Man Up Musings - Man Up Adventures

I'm Sorry Lone Ranger...

Nathan Thompson

I walked into a local Loves Travel Stop early one morning about a month ago to hear the excited voices of several middle-aged men gathered around a table talking about the weather - among other things - and sipping coffee.

Three things were immediately evident:

  1. These men were truck drivers.
  2. These men didn't know each other.
  3. Despite being under the impending doom of a monster blizzard, these men were having a great time.

As I walked to the back of the store to pick up my fuel for the morning (Arizona Green Tea), the baritone timbre of their laughter and chatter provided a masculine musical quality that commanded my attention. They were having a good – no, GREAT - time, and it was at this realization that I found that I, too, was smiling. Their laughter, their conversation, their community was proving to be contagious.

As I left, my busy schedule forcing me to fight the urge to join them, my thoughts were still very much back at the table full of conversing men. What was it that was so intriguing - even refreshing - about the sights and sounds of a group of men having a great time? Then it hit me. It was the rarity of the situation; how out of character it seemed. After all, wasn’t sitting around a table chatting and drinking coffee a, well… feminine thing to do?

The thought hit me like an earthquake, but was immediately followed by an even larger aftershock: “Where did that thought come from? Why am I thinking that?”

It’s a good question, and one that begs asking.

Could it be that man’s hardwired, innate need for other masculine community has been suppressed by everything society is telling him that he should be? What currently shapes the majority of American men more than anything else in our culture right now? Movies.

Why are there so few men who see the need to play their role in masculine community? Because that’s not what men see when they watch their favorite movies.

James Bond tells men that in order to be a hero, get the girl, and gain the respect of those around them that they need to live a brash, absurdly unrealistic, daring life – ALONE. Die Hard, Rambo, Gladiator, and Rocky, the list goes on and on. Hollywood’s message to men is consistent: “You don’t need other men. It’s not at all about community; it’s about you. All you need is you.”

Merriam Webster defines the phrase “lone ranger” like this:

One who acts alone and without consultation or the approval of others; loner

Is that why it’s so hard to get a sustained, consistent church men’s group together? Is that why lonely, driven men are constantly tripping over their own egos as they try to build their own little kingdoms in a world full of other men doing exactly the same thing? Is that why some men become bitter; weary with the incessant battle to gain recognition; to become the man on the silver screen with the girl, the car, the career, the bulging pocketbook, the cock of the walk, the man everyone’s talking about…?

The world – and the church - is full of these kinds of guys. How do I know? I used to be one.

It’s time that men come to understand that they need other men; that their circle of effectiveness and influence is drastically limited when they choose to go it alone. It’s time to recognize that the bond and cooperative thrust of a community is far greater than the limited capability of a solitary man; that more can be accomplished quicker with the cohesive unit of community than with the individualism of many small kingdoms. It’s time to recognize – from the pulpit to the pew – that the church needs to unite.

I’m writing to churched men, so allow me to be frank: The world you’re trying to impact doesn’t need another James Bond. Ever.

The world needs men like Jesus who forsook his own agenda to be about “his Father’s business;” who didn’t come to establish a personal kingdom, but a church full of believers; who didn’t live for his own notoriety but devoted his ministry to raising up the twelve men that would fill that gap when His time on earth was over. The message that Jesus brought to the world didn’t die when He left the scene; it exploded to the uttermost parts of the earth. Why? Because Jesus wasn’t about himself; He invested Himself into others. Jesus saw the value in community, and that community is what is now known as “the church.”

So what was so beautiful about what I witnessed at the truck stop? I saw lonely men – truckdrivers – who didn’t know each other take a bit of impending adventure (the inbound snowstorm), embrace a commonality between them, and in doing so, bring a room to life.

Sure, there was some loud arguing over the weather and roads and such, but there were no hard feelings when it was finished. Plus there’s something to be said for men who will leave the comfort of their little kingdom where they’re always right and embrace a bigger world where their viewpoints will be challenged. After all, that’s what keeps most men tucked safely into their little cocoons of solitude – their ego.

If four guys around a table in truckstop can light up a room like that, just think what Godly men could accomplish if they pulled up chairs around the “tables” of their homes, churches and communities.

The good news is that some are, and more will be. Things are changing.

There’s a new sound on the wind. The sound of men working together in unity; the sound of Godly men coming together in community; the sound of iron sharpening iron; the sound of more accomplishment for the Kingdom of God and less for the kingdom of men; the sound of the enemy fleeing, unable to resist the efforts of collaboration.

You see, there’s a new generation rising. A generation that sees advancement for Christ as a higher priority than personal reputable gain; a generation that’s more interested in making the name of Jesus famous than their own; a generation that’s not threatened by the risk of losing personal control for the sake of greater purpose.

But there will always be those lone rangers; those men unwilling to pull their chair up to the table of masculine community; men who will never believe in anything that isn’t of their own doing. And for that, I’d like to personally say, “I’m sorry.”

I'm sorry if the following raw and unfiltered language offends you, but I’m even more sorry, lone ranger, that your dreams will never be any bigger than you are. I’m sorry that your personal toil resulted in so little gained. I’m sorry that your iron was never quite sharp enough. I’m sorry that you eventually faded out into the haze of jaded, lonely, delusional bitterness. I’m sorry that it ended this way – because it didn’t have to.



photo credit: longhorndave via photopin cc - Image background was slightly altered by Man Up Adventures.

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