This series is contextual in nature. I’m not writing this to highlight my five favorite books. I’m not even sure that any of these would make that list anyways. But, these are five books have affected my life significantly enough over the last several years. Situations in my life magnified their impact. They come in no particular order of importance.
One day while visiting the Art of Manliness website I ran across a book list for someone who wanted to read up on contemporary manhood. One of the books that captured my eye on that list was a book entitled No More Christian Nice Guy. Aside from it conjuring up memories of Alice Cooper, the book drew my interest more because I was transitioning into a managerial position. Little did I know, that adhering to some of the principles in this book would take me down some not so friendly roads years later.
Let me first say, I don’t agree with everything in the book, nor am I prepared to make a scholarly argument on the feminization of Christ by the church, which Coughlin does in his book. I did agree with him that men in the church were asked to be silent door mats far too often, which in turn led to a frustrating and unhealthy life. I felt this pressure for myself and I was eager to apply whatever advice Coughlin offered. If anything, Coughlin’s book was helping me out in my own situation, even if his work was not an accurate description of masculinity in Christendom at that time.
One piece of advice from the book that I kept returning to was to speak my mind, politely, respectfully, and firmly. For Coughlin, not speaking up for himself (or others) led to a lot of frustrating, sleepless nights. I too suffered from sleepless nights over events that I did not feel (important word is feel) the right to speak to, even though I was involved. Because of my frustration in these situations when I did speak up for myself or others I generally did so in a way that was not productive or respectful. This type of behavior would reinforce the idea that I shouldn’t have spoken up at all. I would feel pressure to return to the not so serene internally, but outwardly submissive posture. After reading Coughlin, I decided that I too wanted to sleep better at night. So I set out to start expressing myself respectfully but firmly. There is an old Latin proverb that goes along with this; qui tacet consentire videtur ubi loqui debuit ac potuit. It means, “he who is silent consents when he ought to have spoken and was able.” This became my mantra during this time in my life.
Four to five years later, I still practice speaking my mind when necessary, maybe not always when I ought to. I mentioned earlier it has led me down some interesting roads. I wish I could tell about them here, but I can’t. Some people have not enjoyed when I speak up about certain things. This is mainly because I am offering a contrary opinion and they wish I just submitted without opposition. I’ve found that speaking my mind, especially when I have had to stand up against some inappropriate decisions/events has led me to be able to state things more rationally and not be as frustrated with events…even if what I said didn’t carry the day.
This has also put me in some pretty tense altercations. Sometimes, stating your opinion firmly will frustrate some people who wish to control a situation. Taking a firm stand against certain behaviors has made me lose a few friends. But, I have gained more loyal friends in the process. Because most of the time that I’ve implemented this advice, its been for those in a position of lesser power.
I don’t always deliver my opinion in a right spirit. But, because I speak my mind, I find myself ready to apologize for that type of behavior. You see, speaking my mind, I found, didn’t just deal with things that frustrated me. It spilled over into all areas of my life–at least I hope it does.
I still get frustrated from time to time, but now at least I handle it better than bottling it up. I try to communicate my opposition well. As a result, I’ve been transformed, I think, from being a mouse to being a man. I enjoy being a man. I get far more beauty sleep!