August 9, 2020
I lived much of my life as a boy.
Deep down inside, driving my masochistic forays into twenty years of obstacle course and adventure racing, triathlons, sporting competitions, and brutal workouts was a deep-seated desire to prove to the world that I was a man.
At home, driven by a fear of rejection and resentment by my wife and children, and a preference for people-pleasing, I was loose-handed in discipline or “laying down the law” in any sort of authoritarian fashion. God forbid I would ever be remembered as some kind of tyrant or dictator of the home, so it must be far safer to simply be a likable pushover of a father, right? As a result, my role in the home was as a bit of a Homer Simpson-esque buffoon, a jolly and joking yet ultimately feeble Peter of the Family Guy cartoon, or Phil Dunphy of the Modern Family sitcom.
For years, I considered it a noble act to elevate my wife's status in the home to matriarchal Queen mother and caretaker of the household, yet this simultaneously allowed me to step into the shadows while allowing her to bear the burden of everything from breaking up arguments amongst our boys to ensuring the family was in time for church on Sundays to planning out the family's weekend activities. She was the Queen while I was the happy-go-lucky boyish jester whose presence in the household was more of a third son to her rather than a rock, a foundation, a father, a leader, and a king. After all, I figured it's far better for dad to be “cool” and accepted by his kids than to take on the responsibility of being a strong and inspirational patriarch of the family.
I was a weakling who shirked leadership.
I was afraid of being judged by my family.
I was amiable and charming, yet fragile, delicate, and soft.
But over the past few months, I have been observing the world around me and dwelling upon the way I was “leading” my family and experienced a stark realization: I needed to grow up. Permanent adolescence is a plague upon our society and our families that is threatening to unravel the quilt of culture in the very manner we are now witnessing. You're about to discover why, and what you can do about it—so pay attention, especially you fellas.
Our Fatherless World
When it comes to the way that the world perceives the ideal father, times have certainly changed, haven't they?
For example, while I've never been much of a television and pop culture enthusiast, I have seen old American TV programs from the 40s, 50s, and 60s, such as “Father Knows Best” or “Leave It to Beaver,” both of which—despite their often unrealistic portrayal of the perfect, idealized, nuclear family—depict relatively respectable father figures who lead their families in a strong, responsible and respectable manner. Next came the 70s, where fathers began to be portrayed much like the loudmouthed, uneducated bigot Archie Bunker of “All in the Family.”
Then over the years leading up to our current era, Hollywood's portrayal of a father devolved into the Homer Simpson, the Peter Griffin, and the Phil Dunphy—buffoonish and irresponsible fathers who are largely clowns, pushovers, and weaklings.
Unfortunately, the modern household father has fared no better than the Hollywood father. Not only are fathers more inspired by these type of television portrayals to be likable, funny friends who call their kids “bud,” but they also tend to be present on the smartphone while relatively absent in their children's' lives, able to escape family life via workaholism enabled by a hyperconnected home-office scenario, loose-handed with discipline in fear that a social worker may come knocking on the door asking about 7 am burpees in the driveway, and stricken with the angst of possibly being depicted as sexist, chauvinistic, dogmatic, or any other negative term used to describe a dad who dares to be a strong, hard, dependable, manly, male figure.
Just listen to the shock and awe response of many of the children immersed in my friend Joe De Sena's recent bootcamp for kids he organized as his home in Vermont and described on the Joe Rogan show, and read some of the comments of his description. God forbid children be pushed by older male figures, and exposed to hardship, cold, lifting heavy objects, getting up early, and learning to be tough! I highly doubt the same response would have taken place if adolescent rites of passage were woven into our culture as they had been for eons of time (a topic I address in this podcast), but frankly, most boys never even have an opportunity to experience this ceremonial recognition of their passage into manhood and subsequent societal responsibilities of protecting and providing for their family, their village, their community, and their country.
This modern backslide into male weakness is accompanied by the same censorship of true, honorable manly strength that got former president Theodore Roosevelt fired from his Sunday School teacher position. While at Harvard, Roosevelt actually taught Sunday school at a local church, but apparently he was too much of a muscular Christian (read more on his flavor of muscular Christianity here) for the church body. Case in point: One day a boy came to class with a black eye. He admitted he had been in a fight, on Sunday, no less. A much bigger boy had been pinching his sister and he got into a fistfight with him.
“You did perfectly right,” said Roosevelt and proceeded to give him a dollar. The church vestrymen thought this was going too far and subsequently removed Roosevelt from his position as Sunday school teacher. (These days, I imagine Roosevelt would not only have been removed, but also vilified and canceled on all his social media accounts, and lambasted by women's rights organizations for implying that small women somehow need to be defended by their older brothers.)
But it gets worse. In many households today, not only are fathers not being the kings, leaders, and men they need to be, but there is often no father presence whatsoever, which leads to an even more serious problem.
See, children in fatherless homes begin life at a significant disadvantage. For example, statistics show that the majority of prison inmates come from broken families and that those broken families are most often fatherless families. Furthermore, when fathers aren't present, an entity must step in to take the place of protector and provider. Sadly, that is most often not the local church or parish stepping up to the plate to care for the widows and fatherless, nor a grandparent or other loving family member, but instead, the government.
In other words, fathers aren't present. So government welfare has stepped in to replace the role of a father. Boys raised in such a home grow up without a rock, a foundation and a male leader, and thus rinse, wash, and repeat a vicious cycle—venturing out into the world without a strong sense of responsibility or rite of passage into manhood, knocking up a few ladies, producing more unwanted babies, and propagating a continued cycle of aborted babies and/or fatherless homes.
If it were classified as a disease, fatherlessness would be an epidemic worthy of attention as a national emergency. More than 20 million children live in a home without the presence of a father. Millions more children have fathers who are physically present, yet emotionally absent. You can click here to read plenty more statistics on the sad extent of fatherlessness.
In his book, Hearts of the Fathers, author Charles Crismier notes that many children today who grow up in a fatherless home lack a “God-ordered earthly anchor for soul security”, noting that “It is well known but seldom discussed, whether in the church house or the White House, that fatherlessness lies at the root of nearly all of the most glaring problems that plague our modern, now post-Christian life.” He goes on to point out that children living in female-headed homes have a poverty rate of 48 percent, more than four times the rate for children living in homes with their fathers and mothers.
Another author, Paul Vitz, in his book Faith of the Fatherless: The Psychology of Atheism, writes that—in stark contrast to the fruits of a fatherless home—strong spiritual leaders often had remarkably positive and present fathers or father figures. In one television interview, he states: “I would say the biggest problem in the country is the breakdown of the family, and the biggest problem in the breakdown in the family is the absence of the father. Our answer is to recover the faith, particularly for men, and we’ll recover fatherhood. And if we recover fatherhood, we’ll recover the family. If we recover the family, we’ll recover our society.”
In his recent essay noting the sad state of the church in America and its failure to step up for clear constitutional rights during the COVID quarantine, Doug Wilson says: “The reason why the streets of Chicago are filled with violence is fatherlessness. The reason why so many young people flock to the false allure of socialism is fatherlessness. The reason why there is massive contempt for our institutions is fatherlessness, and the reason why our institutions have become so contemptible is fatherlessness.”
But the fact is, your own home does not need to be fatherless, physically absent of a patriarch, or without the presence of a male figurehead to experience the same issues.
To destroy your legacy, continue to make our nation's families weak, continue to propagate the cycle of poverty and violence, and continue to create a culture of Homer Simpsons, Peter Griffins, and Phil Dunphys, all you need to do is keep being a boy. Your home simply needs to have you, the supposed father, mentally and spiritually absent: a likable, soft-boned buffoon.
How To Be A Man
So what can you as a father do to break this vicious cycle, become a true reflection of the ultimate man that God created you to be, and create a culture of strong, responsible males who will step up for their rights and protect and provide for their families?
I have three suggestions for you.
1. Be a king.
Quit operating in your home as the court jester. Sure, you can be likable, amicable, and a pleasant, kind and joyful presence in your household, but don't take it so far that your children or wife don't take you seriously because you haven't a drop of stoicism or seriousness in your body.
So what is a king, exactly?
Just look up the definition of king in a dictionary…
…a male sovereign or monarch…
…a man who holds by life tenure, and usually by hereditary right…
…a person or thing preeminent in its class…
…or here's the way I like to think of it: Picture Aslan, the great Lion of C.S. Lewis's Chronicles Of Narnia. Aslan is depicted as the King of Beasts, the son of the Emperor-Over-the-Sea, and the King above all High Kings in Narnia. He is awe-inspiring and a bit frightening, but unquestionably benevolent and kind, with unmatched power and unlimited goodness. That is the king you should aspire to be.
Or consider the words of Robert Greene from his book 48 Laws Of Power, in which Law 34 commands those who seek power to “Be Royal in Your Own Fashion – Act Like a King To Be Treated Like One”. Greene explains: “The way you carry yourself will often determine how you are treated: In the long run, appearing vulgar or common will make people disrespect you. For a king respects himself and inspires the sentiment in others. By acting regally and confident of your powers, you make yourself seem destined to wear a crown.”
So act royally if you want to be treated royally and taken seriously. Be sober, be confident, and command respect. If you plan to step up as the king of your family, begin to act like an actual king. How does a king act? Read Proverbs 31: 3-9, in which King Lemuel dictates to his son what it takes to be a true king:
“Listen, my son! Listen, son of my womb! Listen, my son, the answer to my prayers! Do not spend your strength on women, your vigor on those who ruin kings. It is not for kings, Lemuel— it is not for kings to drink wine, not for rulers to crave beer, lest they drink and forget what has been decreed, and deprive all the oppressed of their rights. Let beer be for those who are perishing, wine for those who are in anguish! Let them drink and forget their poverty and remember their misery no more. Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.”
A king must remain alert and in possession of all his faculties at all times. A king cannot afford to let himself fall into a stupor that will erode the respect of others and have devastating consequences should an attack of the enemy occur. A king cannot afford to be careless and sloppy.
Titus 2:2 in the Bible teaches that: “Older men are to be sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, in love, and in steadfastness…”
So are you such an older man, a king, and an inspirational figurehead for your family, or are you still a sober-less, undignified, weak-willed, faithless boy?
Do you need to quit smoking weed and crashing on the couch at night?
Do you need to stop sucking down your “microdoses” of plant medicine and wine and crawling into your basement man cave to escape your responsibilities?
Do you need to begin to speak up for what you know is right and a full expression of your true, authentic self, rather than who you think the world expects you to be or what an unconstitutional silly government clothing, living and shopping mandate being shoved down your throat dictates?
Then do it. Be royal. Be stoic. Be taken seriously. Stand up for what you know is right. Be a king.
2. Be a leader.
Quit lazily allowing your wife (as I did for so many years)—no matter how strong a woman she may be—to step into a position of leadership that places undue stress upon her shoulders and removes responsibility from yours. It is your position as a father to create a culture in your family that inspires respect, love, joy, peace, and trust.
What does being a strong leader of your home look like?
Establish family values and create a culture in your household by leading your family in spiritual disciplines such as meditation, prayer, gratitude journaling, clear identification of purpose statements, and the other practices I teach you about here.
Be present, mentally, physically, and emotionally. Put down your fucking phone. Look your children and wife in the eyes. No good leader is an absent leader.
Create traditions and build a legacy. Remember: you aren't just raising your children, you're raising your children's children, and everything you do in your home—from how you wake to how you eat to how you speak to how you compete to how you create—will all be observed and copied very closely by your children and future generations.
Create calendars, systems, and accountability for your home. Use Google Calendar, use an app or platform like Habitory to hold the family accountable in their daily practices, set up schedules so that family dinners become prioritized and begin to think of yourself (not your wife!) as a manager and chief operations officer of the home, and don't just show up where you're told. Instead, you decide who shows up where and when.
Consider a rite of passage for your boys. Options abound. As I mentioned earlier, I delve into rites of passage on this podcast. Many organizations, often in the realm of wilderness survival and nature immersion, exist to systematize the process of a rite of passage for a young man. Begin by Googling a term such as “wilderness rite of passage NAME OF YOUR CITY for boys.” My own boys will have multiple solo, ego-dissolving days in the wilderness between the ages of 13 and 15, accompanied by a ceremonial coming of age led by the people I trust at Twin Eagles Wilderness School. Following that rite of passage, they'll also experience their first responsibly facilitated use of plant medicines to further dissolve the ego and prepare them to become kings, leaders, fathers, and husbands for life. The rite of passage for your own boys doesn't need to be the same as mine, but hopefully, this gives you some ideas of where to start.
And finally, lead with love. You are not a soulless dictator. You are not a grumpy general who barks orders each morning. You are not a ruthless authoritarian. You gaze at others deeply in the eye, you smile kindly, you hug, you snuggle, you prepare wonderful nourishing meals, you teach with patience, you sacrifice time to be fully present, and you respect your children and your wife. Remember: be an Aslan.
As Doug Wilson says in his excellent book Father Hunger: Why God Calls Men to Love and Lead Their Families:
“What are fathers called to? Fathers give. Fathers protect. Fathers bestow. Fathers yearn and long for the good of their children. Fathers delight. Fathers sacrifice. Fathers are jovial and open-handed. Fathers create abundance, and if lean times come they take the leanest portion themselves and create a sense of gratitude and abundance for the rest. Fathers love birthdays and Christmas because it provides them with yet another excuse to give some more to the kids. When fathers say no, as good fathers do from time to time, it is only because they are giving a more subtle gift, one that is a bit more complicated than a cookie. They must also include among their gifts things like self-control and discipline and a work ethic, but they are giving these things, not taking something else away just for the sake of taking. Fathers are not looking for excuses to say no. Their default mode is not no.”
So be the father and husband who makes wild love to your wife at night, wakes early in the morning to bake your family chocolate chip cookies for the evening family dinner, then rips your boys out of bed to go lift heavy kettlebells in the garage and drag sandbags up and down the driveway—followed by dirty, sweaty bear hugs afterward. But don't be the father and husband who stays absent and distracted with “noble” e-mail and social media work all day, then gathers the family round Netflix in the basement in the evening so they can eat takeout while you have an excuse to dink on your phone some more as they're distracted by their own giant screen.
3. Be a man of God.
Finally, to be a true leader and true king, you must seek your own spiritual fitness diligently and daily. In Father Hunger, Wilson also says:
“… men must seek to be Christians first. If they love Jesus Christ more than mother or father, or wife, or sons, or daughters, then they will be in fellowship with the source of all love. If they make an idol out of any one of their family members, then they are out of fellowship with the source of all love — meaning that the “idol” is short-changed. A man’s wife receives far more love when she is number 2 after God than she would if she were number 1. A man’s children will be fathered diligently when they are loved in the context of a much greater love.”
In other words, you must seek and experience God's love to be able to give full love to your family. You must steep yourself in God's word and be in full union with Him daily.
How is that going for you?
Are you caring for the one component of your human existence that is so often shriveled, shrunken, and neglected inside? If not, listen to this podcast episode I recorded about the Spiritual Disciplines, then, in addition to daily immersion in the Bible, delve into books such as:
- Celebration of Discipline: The Path to Spiritual Growth by Richard Foster
- Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life by Donald S. Whitney
- Spiritual Disciplines Handbook by Adele A. Calhoun
- The Jesuits Guide to (Almost) Everything: A Spirituality for Real Life by James Martin, SJ
- Solitude: A Philosophical Encounter by Philip Koch
That ought to be enough to get you started in your path to spiritual health and becoming a man of God. Now take action. Once the kids are in bed, turn off your phone at night and start reading books like those above. That's what I've done for the past four years and it's been absolutely transformative.
Fortunately, we have a complete manual for being a father in an increasingly fatherless world: the Bible—and I'd be remiss not to finish with what we can learn from the world's only written source of absolute truth. What does the Bible tell us about being a father who reflects the full greatness of God the Father? Plenty! As a matter of fact, fathers are so important in the Bible (beginning with God the Father) that the words “father,” “fathers,” and “forefathers” appear 1,573 times.
Psalm 23:1-6 says: “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflow…”
The Lord is our shepherd, and we as fathers should be the same for our family. You should want to be the father who can walk your own children through fear, through death, through shadows, and through evil, then train them up to be that same kind of shepherding father.
Proverbs 3:11-12 says: “My son, do not despise the Lord's discipline or be weary of his reproof, for the Lord reproves him whom he loves, as a father the son in whom he delights.”, Ephesians 6:4: “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.”, Colossians 3:21: “Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged.” and Psalm 103:13: “As a father shows compassion to his children, so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him.”
So we are to be firm rocks who provide discipline, but always in kindness, compassion, and love—because we delight in our children and wish them the very best. As you look to Scripture for patterns of masculinity, you will find them manifested perfectly in the life of Jesus, who set the ultimate pattern for love and courage in living out the ideal Hero's Journey that I describe here.
Beyond the Bible, there are other resources besides those I have already mentioned above that I recommend to you and encourage you to read if you want to continue in your evolution to becoming a true man, a king, a father, and a leader in your home—including Be A Man! Becoming the Man God Created You to Be by Larry Richards and Future Men: Raising Boys to Fight Giants by Doug Wilson (who wrote the equally good Father Hunger cited earlier). In addition, here's a link to an Amazon list I created two years ago. It contains several other titles that I'm reading with my own boys—titles I chose to make boys great men and men greater men.
How about you? Do you plan to step up to the plate and accept the responsibility of your role as a father, a leader, and a king? How are you rising to the occasion for your family and being a rock and a foundation for your wife and children? What resources have you found helpful? If you are a woman who is patient enough to still be reading, what do you want to see men doing more of? Leave your comments, thoughts, and replies below. I read them all.
Finally, do me a favor: Share this post far and wide. We need strong men, and I have a hunch—said in full humbleness—that it will make a difference if more people read essays such as this.
77 thoughts on “Sabbath Ramblings: Be A Man.”
A fatherless home does not mean it is broken! It was broken with him in it , now it is happy and healthy. If all fathers stepped up to the plate like you describe here that would be great but they don’t, so a lot of us mums do it alone and very well. I am raising a strong boy and a strong girl we are badass not broken
Great article for Dads. How do you think it would change if you had twin 12 year old girls instead of boys?
It would change a LOT. Girls are different than boys. Oh crap…I just realized I'm not supposed to say that. ;)
Say it Ben! Keep on teaching the truth. (By the way, I’m a woman, 66 yrs.ol in fact.) I thank God that He’s raised up men like you to be teachers and leaders of men and boys!
Highly recommend you read the book The Chalice and The Blade, Ben. Renee Eisner brings a well researched socio-anthropological perspective to gender roles, from pre-history through modern society. She theorizes the “Dominator” vs “Partnership” models.
Do you have a link to that Doug Wilson essay??
Thank you for this, Ben Greenfield. The Return of the Kings! You might also consider following Pastor R. C. Blakes on YouTube. He talks a lot about the King & Queen Consciousness.
Hi Ben Thoughtful and well said. I would add the following which hamper good fathers:
Gynocentrism, misandry, being unconscious of paedeomorphism, current laws controlling family court decisions, the idea that culture is reality, the idea that testosterone should influence wisdom. 3 men who lived near you and were good “fathers”: Chief Joseph & Chief Whitebird, Chief Sealth(Seattle). Glad you are incorporating technologies of the sacred into the raising of your sons. Modern western Christian culture which permeates all of north america, most of south america, europe and large parts of Africa is the only culture which does not integrate those technologies into rights of passage or regular ritual. Christian culture used to but long ago gave it up. The other abrahamic religions aren’t much better but that can change. Much more can be said about the topic you have raised.
Great read, thank you. Question for Ben or any other wisdom reading this.
One thing your article doesn’t really tackle, is how to fill the void left behind by a boyish father. I’m in my early 20s and have spent the past few years learning from a collection of mentors, among which I’d say you are, in my pursuit of finding men with attributes I’d like to try embody.
In becoming a man, I’m wondering what the best ways are to make up for lost lessons, rights of passage and other facets of upbringing that would’ve been useful in creating the man I hope to become.
Enforcing self discipline and a set of principles I live by, has been a step forward in the right direction for me, but this article makes me wonder what I’m missing.
Is there a “right of passage” one can do in later years? Or any other more routine actions that can create this effect?
I have had a range of experiences with psychedelics and my relationship with those compounds are such that I know going back to those at this stage in my life is unwise – so its not that.
These experiences and my temperament also make it difficult for me to buy in to a Christian God. I can appreciate the wisdom in the Bible, and it’s study is something I’ll consider, but again I can’t bridge the leap of faith required to fully buy in to what I’m reading – so its not that.
I haven’t spent any time in real solitude, so perhaps its that?
I haven’t had a truly significant relationship with role models – outside of those I read, listen to and watch from behind my computer – so perhaps its that?
There’s also a bunch I could not be considering, any feedback or advice is appreciated.
Call to action
Call to end laziness
Call to lead
Well reminded Ben
Many many thanks for the truth
I am a single mother of two boys (3 &4). I am constantly reading article’s or books that will help me be both mother and father. I seek to raise strong Godly men who will not fall into normal statistics.This article has been extremly informative and I appreciate all of the book recommendations. Thanks!
This post deserves a solo podcast.
Thank you so much Ben. Just…thank you.
Great stuff Ben! Thank you for speaking the truth in love. Stay the course.
Ben, It’s been fun and encouraging to “watch” you integrate your faith and your life/business in a thoughtful and public way. Keep following the Lord wholeheartedly!!
I really enjoyed this and found it powerful and heartfelt. I’m always impressed by your authenticity, and though I’m not religious and am uncertain about my own spiritual beliefs, I love that you are outspoken about yours.
While I agree with much of what you say here, I sometimes feel uncomfortably excluded by many of the gender defined roles reflected here. If you are straight and have 2.4 children it fits quite nicely, if you are not, as many of us aren’t, it can feel uncomfortable. Spiritual and fitness gurus alike tend to fall back on evolutionary arguments that on the one hand make complete biological sense, and on the other Hand leave me personally confused, especially from a spiritual standpoint.
I have no point to make except that really. I’d be interested to hear any discussion on your thoughts on this..
Thank you for writing an eye opening article. Am very inspired by your works. Keep it up!
Hi, I’m a woman and been a subscriber ever since I heard you on Mindvalley! Your content is very inspiring and actionable, speaks to my mind…I’m not a Christian, I’m a practicing person of another faith and resonate with all the learnings you put up, God bless!
As a woman, I’d like to see more encouragement and write ups by influential men on ‘ why a strong man should contribute to cooking food and creating nourishment for the family – because as I see it there’s only good when a husband/father takes a significant lead too in the food preps. In my humble opinion ‘3 times meals for life’ for a family doesn’t work out too well in the long run when it’s shouldered by the mother alone. I have persistently observed the need for new thinking patterns, for creativity and for effective team play from the kitchen to the table. I’d love to hear your detailed thoughts on this given it’s a complex topic in today’s relationships, changing dynamics, confused gender roles and all…
Would you (or have you ever?) talk about how porn is ruining men for fatherhood? You didn’t QUITE touch on it, but man! It’s so ubiquitous. I am seeing abdication of fatherly leadership, and even worse things, by dad’s hooked on porn. It’s a massive problem.
Ben, you are so right. I got pregnant at 19 and got married to a boy who did not want to work a full time job and provide, he left me for another women, never paid child support, and ended up getting the other women pregnant and did the same to her. Our son grew up and was in and out of prison and a drug addict for years. He is 32 now and finally drug free. I got re married and had 2 boys with my new husband, he was better in some ways, but a little bit chasing his music dream in Nashville our entire 27 years together, putting all the financial burden on me, to the point of men suffering chronic insomnia for 10 years now and in adrenal fatigue and I still have to work. We are still together and he is broke. He had spent thousands of dollars running to Nashville to record his original songs and chasing a record deal or publishing contract, now he is 62 and has nothing. I separated myself financially from him years ago or he would of had us homeless on the street!! All in the name of music!!! Now our boys 19 and 23 are pot smokers, dropped out of high school! They are pursuing a rap music career. My dad was killed when I was 8 so I also grew up in a fatherless home, which led me to not be a good picker of a man! I choose boys that I have to take care of. I wish I knew all this that you wrote a long time ago. All I can do now is pray God will heal my family and everything will work out🙏..
Hey Ben! Thanks for another fantastic article… er… rambling. :o) I listen to all of your podcasts at least once, and can’t help but notice the evolutionary reasoning that comes from most of the experts in the health space. And I’ve heard you disagree with one of your guests, when he made such a comment. I’VE BEEN THINKING, FOR SOME TIME, that you would enjoy a terribly interesting book, which discusses 50 (PhD) scientists who have examined the evidence and decided that the world truly was created during a special 6-day creation. Further, it would likely be great for your boys. If you or your followers are interested, here it is: “In Six Days: Why Fifty Scientists Choose to Believe in Creation”. Thanks for everything, be strong, and keep up the good work!
Thank you man. I’ll check this book out
Ben, you have found a new gear in your transmission!
I’ve been following you ever since you passed me on the run like Carl Lewis on hot coals 15 + years ago at the Leadman Triathlon.
You are now doing your finest work.
As the 65 year old father of 4 daughters and 6 grandchildren, it is more clear to me now that the man you are becoming is more like the man I wished I had been more like in my youth.
As a business owner, church elder, ski racer, holistic endurance sport enthusiast, volunteer counselor, there was always something noble to pull my attention away from the real first thing.
This type of truth and wisdom is currently in short supply.
Thank you for your courage.
Great article and really resonate with the message. If you haven’t already, I’d highly recommend the book “Becoming a King” by Morgan Snyder. It aligns exactly with what you said and I think you’d really resonate with the books message.
Thanks for this article! I’ve been teaching a group of men at my church for several years now. I would say most of the young fathers are in the same boat you were in as a leader of their home and most realize it needs to change. Taking back the mantle of leadership that they have abdicated to their wives may not always be an easy transition though without having serious conflicts with their wife. Do you have any suggestions for young husbands as to how they can lovingly talk to their wives about making the changes that need to be made?
I am going through this very same transformation right now. My 4 children deserve the example of a strong, kind father that they know will be there with them every damn step of their path. 2 years ago I had to do the 180. It has not been easy, but wow has it been worth it, and it all starts by looking at the dude in the mirror. Fix that guy first, and that will be your foundation.
Love ya, Ben. I mean it. Thanks for everything.
I have forwarded your writings and podcasts to many people in the last few years. Before this article, I wouldn’t have directed men to you for advice or inspiration on how to be a man or lead a family. I will be forwarding this article to more than a few men and women today. Undoubtedly, the best article you’ve written. Much respect.
Wow! This literally comes at a time when I needed it most. I have a beautiful wife and two boys 2 & 7. This has inspired me to be more and to improve myself so that I can be a true leader and king. This topic is one that needs discussed more in America!! You have a new fan Mr. Greenfield.
Excellent article and desperately needed at this time. I think about the elderly woman with a walker who was doused with paint for trying to put out a fire threatening police officers. They must have been raised by wolves, maybe not but certainly poorly. I tweeted your article because it needs to be widely read. Thanks for your courage Ben.
I have been following your blog with interest. I have just released a book that may interest you on the same subject as your recent blog on fathers..
I think you would resonate with it. Ira
Cool… I’ll check it out.
This stuff takes real guts to write in times like these. I’ve always been impressed by your knowledge and work, but I have to say that courage in writing this is far more impressive than any of those things.
Wow. What a gifted writer. So powerful. Such truth. I can always feel your emotions. As a 49 year old man that was raised by my mother after my pops left when I was nine. I can say your words are true. I’m in a good place these days. Life- work -inner being . The hard lessons I’ve learned makes me the dad the husband the man I I’m today Keep up the good work you do my brother! For myself I find I must constantly be keeping watch of my mind. Not letting everything being a reaction. Looking at Everything (is this the best decision ) I can make for myself and my family. At the same time not taking life so serious that I can’t have some fun along the way. Yes we need to be strong-loving-nurturing parents leading the ones we brought into this world. At the same time letting them find who they truly are. 29 years of marriage this year wouldn’t have happened without a strong faith. My wife and our three adult children are very close very unique in today’s world. Love your teachings. Love your openness. The five of us are now reading your book Boundless. Very impressive. Thank you for the work you do and the love you have for your kind!!!
Brave, truthful and spot on. Drilling down into the root causes of all our first world society tries to put a bandaid on. It’s not easy to humble yourself to timeless wisdom, and we humans will always struggle with that. We don’t like being told what to do, and let’s face it-do we really trust God? Having spiritual, mental and physical strength requires going to the “gym” on a consistant basis. This “elder” thanks you.
As a retiring medical professional, “Boundless” is my textbook for the next step in the evolution of health care. A masterpiece.
Great points Ben.
I think you would find this book interesting on the topic of “perpetual adolescence” and “the infantilization of youth”.
The idea of a teen is a modern idea that is one of the reasons adults (especially men) are weak these days.
We need our boys to become men and not put it off with a contrived conception of youth.
Hmmm. There were a couple of alarm bells for me in this article. Although I believe that much of it holds true. I will follow with interest to see how you unfold with this.
The main thing I will share with you now, is that, I, as a woman and mother, do not want a leader. I want a partner. Someone who makes decisions with me, not for me – even if they think that decision is in my best interests. As a capable adult human being, the things that affect my life do not need to be decided by someone else, whether that be my partner or a pompous parliamentary official – as we have here in Melbourne.
A strong partnership brings peace and prosperity to a family.
Ben. As a 22 year old with no wife and kids (Of course), this was deep. It made me think and reflect considerably so now that my father passed away 3 years back…
Wow! Great essay Mr Greenfield. It really spoke to me. Almost felt as if it was written specifically for me. My wife and I were literally having this conversation 20 mins before I sat down to read your ramblings. I agree with what you wrote. The key is finding that strength and leadership through Love and not strength through strength……Have you ever looked into messianic Christianity or TORAH obedient Christianity? Talk about delving deep into the WORD! Very freeing and fulfilling. Keeping Sabbath and the festivals and rituals as commanded by GOD in the TORAH has deepened my LOVE for the LORD and in turn my wife and children……Worth looking into!…….Thank you for this essay!!! GOD Bless brother……
Put this in The Seattle Times, please!
Much needed insight! Thank you for inspiring us to resist the societal pressure to be video game-playing manchildren. Strong fathers produce strong young men who produce a better societies.
I would have been honored to have had a brother, father or a son like Ben Greenfield. In my fifties I began major overhaul of my life, successfully shedding most of the vestiges of the buffoon like nice guy father figure who was somewhat lacking in the leadership category and a mother who was a spoiled brat, they were at least really nice good people otherwise. Its easier to raise strong boys than to fix broken men. As such I chose not to father any children by accident or on purpose, best decision I have ever made. Dan Peña goes into great detail on parenting, fasten your seatbelts if you chose to listen as it gets pretty rough.
Dan is definitely a trip!
This was absolutely amazing! Man, this practice will add to my testimonial!!! Well, played sir!
I love your Sabbath Ramblings and I think they are some of your best work. They are raw, authentic, and say things that need to be said but are usually avoided. As the queen of a husband who’s father was overwhelmingly domineering and frightening, I live with a man who doesn’t want to make any decisions about our household or life because he doesn’t want to be like his dad. Clearly this is a multi-generational issue and I applaud you for seeing that and bringing it to the table for discussion. I do feel burdened by handling all the details and he blows it off by saying he’s “letting me choose what I want”. There is a difference between authoritarian and king and part of my gratitude for today is for your writings and the doors they open. I have lived and worked in South America where the family structure is more extended and there is typically an uncle or grandfather that can provide the male guidance for the family if the father is absent. There is an old stereotype of the machismo but in my experience, they are very much lions protecting and guiding their loved ones. I was raised in rural Washington and it was amazing to see Sundays in the Plaza (in nearly every town and anchored by the church) where groups gathered to prioritize being families in love with themselves and God.
Thanks! That inspires me to keep writing!
Fantastic article and such a timely message. The nuclear family is the cornerstone of civilization and freedom. We need strong men to be men, and strong women to be women. The current culture scape is poison for our survival. Thank you for writing this piece. Family is what really matters.
Such a beautiful article, Ben! I realize how very lucky I was to have a Real Man as a Father growing up!
I must say, however, that there are Way too many women who still act like little girls…
It’s time, and past time, for every man and woman to put their “Big” pants on!
Be strong, and stand in your power! You are Divinely made, and for a purpose in this world.
All blessings on you, and on each and every One,
This is a great article Ben. Thank you for your comments.
It would be easier to pass it along as you requested, to my friends of faith, if the article did not contain profanity.
It is only VERY occasionally I would use "strong language" like that…and only when dramatic emphasis is crucial. You may find this interesting: https://relevantmagazine.com/life5/what-bleep-doe…
Check out “The Chosen”. You can go to YouTube and watch some short clips, or download the series on google play.
The Bible uses strong language and rated R depictions. Open minds and hearts are what is needed. Not formulaic rules and thinking. Note: you may have to think for yourself and every generation even in Jesus’s time was largely wrong and hypocritical.
Excellent post and way over due.
The destruction of the nuclear family will be the primary reason for the death of America.
What an amazing article! As a mom of 3, I would love to see more parenting posts!
So true and well expressed! As a teacher for 25 plus years I see firsthand the devastating results of fatherless homes and the breakdown of the family. Some sage advice here, Ben, as to how we can begin to mend the family unit. Too often becoming a parent is approached in a frivolous, unplanned manner (which is a whole other topic); but when given or taking on this task, fathers and mothers need to realize the immense importance of their roles in raising secure, happy, well adjusted children and future productive members of adult society. Admirable father leaders and role models appear to be in short supply; thank you for addressing this far reaching topic with concrete methodologies fathers can strive to develop. I love your Sabbath Ramblings Ben!
Bless you Ben. This world is at war with Godly direction on how men and women are to act. We are at a time in history as mentioned in 2 Tim 3 when it says:
1 Be sure of this. In the last days hard times will come.
2 People will love themselves. They will love money. They will talk about themselves and be proud. They will say wrong things about people. They will not obey their parents. They will not be thankful. They will not keep anything holy.
3 They will have no love. They will not agree with anybody. They will tell lies about people. They will have no self-control. They will beat people. They will not love anything that is good.
4 They cannot be trusted. They will act quickly, without thinking. They are proud of themselves. They love to have fun more than they love God.
5 They act as if they worshipped God, yet they do not let God’s power work in their lives. Keep away from people like that.
I see the Lord separating the sheep from the goats. HE IS DRAWING THOSE WHO TRUST HIM CLOSER AND CONVICTING US TO FULFILL THE DESTINY THE HOLY TRINITY WROTE FOR US BEFORE TIME BEGAN.(PS 139:16)
Lord Jesus, bless those who read the article and comment. Let them know You and serve you with all their being.
This is SO spot on, it brought tears to my eyes. Well done. Well stated. Thank you for putting this out there!
Me, too. Wow, if men would only grow up and be the leaders in their homes and honor God. It would change the world.
Boom! Ben. You nailed it on this one. The two main categories truly hit home with me.
1. Those families without a father present have a verified disadvantage.
2. I wear the masculinity-mask if being a jokester. And it’s time I put down the funny-man mask in order to lead my family and my business.
Thank you for this post
Bravo Ben, bravo! The joys and self-fulfillment of being a strong and God-loving father and husband cannot be overstated, especially in these trying times. Damn great article! Loved the line…”put down the f$%#ing phone!”
Such a timely article, thank you for writing. In this cultural climate, it takes guts to speak this truth.
In addition to Father Larry Richards’ book “Be A Man”, may I recommend the new book from Fr Don Calloway: “Consecration to St Joseph” (Marian Press). Fr Calloway breaks open little known knowledge of the strength of Jesus’ earthly father and gives information on why now, more than ever, we need the spiritual fatherhood of St Joseph to help us protect marriage and families.
Fr Don Calloway, the author, himself has a backstory you do not want to miss- very interesting stuff!
I echo your sentiment on Father Calloway’s book. Accepting St. Joseph as our spiritual father will help families everywhere.
There have been many demonstrations on human rights recently including me too movement which i believe that it fights for equality for men as well as for women as whatever gender, we all need to share our concerns of society’s problems universally. Both genders need to listen to each other, men must be brave enough to show their emotional side of themselves, women must be brave enough to show their potential side of themselves, all need to give and take respect with a small step for the new future.
Best article ever. This new Ben is awesome. Thank you for bringing THE Father to light. You reach so many and it’s refreshing to see you use this platform for the greater good yet keep it real and practical.
Dear Ben, I have followed you for years. I love your podcasts and have learned much more about my body and my health from you than just about anyone else. I also bought your recent book, Boundless. It is truly a work of art and passion. For that, thank you. You have given all of us a reference book and roadmap to put us on the road to being all that we can be through optimized human performance. For that, I am forever grateful. And yet, all of us know that if we change our bodies, but not our souls and spirits, we might still feel a void or hole in our lives. That hole often arises from the lack of a father in the home, a father “who was not part of my life”, an absentee father, or a father who was moody and not present. Which of these “father-types” you experienced growing up is only part of the story. The fact is that we all need to recognize that the only way we will restore our broken society is by restoring ourselves and our families. God made man to be the spiritual leader of the household. That combines two words – spiritual (a relationship with God) and leader. If all of us who are men, and especially fathers, don’t step up to this responsibility, we will leave the next generation devoid of a sense of purpose and order through faith and spirituality. This, in turn, will leave the next generation to be susceptible to the empty promises of alternative societal norms and social structures. “If you don’t stand for anything, you will fall for anything”. Ben, I know you are busy, but I just wonder whether you could start a podcast solely focused on manhood and the role of men as spiritual and family leaders. May I suggest that you have your father on as your first guest. Your original podcast with him was amazing. Thank you for this article…and may God continue to bless you and your family.
This was a fantastic comment. So thoughtful and well said. Thanks Chris. You are spot on. 🙏🏻
Well said Chris, and thanks for the insightful quote. Yours? I would also love to hear a podcast on the subject. Bring more light and guidance on this subject to all.
Thanks Chris, and yes…I'll definitely consider that…or at least featuring more fathers/leaders on the BGF show!
A most welcome intervention – not a moment too soon.
Excelent article. The word needs to be spread out becuase society now a days Is covering it with dirt and upholding a weak victimize agenda, with no accountability I’ll do my part by leading and spreading the word by example. I’m raising my daughter and it should holds true in raising girls too. To become the Queens and share a throne with kings as compliments of strength, compassion and faith.
Love your posts and everything.But I have a question. How do I Access your secret Boundless Book web page if I got the book on audible?
Even as a feminist, I do think that man have not had positive and strong male models in their lives. Being strong for a man don’t equate with abusive or dominant like many think it is. It’s a state of strenght like would be a strong female model. We, as a people, are often scared of strong roles, we are scared of ourselves shining, of our light, like would say Marianne Williamson. And shining is also being alive from a strong place of responsibility, stewardship and relation to our spouse, partners, children and environment.
Thank you Ben for this article, I really appreciate you standing up:)) Continue to write, I love what you do and inspire me.
One of the best, if not the most important article you’ve ever written!
Bring on the Kings!
Excellent article! You say everything and more of what I say to the men, young and old ( women too) who come to see me for counseling and guidance on how to improve their family relationships. I will be sharing this article often, starting now. I look forward to reading your Sunday morning articles. Thank you for taking the time to write them.
Ben, you are on point. Thank you. As a man of God, Military rescue pilot and now EMS rescue pilot, i feel i have devoted far too much time and effort outside of my own home but have earned the respect and love of my children nonetheless. You are wise to teach christian principles and these have steered me and my family by me all my years. My family and children grow as they have been watered and fed with this great knowledge. But as you eluded, a force that seeks to undo and unravel the “quilt” as you described is tireless and without scruples and attracting our children to live adolescent lives as you said. Mine included. As they get older now (14, 18 and 22) my throne is tested. Liberal philosophy and lies, antagonistic media and mindless soulless junk to keep them distracted and humored, is pervasive and a growing problem even in my house. I commend you for your terrific following while you lead family and all of us to question our family dynamics and do better, be better fathers. Thank you! I would love to support your efforts more directly and beyond philosophically. Let me know if there is anything i can do to help.
Paul LaRoche 586-212-6119
Ohh, this is exactly what I want my husband who is also my business partner to hear…I have sent to him with some highlights. I want a partner, not a 3rd child or employee. Yes our boys and our men need to lead and love be the King and give us Queens a break. I love my family but I never wanted to be the Queen but I’ve stepped up to ensure everything keeps moving. It worries me greatly that there are so many boys (& girls) who don’t have a father or father figure, it is so important. thanks Ben.
What a lovely piece of work, a masterpiece really! I will certainly spread this around because the world needs this so our next generation will grow to become leaders of their families and of the world. This rambling as you call it resonates so much with me it brings tears to my eyes. I can’t help but think the world would not be in such chaos right now had you been the father of the fatherless children because you are the type to practice what you preach.