll never see him cry. Why? Because he's not spiritually and emotionally engaged. His capacity to really love and commit and invest is very small.
So there are tough weak men and then there's the fragile weak men. A guy that's always complaining about everything, something's always someone else's fault. He's also just physically weak and fragile, stumps their toe and weeps about it.
Tears are good. There are weak tears and there are strong tears. For example, Jesus cried strong tears when he heard of the death of Lazarus. He wept because he loved him so much.
When it comes to the measure of a truly strong man, you should take into account all the facets of who he is physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.
So let's give ourselves a test in those four categories: physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual. A perfect score of 100 means you scored 25 points for each category.
Testing Your Physical Strength
Physically strong men can move heavy stuff, demonstrate explosive power on the weight bench and also in a sprinting exercise. You have agility and flexibility. You're fit, sturdy, seldom sick, and have lots of physical energy for daily life and for extraordinary, emergency situations.
By the way, I gave myself a 16 for this. Right now, I sort of vacillate somewhere between a librarian body and a special operations guy.
How would you score yourself physically?
Testing Your Mental Strength
Mental strength means you approach life intelligently, you work hard to educate yourself on important things (not necessarily in a college either), you demonstrate creative and problem-solving powers, you're good at planning and your plans usually work out.
You've also got grit to see things through to the end, you're able to embrace the suck, and you've got the intestinal fortitude to push yourself for days. If you gave yourself a 25, you're lying. Adjust it to something more mortal and realistic.
How do you score mentally?
Testing Your Emotional Strength
Here's a big one. Emotional strength measures your capacity to handle anger and the entirety of your emotional range. How emotionally intelligent are you? Are you ruled by your emotions or do you rule them? Emotions are absolutely a good thing, but out of control emotions are a real threat to yourself and those you love. How well do you handle disappointment? How good are you at rejection? How able are you to deal with loss?
It doesn't mean you won't experience strong emotions when dealing with these situations, it just means that you're able to rein them in because of your strength and perspective.
Maybe you were betrayed years ago and still have a deep, unhealed gash in your spirit. You just can't move on. You had your heart broken, and so you will never love or trust someone again. That is big time emotional weakness right there.
How well do you deal with the annoyance of others? Some of you who think you're good haven't had small children who ask you questions and then questions about the questions and then questions about how you answered the questions about their questions. And then eventually, you want to slam your head against the wall.
And though children are a blessing from the Lord, you'd be like, "I'm not going to make it. I'm not going to make it."
How would you score yourself emotionally?
Testing Your Spiritual Strength
Are you spiritually strong? When I talk about weak men, this is typically what I'm thinking of. Maybe they're really athletic, really smart and successful, and yet lacking in the vital area of character. A person of poor character cannot be truly strong, and eventually their poor character will weaken the rest of their attributes.
Men with strong character are the strongest men among us, and they seem to be an increasing rarity. Do they have a great capacity for joy? Joy is actually an incredible index of the spiritual strength of a person. How readily can they forgive other people? If they're harboring resentment and lack forgiveness for other people, they're morally weak people.
What is their capacity to love deeply? I'm thinking of some faces right now of men who love so extravagantly. Their laugh is richer and deeper. They know how to celebrate with folks. And they're some of the greatest people on the planet. I've met a lot of them through church. They have deep waters and a deep love for people. These are the real strong men.
How solid are your relationships with others? How deep are your relationships? How long-standing are they? What is the integrity and trust that you've built over years and years of really being known and knowing someone else? This is all indicative of great spiritual strength. And so a scale of zero to Jesus, how do you rank?
How did you score?
If you gave yourself a 100, I'm pretty concerned about you. Hopefully most of us are self aware or know others who can give us an honest assessment. Where did you shine brightest? What areas did you need to improve in?
Wherever you scored on those four spectrums, the point of this test isn't to convince you that you're a weak man beyond hope. The point is to take a hard, honest look and then to pursue avenues for increasing strength in each of those areas.
Get to the gym, improve your diet, of course. Train Hard. Train Smart. Yes. But also pursue connections and communities that can encourage you and keep you accountable. Find men you can respect who can help infuse wisdom and truth into your life. Humble yourself about addictions and hang ups. Seek the path of truth and life, because ultimately that's the only way any of us can actually Live Free.
I care deeply that we Warrior Poets are strong people, because we're out there in a world that desperately needs us to be as strong as possible so that we can not only carry our own junk, but also help carry the burdens of other people and make the world a better, safer place.
So I salute you guys for actually caring, investing, and being good dudes. Thanks for being my brothers.
Train Hard. Train Smart. Live Free.