Iron & Clay

Have you noticed that some of your friends are more invigorating to be around than others? They motivate you without even trying, and every time you hang out, you walk away a little bit better of a man in some area. They make you want to step up your game. We’re drawn towards these guys. I call these my irons, because they sharpen me (Proverbs 27:17).

In other friendships you might feel like perhaps you are the one pulling them up. Maybe this person looks up to you and sees you as a mentor. This friendship makes you feel smart and accomplished because it can be flattering to hang around someone that you’re able to help. I call these my clay friendships, because I’m molding them. 

Here’s the thing:  We need to make sure we have a good balance of both iron and clay in our life. Too much iron and all our self-improvement never has the opportunity to sharpen anyone else. Too much clay and we grow dull ourselves.

Seek out friendships of both iron and clay, so that you’ll be a sharp enough man to serve as the iron for others.

Get In The Game

I know men whose wife is: raising the kids, buying the clothes, choosing the vacations, managing the finances, planning the meals, monitoring their husband’s cholesterol, and she’s working out every day!

This begs the question: What on earth is he doing? He’s working a lot and making pretty good money, but is that really the extent of what he perceives his role to be? If so, then he’s a benefactor - not a husband; a donor - not a dad.

Being a man means a lot more than providing a paycheck. We need to get off the couch and get involved with our family. Society has lied to us; watching other men play sports isn’t manly. It’s passive, and real men reject passivity.

We need to take our daughters shopping, take our sons to a man’s barbershop, and buy a meal we love and cook it for the entire family. We should know the names of our kid’s teachers, friends, and pediatrician.

Sadly, there are plenty of married women who are doing the work of a single mom because their husband is zoned out on the couch. As American men, we can do better than this!

Focus On Your Strength

If you’re anything like me, you hate to be terrible at something.  I lament the fact that I’m awful at auto repair and woodworking. I would love to be good at those things, and in the past, I’ve considered taking a class on them to improve in those areas.

But even if I took the classes, I still wouldn’t be as good at them as those who are really great. So I’d probably still wind up calling a pro to do the job. And all the while, I would be stagnating on my own strengths.

So here’s what I’ve learned: Stop trying to improve at things you suck at doing. That will only waste your time and make you mediocre at lots of things.  Focus instead on becoming even more incredible at the one or two things at which you’re already really good. Like the adage – Jack of all trades, master of none – we must resist the urge to do 23 hobbies poorly.

We need to embrace the outsourcing of our weak areas and pursue mastery of our strengths. Everyone around us wins when we do this!