Well men, we are never prepared to be defeated by life. We expect to win in all we do. And we are not wimps, you are not a man if you are expecting to lose. That’s not the masculine thing to do. When it does happen we feel totally out of control. We cave in… it’s over. We feel like everything has gone out of control and we don’t respond well we are really confused. We now become slaves to the wounds. We are caught off-guard because, most men today didn’t have a father that modeled or taught us how to get through this wounding process.
Maturity comes only through adversity. “Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him.” (James 1:12) In the Bible, the word temptation can also be taken as trials. So when a man has withstood the test, he will receive the crown of life God has promised to those that love Him.
How many times as a child or adolescent did you hear the words, “grow up?” Does anyone really know what grown up looks like? The only thing we know is that whatever it looks like maturity only comes through the crucible of pain. Through the pain we learn who we are, what we are like, what we should do, and what or who we should be. Mr. Bly reminded men that the path to adulthood often takes a detour through Woundedville. But it leads to the mature man, the resurrected ruler of the soul, the ish kind of a man.
The Meaning of Ish:
This is a Hebrew word that translates into, “man”, “mankind, or “Husband.” The adult male or mature man. Ish speaks not only of man but also of God. The husband of His people. (Hosea) The most important aspect of Ish is its reference to the adult male. This in contrast to the young man “yeled”.
Attributes, the Mature male is known for his attributes.
He is a man of something…
A man of bravery. (1 Samuel 4:9) A man of good presence or good looking. (1 Samuel 16:18) A man of Kindness. (Proverbs 11:17) A man of smooth skin or hairy skin. (Genesis 27:11) A man of understanding. (Proverbs 17:27) A man of peacefulness. (Psalm 37:37) A man of trustworthiness. (Exodus 18:21) A man of the priesthood. (Leviticus 21:9) A man of the King. (Exodus 2:14) A man of war. (Deuteronomy 2:14) A man of God, this is used 75 times in the Bible. Also a man of the Spirit in Hosea 9:7. So we can see that a mature man is a man of attributes and he knows who he is. He has decided to stop living through the eyes of someone else and lives his own life.
Ish is also used with reference to a women and shows differentiation. Ish is the husband of a woman. For a boy to become a man he needs to break free of mommy, find his father. After this he must also break free from his father and become the man he will be by finding himself. Sometimes a wife ends up becoming a second mother and a woman can never make a boy into a man. There is a point when a boy must say goodbye to the Woman and become a man. It may not be just the differentiation from women but may be parents, teachers, pastors, churches, systems or friends Don’t get me wrong, these all have their place but can be barriers to personal development. This can be called, “detribalization,” we are all tribalized in some way and need to break free to reframe the disillusionment and wounding we suffered. We need to break away from someone else’s agenda and follow our own.
A mature man is also known for his individualization. Differentiation shows what a man is not, but a man must also show what he is. So who are you? Can you answer that question? Who really knows who this person is? Only God knows you and me personally and perfectly, because our self-knowledge is distorted. If a man is going through a mid-life crisis in order to do an appraisal he must look inward. It is a time to discover what the turmoil was all about. Time to find out where he hurts and find his wounds to be licked. He needs to become more engages with himself to determine how he feels about a lot of things. The prerequisite for maturity is to know what you want to be and do and to know what you do not want to be and do. Then you can become your own man.
It’s now time to re-kindle the dream. Time to dream again but you will modify the original vision and have a different perspective on it all.
You see, now we will swing a little less often but when we do swing the world had better look out! You have now challenged a mature male at the heart of his dedication.
John Henry Newman, the founder of the Oxford Movement, was rejected by both the Anglican Church (his church) and the Catholic Church he was converting to. He wrote this: “God has created me, to do Him some definite service; He has committed some work to me which He has not committed to another. I have my mission-I may never realize it in this life, but I shall be told in the next. I am a link in a chain, a bond of connection between persons. He has not created me for nothing. I shall do good, I shall do His work. Therefore, I will trust Him. Whatever, wherever I am. I cannot be thrown away.”
So by getting in touch with who we are and doing the appraisal work needed we can be on a better positon to continue our growth. The warrior is really a one-dimensional man focusing on his weapon. The phallic male is focusing on nothing but his penis. The wounded male is unable to see past his hurting and his pain. Now the mature man (Ish) is finding a new richness in his life he has never experienced before. This does not mean the man has become an isolated man away for those he cares about. He is also a relational man.
Ish is a relational man.
Ish gets used sometimes along with a similar word for women, Ishah. This is seen in Genesis 2:23 where Adam gave his wife a name similar to his own. (Ish) but with a feminine ending. A mature man fids equality with a woman. She is like him, as proven in this scripture and she is not an animal to be Lorded over. Nor is he a wimp without authority to name her. Things now get more serious between a man and his wife. Both parties are no longer playing any games. Sex can be based on complete, unabashed union of their spirits. They know each other very well. There now is sexual freedom and the relationship has a new dynamic. That means we now have the liberty of enjoying our wives for the glory of God. The best sex is yet to come.
Ish is also involved in civic and social responsibilities. He is a man of fiends. (Proverbs 18:24)
Ish is a man that is belonging to certain groups, whether to his tribe or nation. (Numbers 25:6, Judges 10:1) He is also a man that holds a wide range of civic and social responsibilities. (Exodus 21-22) A mature man is involved in his church, in his work and in his community, he is involved in his family activities and all the things he simply enjoys.
And Ish is now becoming a royal type of person and is taking control and rules his life.
Ish as a Royal Man
“And it shall be, when he sitteth upon the throne of his kingdom, that he shall write him a copy of this law in a book out of that which is before the priests the Levites: And it shall be with him, and he shall read therein all the days of his life: that he may learn to fear the Lord his God, to keep all the words of this law and these statutes, to do them: That his heart be not lifted up above his brethren, and that he turn not aside from the commandment, to the right hand, or to the left: to the end that he may prolong his days in his kingdom, he, and his children, in the midst of Israel.” (Deuteronomy 17: 18-20)
Men of Royalty such as Priests and Prophets, and messengers of God are often called ish Elohim or “man of God.” A mature man is one who will rule his life with the wisdom of scripture. He is required to meditate on God’s word daily and to tune out other voices. (Psalm1).
The blessing of maturing to the Ish kind of man is that you no longer listen to counsel of evil men, but only to the insights obtained by diligent meditation on the Word of God. The mature man listens to the voice of God in Scripture.
“Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the Lord; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.” (Psalm 1:1-2)
An Ish Bible Character
Elijah- Prophet of God.
He defeated the prophets of Baal and embodies the wounded warrior who grows up and mentors another younger man. He showed all the qualities and came through all the stages that typify the Mature Man. (1 Kings 17-19) (2 Kings 1-2) The young Elijah did everything God told him to do and God came through for him using supernatural strength. He multiplies food and raises a widow’s son from the dead. (1 Kings 17) This was a fantastic start for a young warrior prophet! Now Elijah is ready for the big times. God calls on him to take on the Canaanites and King Ahab along with the Prophets of Baal.
This has all the elements of the warrior challenge. It has emotion, dreams, victory, pomp, and courage. (1 Kings 18) In 1 Kings 19: 1-2 Ahab tells his wife Jezebel of what is happening and Jezebel goes ballistic. She put a hit on Elijah’s life. Now how does Elijah handle this? He runs for his life. Here is a man that has experience with God taking care of him. Why did he run this time? There is no answer but I do know men have weak moments when they are at their breaking point.
So now all the elements of wounded behavior show up. Retreat, licking his wounds, self pity, depression, giving up the cause, and this is all in 1 Kings 19:3-10.
“And when he saw that, he arose, and went for his life, and came to Beersheba, which belongeth to Judah, and left his servant there. But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a juniper tree: and he requested for himself that he might die; and said, It is enough; now, O Lord, take away my life; for I am not better than my fathers. And as he lay and slept under a juniper tree, behold, then an angel touched him, and said unto him, Arise and eat. And he looked, and, behold, there was a cake baken on the coals, and a cruse of water at his head. And he did eat and drink, and laid him down again. And the angel of the Lord came again the second time, and touched him, and said, Arise and eat; because the journey is too great for thee. And he arose, and did eat and drink, and went in the strength of that meat forty days and forty nights unto Horeb the mount of God. And he came thither unto a cave, and lodged there; and, behold, the word of the Lord came to him, and he said unto him, What doest thou here, Elijah? And he said, I have been very jealous for the Lord God of hosts: for the children of Israel have forsaken thy covenant, thrown down thine altars, and slain thy prophets with the sword; and I, even I only, am left; and they seek my life, to take it away.”
God responded to Elijah’s wounded warrior needs. (1 Kings 19: 15-18)
God provided rehabilitation for his personal needs. God focused on what drives him. God showed himself in quiet and obvious ways and used no special effects. God rejects the self-pity. God renews the vision for Elijah to carry on. God re-commissions him to mentor the next generation. God re-assures him with a network of equally devoted colleagues.
Elijah grows up in his relation to others and he becomes a ruler of his own soul. He was wounded and then recovered through the word of God. He became re-born, resurrected in his spirit. Now as a mature man he is ready to be a mentor and sage to a younger man.
The Ish man pulls out of his woundedness and takes the road less traveled. Robert Frost said it well as the man ponders both paths. This is an important crossroad for us men. We can take one road or the other and hopefully will take the one less traveled. Think about the kind of life you want in the years ahead. Make your decision and move on ahead as Frost gives us his vision:
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that, the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I-
Took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
Come back for the next post about the last stop on the male journey. Think about your roles at home, at work, at church and in the community. Is there an area you could be a mentor and take greater responsibility for the next generation? Next post is about the Sage- The Fulfilled Man, Zaken. Click Here to jump to the next post… The Sage.
Thanks and credit to Robert Hicks, The Masculine Journey.
God bless you all,