Sabbath Ramblings: A Boy Who Shaves.

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A few days ago, I emerged from a father-son wilderness survival camp at Twin Eagles Wilderness School—a cold, thrilling, and occasionally harrowing epic experience—with eight other men and their boys, along with my own twin twelve-year-old sons. 

While in that survival camp, snuggled up in my sleeping bag at night as I listened to the pitter-patter of icy cold raindrops against the canvas wall of a traditional tee-pee, I read myself to sleep with a book by former podcast guest Douglas Wilson entitled Father Hunger: Why God Calls Men to Love and Lead Their Families.

In the book (which I highly recommend to any father or future father who is reading this), Wilson describes fatherlessness as a “rot that is eating away at the modern soul.” He points out that most families are starving for fathers, even if Dad is physically “around”, and there’s a huge cost to our children and our society because of it.

One section of the book that really struck a chord for me was when Wilson mentions that men are much more important, crucial, and influential than they believe themselves to be. He says that it is the easiest thing in the world for a man to grow up, get married, have kids, and still think of himself the way he did when he was a boy. Just another dude hanging around the house, making messes, telling jokes and eating food, but not necessarily building a legacy, creating traditions, providing deep meaning and presence and being a rock of protection, leadership and vision for his family.

In other words, he is “a boy who shaves.” He believes that he is just one more person living in this household—just one more of the roommates. The opposite of being a “boy who shaves” is true masculinity, which is the glad assumption of sacrificial responsibility. A man who assumes responsibility is learning masculinity, and a culture that encourages men to take responsibility is a culture that is a friend to masculinity.

So now I'm curious.

If you are a man, son, husband, or father who is reading this, are you still “a boy who shaves?” Or have you embraced the danger, fear, and perils that accompany the great sacrificial responsibilities of manhood?

Are you a father, a leader, and a king, or still a boy?

If the latter, how do you plan to change?

If you indeed still are “a boy who shaves,” then I highly recommend you not only read Father Hunger, but also read this article I wrote about being a real father, leader and king. I'd also like to hear your thoughts below about fatherlessness, stepping up to your responsibility plate as man, and forsaking boyhood while simultaneously embracing tender and loving yet tough and strong masculinity. 

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22 thoughts on “Sabbath Ramblings: A Boy Who Shaves.

  1. Roland H says:

    Twin Eagles Wilderness School is a great project! At one time, I lived without a father, and I understand how difficult it is for a boy to get on his feet without male advice. However, this did not break, but on the contrary, it made me stronger. I began to excel in school because I understood that a real man is a successful man. I graduated from high school with honours and found a high-paying job as a writer. I hope that all the boys who have grown up without a father will follow my example and arrange their lives in the best possible way.

  2. Nick says:

    Fathers hold your hand when things are scary and difficult. Mothers have the important job of hearing all about it.

  3. I can’t wait to read more of Doug Wilson’s books. I’m interviewing him on my podcast this week about his Confessions of a Food Catholic book. Many thanks!

  4. Ross says:

    This blog says to be “be a disciplined leader”, that’s what fatherhood should encompass. Still have fun and joke around and encorporate play heavily into family life. Great thought provoking post Ben!

  5. Rick says:

    Great job Ben, thanks.

  6. Fiona says:

    Ben, thank you for writing such encouraging posts the past few weeks. I can’t agree with you more on the lack of father figures and leadership and authority in today’s society. It is one of Satan’s tactic to destroy God’s intended family unit and mankind. I appreciate you sharing your life and how God is changing and guiding you!

  7. Corey M. says:

    Men have a responsibility to teach, train and equip their family/ children. I view fathers as being coaches on the proverbial playing field. Every Father (coach) should strive to have intentional rhythms to lead their family and instill a strong culture that radiates from the household. If you’re a man reading this, do you have a vision for your family? Do you have values that you instill, do you have weekly, monthly and annual rhythms to lead? We are leaving a legacy, a multigenerational legacy that is bigger than a job, dance, sport or any to-dos distracting you from what really matters. I think it starts with how you view children – are they a burden or blessing. Question everything you’ve heard and the stereotypes here in the states- read Genesis 5 and Psalm 127.. the Primary way the lord blesses the world is through family, just study Abraham- children are a reward, a heritage from the lord. Let’s step up as men, get off the bench and lean in.

  8. What an incredible post Ben! These words and this topic are desperately needed to be spoken to men and women in our country.
    The lack of knowledge of the true masculine in our culture is taking a devastating toll on our children.

  9. Jason Keller says:

    It is in raising children as a Man that we understand that we are raising our grandchildren to be in every moment and fabric of our being. Apple never falls far from the tree so it is important to perfect the roots.

  10. ManInTheMaking says:

    Don’t usually get involved in comments, however I will post here as I am myself on a journey of discovering what being a father means. I am 42 and going through life never being what a man really needs to be, I ended up in a relationship with a woman highly on the narcissistic spectrum. I thought my kindness and need to please and serve would be enough to have a relationship, but lerned that I really needed to work on myself and follow my inner instincts,not listening to propaganda about toxic males bombarding from every angle consciously and subconsciously. Then found dr. Jordan Peterson and he made more sense out of my instincts than anyone ever. also had a lot of help from a friend who divorced such a woman. I was and still am full of questions how couldn’t I have seen what I was doing was wrong and could also have cost me my life, hadn’t I found a job, where I felt confirmation that I am Indeed worth something and I am doing some things right. could write a few pages here, but what I wanted to say here is, it’s not masculinity that’s a problem in this world. it’s mentally I’ll people in powerful positions,insecure little characters incapable of any self reflection and healthy principles, empathy. that’s the toxicity in this world, that’s being wrongfully interpreted as masculinity. shaving boys,afraid of real men. I’d say you can see what kind of a man you are by the way your children treat you.
    could go on for hours about this, every statement could be a debate, and I thank people round me that are willing to agree with me or constructively disagree so I can align myself and find the more or less correct path in life. as for the boy in me, that’s the occasionally fed by spinning the engine of my roadster to 9000rpm limit on a twisty country road :)

    also thank you Ben, went from 120kg to under 90kg in last few years and your information is a great guidance on how to keep going and living healthy.

  11. Martin MS says:

    Great post, Ben. This is incredibly important and amazingly difficult to tackle, if you’re on your own. I’m a father of three, I was in first Men’s group nearly 20 years ago, I’ve read books about men and masculinity from Robert Bly and Sam Keen to Osho and that alcoholic Shambhala teacher whatshisname … and by the way, I’m a psychotherapist myself :-). And every f***ing day I watch myself struggle with my inner “boy who shaves”. Yes, King-Warrior-Magician-Lover is getting stronger, but man, it’s like biking through quicksand …

  12. Billy says:

    These are some great thoughts. Being a father is striving to embody the values that you want your children to develop. You have lead out in that character development and your family will follow suit.

  13. Tobias says:

    I’m not denying the parents responsibility to lead and guide their children to a certain degree. However, if there is something the world doesn’t need more of, it is masculinity

    1. Jenifer says:

      I mean to say this gently to you, Tobias, so please don’t take this harshly…I think that the “masculinity” the world needs less of is a distortion of masculinity and not the true thing the way it ought to be…I don’t know if you know anything about Jesus, but he is the picture of what masculinity should look like, and most people would agree that his personality (even if they don’t accept his divinity) is more of what the world needs.

      1. Tobias says:

        While I’m an atheist, I agree that more Jesuses in this wouldn’t hurt (who by the way had a quite a feminine leading style in my opinion). However, one of the biggest problems is that most corporations and countries are run by too much masculinity. So I believe if there is anything missing in this world, it is femininity. Vishen Lakhiani has some interesting thoughts about that.

    2. Ken says:

      Tobias, as a man, what an embarrassing and misguided statement this is. Did you come from a fatherless family? I’ll pray for you and that you someday see the folly of your statement..

      1. K says:

        Ken, I think you might be misunderstanding Tobias. Feminine energy isn’t female energy. It probably needs a new word. Just like my definition of feminism needs it’s own word. But he’s right, Jesus’ leadership is more aligned with what is now considered “feminine” leadership.

      2. Donna Mills says:

        Ken, I’m wondering how your response could have been more helpful and less punitive? These are the exact conversations that we as a species (beyond gender) need to have. I understand his question and/or comment. It’s valid.

        One way we could approach his concern is to define or ask for his definition of “masculine”… Masculine as an energy that belongs to both male and female humans. Like the yin/yang, we all have a balance of both. A bit of masculine in every woman, a bit of feminine in every man.

        I can absolutely see how uneasy men must feel as we all, collectively, parse out how we wish to human in the midst of daily shifting and changing. We are an evolutionary species… meaning look at how our societies have evolved through the many sectors of our lives: home, work, community, transportation, etc… and our language, our hearts, our faith, our ways of being also evolve. Look at the world Ken… people need each other, and help… and we are better when we help each other. It’s ok for men to re-consider how and who they wish to be in this world… behold, I make all things new… all things new come with new perspectives. So let’s consider this…

        What if we move beyond the terms masculine and patriarchy, and look at the term phallocratic. Masculine is necessary. Bar none. Absolutely. Patriarchal is also necessary, meaning “father, fathering, the beauty of the element of fatherhood.”

        Phallocratic means a society where one is considered and treated “less than” if one does not possess a penis. We cannot achieve “and justice for all…” if some are treated or considered less than because of their gender. Also consider that every person who possesses male genitals, arrived on this planet through female genitals. We both matter. And this is the next best step for humanity is to step into this alignment of equanimity. To be more than boys who shave. Be men who protect the sanctity of all like. All life.

        If you disagree, as you are welcome to, perhaps consider that to be the masculine superiority that Tobias is attempting to avoid.

  14. James says:

    I always look forward to reading any book that Greenfield suggests. Even as a 50 year old man who has been married 29 years with three grown children. 28-15-19. Myself being from gen x. I myself figured out how important it is to be these things he speaks of. I love that fact that we have all this great information at our fingertips. There really is no excuse. As always thank you for your awesome insight.

  15. Roger says:

    Nailed it Ben. A boy who shaves would never have the courage to write what you just did.
    Thank you.

  16. Robbie Bogard says:

    Thank you!

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