Day 1 · Core values

“When I look at photos of men from my grandfather’s and even my dad’s generation, I can see a sense of purpose in the eyes of those men.” I can’t say I do. I would suggest that “steely focus” comes from having to stand around for half an hour while a photo was taken. If I had to wait that long, I’d have a face on me, too.

Regardless of the introduction, I think the writers are on to something. It reminded me of a quote from Mahatma Gandhi. It’s the one that starts with: “Your beliefs become your thoughts,” and works its way through thoughts, word, actions, habits, values and destiny. Gandhi is suggesting that values are ultimately shaped through what you believe and what you say and what you do. AoM, on the other hand, suggest that your values might actually be at the top of that list.

A recent guest speaker at my church said this: “How you spend your days is how you spend your life.” I agree with the sentiment that many of us fall into the trap of drifting through life. We go through the motions.

I recently sat down with my wife to chat about our values and how that should influence what we say yes to, and ultimately, what our calendar looks like. Christmas will be on us in no time, so we made a point of identifying what was important, so that our days might actually reflect that. For me, my priorities are: my wife, my son, my family, my church, my studies, and my job. Ultimately, all of those are preceded by my relationship with Jesus Christ.


Day 2 · Shine your shoes

Wow. Two days in and I’ve run aground. For most of the year I don’t have to wear shoes that require a shining. In the winter I’ve got a pair of boots I wear a lot and I suppose they could do with a polish. I need to go and buy polish, though. Where do you even buy polish? I don’t have time to get any today, but I’ll make a point of it and update you later.


Day 3 · Find a mentor

Suggesting that males these days have a tougher time figuring out what it means to be a man, AoM recommend finding a mentor with wisdom and experience to give us sound guidance, direction and advice. It encourages you to consider thinking about mentorship through the framework of your area of work, study or just general betterment.

With more and more fathers being absent from their children, there could be a case that argues that more than ever, there’s a need for guys to have mentors in their lives. As I consider how I want my life to be better, I think of my faith journey and naturally, discipleship. Every disciple should have someone discipling them, teaching and guiding.

I suppose this is what makes our churches so unique; there aren’t many other occasions that for inter-generational gathering. Yes, it’s important for us to disciple one another, but the nature of mentorship is submitting to someone’s wisdom.

It’s good to want to live a life that is attractive to others; I think that’s part of how we live our everyday, ordinary lives—our sleeping, eating, going to work, and walking around life—and place it before God as an offering.

I’ve got someone in mind, so I’ll approach them at an appropriate time soon.


Day 4 · Increase your testosterone

I consider myself an active person. Well, I certainly was. I was the guy in school who played in as many teams as I possibly could, mostly to get out of class early. Since the birth of my son a year ago, though – who am I kidding, it started about three years before that – my sporting life has nosedived. Monday night five aside is all that’s left of my sporting life now, bar my daily three-mile cycle to work and back. I’ve made a new friend in church who’s going to work out with me, because I’m aware of the importance of staying fit; I want to be able to keep up with my kids.

A few months ago BBC aired an incredible show called Countdown to life: The extraordinary making of you. Over three one-hour showings, Michael Mosley talked us through how a 21-day-old embryo grows and develops to become the person you are today. And he did so by visiting individuals, families and communities across the globe where those processes didn’t occur in the expected way; the sheer number of processes is terrifying and awe-inducing in equal measure. One such community was in the Dominican Republic where some males are born looking like girls and only grow penises at puberty. Locally, they’re known as “Guevedoces”, which effectively translates as “penis at 12” due to abnormal testosterone production. Read more here.

I bring this up to point make a point: men and their bodies vary drastically and it could be problematic to instruct someone to create more testosterone. I can’t find a good way of putting it other than feeling uneasy as I read through Day 4’s entry. Maybe I’m reading into it too much and reflecting on things that aren’t there. It’s right that we are sedentary and lack sleep, many of us aren’t as fit as we ought to be and have bulging waistlines, but I don’t aspire to being the man that I think this entry presents. Fit and strong, yes; alligator-wrestling caveman, no.


Day 5 · Cultivate gratitude

A superb way to finish my first write-up. Gratitude is in the DNA of a Christian; our response to the work of Christ on the cross is sheer thankfulness. The Bible is littered with God’s people thanking the Lord for blessings.

In our in-the-world-but-not-of-the-world-ness, I’m personally convinced that grateful people stick out. It’s easy to complain about anything. Employers, employees, work loads, church leaders, friends, spouses, kids, football teams, whatever. Forcing yourself to create a list of things you’re thankful naturally alters your posture away from self and towards others. I’ve made my list and I’m going to make a concerted effort to convey my gratitude in the coming weeks – I’ve even put a sticky note reminder on my desk to keep it in my mind.

Editor’s note: Thomas is taking the ’30 days to a better man’ challenge and documenting his progress. Read his introductory post to hear why he’s doing it. And then read his thoughts on week two.

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