James Anthony Ellis Editor, Legacy Magazine
There is one very large indicator of the maturity aspect of a man. It arrives within this specific constant: does the man live from an active mode or a passive mode? Does the man do things because he “has to” and is required or requested by another, or does he step up on his own to take action? If one word comes to mind around this concept, it is “unsolicited.”
When unsolicited, the man takes a stand or makes an action with his own volition. He does not need to be told or even reminded. Consider the amount of times as a boy you were told what to do, how many times you were told to clean your room, take a certain class, attend a certain school, go to the dentist, the doctor. You may have even shirked responsibility in order to remain young, unaccountable, safe and small.
The shift from immature to mature takes place when the volition and decision-making changes hands from an outside source to the hands of the individual himself. This can happen at different times along life’s continuum, with some males never fully making the shift fully.
Consider these scenarios, comparing the immature with the mature, or the man with what could be considered “the boy.”
- When encountering a “team” dynamic, the boy fights to get his individual needs met. The man works to determine what is best for the entire team.
- When the going gets tough, and challenges heat up, the boy falls into problem-mode and complains. The man embraces the challenge, summons support and takes action.
- When encountering a difficult task, the boy hopes someone will come in and do it for him. The man sees the task through to final completion no matter what the situation asks of him.
- When spending time on some form of team or collective, the boy waits for the leader or coach to call on him. The man is proactive and reaches out to the team leader to help his team win.
- When things are falling apart all around him, the boy points outward irresponsibly in order to divert attention away from himself. The man looks within to see his part and does what he can to alter the course of the situation.
- When faced with a consequence, the boy believes he is bad and is being punished. He hides and hopes no one points out the faltering. The man ONLY knows a return to honor and steps up immediately and responsibly to attend to the matter.
This latter one is the big one. A great litmus test for us all when considering our place among the mature or immature. As a man, are you accountable and humble when you are informed of a broken word or standard? Such a response would indeed come from such a high place. All of us may have witnessed or acted out the opposite; it’s pretty ugly to see the feathers fly in defensiveness when a man is called on the carpet and fights against it.
But the real gold in these situations?
Do we wait until a man calls us out on something we know is amiss? Or do we not wait? Do we go passive or active? Do we hide behind our dishonor, or do we step up in the effort to return to honor? Do we step forward into the light, or lurk in the shadows hoping it will blow over without us getting caught? Are we a boy or a man? The real gold is found in the man who cleans up his messes or broken word unsolicited, and approaches those he has impacted proactively with a simple: “What do you need from me to make this right?”
Imagine the power within a man to be so humble, assured, confident and inclusive of another. Imagine the boost in the relationship and the amount of respect, from the man hearing another be so bold and active in his honor.
Imagine what it takes.
The masculine maturity.
James Anthony Ellis is an award-winning playwright, journalist and filmmaker, who is the author of eight books, including the men-focused “The Honor Book” available HERE.