Today on Parking Space 23 we are kicking off a new series, Monthly Manliness. While the focus is a lighthearted exhortation to recover the lost art of being a proper gentleman, there is a serious side to the series too. Many men, and young men particularly, in the church still act like overgrown boys. This ought not to be, after all, we are commanded to put away childish things (1 Cor 13:11) and to act like men (1 Cor 16:13). And so we at Parking Space 23 want to do our part in helping you man up, especially if you are a leader in the church or hope to be one day. So strip off those skinny jeans (it is in fact better to be in your underwear in public than to be dressed like a girl), drop that video game controller, grab a cup of black coffee, and listen up. Today our monthly manliness focus is on daily essentials.
My daily kit is pretty simple; watch, wallet, pen and note card holder, and of course a pocket knife. First nothing screams not a grown up like taking your cell phone out of your pocket to check the time, and a man knows there are times when stealing a discreet glance at your watch is essential. And notice I didn’t say digital watch. Next I carry a wallet, and in the wallet are two key essentials, cards with directions to the church and service times, and cash. You need to carry a little bit of cash for small purchases and to tip when necessary. Don’t swipe your debit card to buy gum, a burrito, or a cup of coffee. That subjects merchants to transaction fees for tiny purchases, and it is too easy to lose track of spending if you always swipe your card. A pen and something to write on is essential. Invest in a pen expensive enough that you won’t lose track of it, but not so expensive you would complain too much if you did (As for type of pen, I am sure that will get covered sooner or later). Have something to write on that you don’t have to unfold or uncrumple; if someone asks you to pray for them, write it down; if your wife calls and asks you to pick something up on the way home write it down (And if you are unmarried, a girl might want to give you her phone number. Write it down!). And if I have to explain why you should have a pocketknife, it may be too late for you.
Hug and Kiss your wife daily. Remind her she is the greatest person in your life. Even when she is having a bad day, kiss her and remind her how great she is. Pray for her daily and thank the Lord for her.
Get the tie right. I still remember the day in seminary when our professor walked into the classroom, and, after giving us a look of pity, began to undo his tie. “Men, it’s time some of you got this right.” After all, a man of God is to be orderly and disciplined. But I have seen too many men who do worse for themselves when they try to look professional. The tie is just a start. First, get the length right. Everyone knows about the middle-of-the-buckle rule, but they ignore it when they don’t get it right the first time (or they just don’t care). Second, check your collar. It’s shocking to me how many men I’ve seen wearing ties who were ignorant of the fact that it had escaped the backs of their collars. No one can take you seriously when you look that way. Third, get the pattern right. A plain shirt makes it easy, but when a pattern is involved, settling for a solid tie is a safe play (for boys). Men won’t cower at a tie with a pattern though. Just make sure the pattern on your tie is significantly different from the pattern on your shirt (Don’t wear a striped tie if you’re wearing a striped shirt; don’t wear a checkered tie if you’re wearing a checkered shirt, etc.). And finally, if you’re the guy discontent with an “A” when just a little more will get you an “A+” (I’m not one of those guys), use different knots for different kinds of ties, collars, and/or the size of your neck. To find out more about that, click here. If you really want to outdo yourself, go here. Now that you’ve got the tie business down though, go the extra step and get a real shirt to go with it. After all, “one shirt that fits well is worth ten that don’t.” And cheap shirts never fit well.
Plan some time in your day to think. We live in a culture saturated with information. Our brains are constantly taking in information from social media, other people, magazines, books, websites, advertisements, television, road signs, and the list could go on . . . and on . . . and on. The temptation is to think that because we’re constantly exposing ourselves to so much information that we’re actually thinking about it, taking it in, processing it. But, we’re not. We’ve devolved in a sense, because of the over-saturation of information. Just consider this: Adult human beings now use emoji (What’s the plural of emoji?) to converse with one another. Congratulations, we’ve made our way back to hieroglyphics!
This overabundance of information has led to one very common mistake. We tend to think that because we take in so much data, that we need to schedule time to not-think. Perhaps you’ve found yourself saying things like, “I just need time to check-out, unwind, unplug, give my brain a rest, etc.” The truth is, you actually need time TO THINK! You need time to actually process the information you’re taking in, to reflect on what you’ve seen, heard, or read that day. You need time to consider what you’ve learned, what God is teaching you, and how you can respond in a way that honors him. So, give it a try. Instead of making time for “down-time” every day, where you veg in front of some sort of screen, make time to really think. I’d suggest making it a part of your routine. Keeping a journal can be a huge help in this area, because you have to process what you’re thinking to write it down. Get a nice pen, like John mentioned above, a quiet spot, and get to thinking!
Matt above is correct in all his assertions concerning the tie. But a real man wears a bow tie. Yes, a bow tie. You remember……. that butterfly looking thing around your neck that your mom made you wear for your kindergarten picture. Yes, that. It is very manly. Your mom knew that and now you must own one…..again!
Please hear me out. I am NOT talking about a pre-tied bow tie (girly man alert!!!). I am talking about a legit bow tie in which you must tie it yourself. Yes, that means you need to man-up and learn to tie a proper bow tie. There are many helpful tutorials on youtube, but my favorite is this one, but this (manly) one is pretty good too.
Now, I can start hearing the less-manly men say: “I don’t want to invest in a bow tie. (whine whine).” Fine…………., but you still have no excuse. Neck ties can be turned into bow ties also. Here is the best example.
So man up by getting a bow tie, learning to tie it, and look good. I can promise, people will be oh so impressed and see you are very manly. Oh, and to complete the outfit, get a pocket square. So manly!
(And, thank you to Darren for showing me the bow tie ways many years ago. My manliness has never dwindled since. 🙂 )
Sorry, no fashion advice coming from me. Pastoring a mile from the beach, many days, my biggest decision is which pair of flip flops to wear. I do however have two words for you. Punctuality and Undivided.
Punctuality: Listen men, there’s no such thing as fashionably late. I know everyone is late on occasion due to unforeseen and/or unavoidable circumstances. That happens. But as much as it depends on you, be on time. Better yet, practice Lombardi time: “If you are 10 minutes early, you are 5 minutes late.” Plan to be ahead of schedule. At a minimum, show up on time, to everything, always.
Undivided: Dudes, put the phones away! When you are in a meeting, the next move on Words With Friends can wait. As Jim Eliot famously put it, “Wherever you are, be all there.” Whether it be a conversation with your wife, friend, child, or anyone else, be counter cultural — ignore that buzz or beep and engage in conversation with the human in front of you.
What daily essentials did we miss? What else should be there?