4 “Bear” Essentials for Men
For many years, I have taken many personality tests to help me be a better leader. One test used animals’ personality (beaver, golden retriever, lion, and otter), but I have always felt that I was more like a bear. Being a stocky kid, then a burly man with a thick torso, I resembled a bear. My wife and family would say that I am mostly a “teddy bear,” but my inner grizzly comes out when I get really stressed out.
Grizzly bears are violent and dangerous when something appears to be a threat. When someone gets between a grizzly and its food or cubs, then watch out! When someone or something poses a threat to a man’s family, home, or job – lookout! Most of the time, I believe most men are like the black bear who measures a threat and finds a different path. “Grizzly” moments happen for men when they are already stressed out and fight out of a sense of rage.
In 2nd Kings 2, there is a famous story of when Elisha, the prophet (who succeeded the prophet Elijah) met a gang of disrespectful teenage boys who did not honor God and even called the prophet the name “baldy.” We may laugh at the “baldy” comment, but Elijah called out to God to curse the boys, and two female bears came and mauled 42 boys! I think Elisha could not handle one problem that day. The people at Bethel and Jericho wanted Elijah and refused to believe Elisha was the next prophet until he did a miracle.
Read: Learning How to Follow
Every man has critical moments in his life when he cannot bear one more problem. Stress at work or home is pushing you to your limit, and you want to just blast your anger at the offending parties. Knowing how to cope with and healthily release your rage is even more of a struggle if you have been told not to get angry since you were a child. Well-meaning brothers in the faith will even question if your anger is self-righteous or on the side of seeking God’s justice. Here are four “bear” essentials to help you realize the blessings God has for you.
1. Give God the Heavy End of Your Burdens.
Moving is never fun, especially when you have to go up staircases. I now try to have the younger guy take the heavy end or when we move a heavy piece of furniture up the stairs in my “old age.” One interpretation or usage of the Greek word, bastazo, means to carry or bear weight. Worrying is a heavy burden for many men. Financially providing for your family can feel like a great weight of responsibility.
When Jesus saw his disciples struggling, he said,
“Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Mattnew 11:29-30).
Men, no one can avoid responsibilities if they are connected with those they love. Instead of trying to do alone, Jesus promised that God will take the heavy end of our burdens, and we find relief.
2. Carry Yourself Like a Strongman.
Some of you may be young to remember the circus strongman who did amazing feats of lifting huge weights and bending steel to amaze the crowd. The strongman looked the part with huge muscles (i.e., Dwayne “the Rock” Johnson”), but I suggest that the man’s self-confidence was part of his aura.
The second Greek word for bear, pherēte, refers to how you carry yourself as a man and a leader. My dad used to say that a man should be calm, cool, and collected when faced with a challenging situation. In a TV commercial for an antiperspirant, the slogan is “Don’t Let Them See You Sweat.”
When a man is a Christian, he is living with the Holy Spirit and can walk with confidence. He is no longer on his own, but is carrying himself with the hope of Christ as we read in 1 Corinthians 15:49:
“And just as we have borne the image of the earthly man, so shall we bear the image of the heavenly man.”
3. Keep grounded, and you will bear fruit.
The third Greek word for bear, karpophoreó, describes the process of having blessings or burdens in your life. As a young man and newly married, I was uneasy about my job and felt pressure to succeed. I prayed for weeks with no clear answer.
Finally, when I was away at a business conference, I left the evening session early and returned to my hotel room, totally frustrated with God’s silence. As before, I got down on my knees and prayed. After fifteen minutes with my prayers, seemingly going no higher than the ceiling, I opened my Bible to the gospel of John, and God showed me three truths.
- I have to trust in God always (v. 4- grounded and secure in the love of God)
- I am a friend of God’s, and complete joy is possible (v. 11).
- God has chosen me, through Jesus Christ, to bear spiritual fruit that will last for me and those I love and encounter (v 16 – “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you.”)
It takes time for any tree or life to bear fruit. Don’t give up, and don’t give in! Jesus taught in the Parable of the Sower that those who protect and nourish their faith within time enjoy “a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.” (Matthew 13:23)
4. Keep eating the “good” food.
I love chicken fried in peanut oil. Give me some fresh french fries or kettle chips, and I am happy. Food happiness, especially fried foods, is often temporary and regret coming later. The best way to bear the fruit that God desires is to focus on the Holy Spirit;
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. (Galatians 5:22-23).
The Apostle Paul learned to not give in to temptation but chose to be a man of all these great qualities that others admired and appreciated.
As your mind goes, so goes your life. Keep your mind trained on the best God has to offer you. Reject the negativity of the world and the lies of Satan. When I need an extra amount of spiritual encouragement, I read what the Apostle Paul was inspired by God to write in Philippians 4:8-9.
8 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is [g]lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, think about these things. 9 As for the things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.
I will end with the “bear” truths.” Men, you are not alone in your burdens. God will help you bear under the pressure of life. You will be blessed when you help others through their times of need. You will bear fruit that will last because through Christ, you are chosen!
Paul Arnold is a husband, father, grandfather, and currently serves as a chaplain to a senior living facility in Ann Arbor, Michigan. He hosts several podcasts – Man to Man (career advice for men) and Pardon the Confusion (Sports) that are found on iTunes and www.redcircle.com