By Cole Douglas Claybourn, Crosswalk.com
We all know the story of David vs. Goliath — the smaller fighter defeats the strong giant by relying on the power of God.
One of my favorite parts about that story isn’t so much the fact that David won the battle, but rather his decision-making that allowed him to do so.
As David prepared for the battle, Saul tells David in 1 Samuel 17:33 that he has no business fighting Goliath, that he can’t possibly win.
“Saul said to David, ‘you are not able to go against this Philistine to fight with him; for you are just a boy, and he has been a warrior from his youth.’”
In verse 37 David replies, “the Lord, who saved me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear, will save me from the hand of this Philistine.”
Saul then clothes David in the same armor that Goliath wore — a bronze helmet, a coat of chainmail, and a sword.
But give David credit. The fancy protective wear isn’t what got him where he was, and he knew it. He wasn’t about to prepare for the biggest battle of his life doing something he’s not used to, wearing something he’s not used to, or trying to be someone he wasn’t.
Instead, David stays true to himself and uses his speed, agility, and quickness to defeat Goliath with nothing more than some rocks and a slingshot. What he realized was that dressing up as a mediocre version of the giant he was about to face was never going to be as effective as using the skills God gave him.
Being ourselves is always better than being someone else.
Masking What Is Underneath
We can learn a lot from David here, especially men. We’re guilty of trying to fight battles in our lives by being someone or something we’re not. We try to fit in or look like someone else to be accepted into a certain crowd.
We either forget who we are or just decide that who we are isn’t good enough.
Competition fuels the life of a man. From the time we’re children, we understand that even if we don’t know why, we want to be the top dog. Whether it’s athletically, socially, relationally, chasing after a girl, or anything else, men want to be the alpha dog.
The fact is, though, that the rough exterior can often be masking real insecurity brewing inside. When people talk about humans struggling with comparison and identity issues, it’s usually about the struggles that women face. But men struggle just as well.
The Male Struggle with Insecurity and Comparison
“Men feel insecure about being seen as less-than,” marriage and family therapist Hanalei Vierra told Fatherly.com. “Less than strong enough, less than smart enough, less than sexy enough, less than good-looking enough, less than funny enough, less than competent enough.”
The problem is that we have a much harder time talking about it.
“Men have been trained and socialized to avoid and ignore knowing their insecurities, which is one of the reasons they are less verbal than women about their insecurities,” Vierra said. “This results in less being known and understood about them.”
Therapist William Schroeder took it a step farther in the same article.
“Men are often told to tough out their emotions and are shamed for showing them,” Schroeder said.
He added that because boys are taught this from such a young age, many of the insecurities men struggle with their entire lives start there.
“The result of being this way causes men to wall off anything that feels vulnerable and thus, insecure,” he said.
God made us all to be expressive beings who feel deeply. It is natural to feel, and it is natural to communicate those feelings. When we suppress those emotions that deeply affect us, we are actually being selfish, because ultimately all it does is serve our desire to protect ourselves.
Biblical manhood always exists in love, and love requires laying down our needs for the needs of others. To be vulnerable with our emotions, especially to those who love us, is to be in touch with our Biblical manhood. To do otherwise is to act out of selfishness and pride.
In other words, it is actually a manly act to recognize, share, and address your insecurities. Ignoring them, bottling them up, and letting them result in potential negative behavior is out of step with the self-control we are called to possess as Christians.
Letting Go of Insecurities and Embracing Who God Made You to Be
Toxic masculinity is a problem on its own as it relates to gender relations, but it’s a problem as well when it causes men to be discontent in who they are or to put others down in order to feel more superior.
When we let our own pride guide our decision-making and prevent us from addressing the real insecurities we are facing, we risk going deeper down the dark path of relational destruction.
The key to avoiding all of this, of course, is to never lose sight of who God says we are and continually be in His word every day to rest in true contentment in Jesus. If we pay more attention to who the world tells us to be than who God has already said we are, we will never be truly content.
Gregg Farrell, pastor of Crossland Community Church in Bowling Green, Kentucky put it this way during a recent sermon:
“If you begin to lose your identity in Christ, I guarantee you this: this world will gladly describe you, define you, and identify you. It would be glad to give you a new name tag. What do you want it to say? Mine says ‘Child of God,’ but if I get confused and pull that name tag off, what do you want — ‘drug addict?’ ‘Adulter?’ ‘Failure?’ ‘Emotional basket case?’ ‘Spiritually immature?’
“What name do you like? I hope your name is ‘Child of the Living God.’”
It’s not always easy to remember that or even believe that, especially when we see our peers having the success that we envy or living lives we wish we could live. We get jealous, and rather than rest in contentment, we compare ourselves to them.
We then go out and buy clothes to fit in or create a social media presence that makes us appear like someone we’re not. We talk a certain way or latch onto a social group that we think makes us appear the way we want to be seen.
Instead, let’s be more like David. Let’s shed the phony armor that is only going to drag us down and embrace the unique abilities and characteristics God has given to us.
Work to identify the times in your life when you’ve tried to put on the armor; when you’ve tried to dress up like the giant you’re about to face and tried to morph into something or someone else instead of just being true to who you are.
When you do that, remember who you are, whose you are, and the giftings God has given you.
There’s literally no one else like you in the world. We don’t need you to be someone else, we need you to be you. And when you’re not feeling like yourself, we need you to be vulnerable and address it.
If not, not only will you rob yourself of the glory God has for you, but we are also robbed. The world doesn’t get to experience the greatness God has given specifically to you and your life.
Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/wernerimages
Cole Douglas Claybourn is a writer and podcaster living in Bowling Green, Kentucky, with his wife, Emily. Cole teaches high school English and is the host of the In No Hurry Podcast. His work has been featured in RELEVANT Magazine, Sports Spectrum Magazine, Outreach Magazine, Think Eternity, and USA Today. He enjoys telling stories of where faith and creativity intersect and sharing his story to help Christians navigate through their own journey. You can also find his work at coleclaybourn.com.