Men of OldBy Men's Pastor - Alan Jones

“Men of Old.” They intrigue me. The phrase assumes a greatness or presence about them that accomplished great things. The wording inspires me to look to their courage and fearless attitude to attempt anything.

When I was ten years old, my family moved to Albuquerque, New Mexico. The block I lived on was full of boys my age that all had the same interest . . . . . WAR! Our goal each and every day after school was to go to battle. We didn’t play astronauts, moon-landings or anything futuristic. We weren’t looking to the future. We wanted to be “men of old.” We put on our home-made army gear, strapped on our wooden machine guns, grabbed a couple of aluminum foil grenades . . . and defended the free world.

There’s something inside a ten year old boy that wants to be like that. Unafraid to step into the possibility of hero and defender. Somehow as we become “men of today” we get so risk-adverse, not willing to make mistakes, that we hold ourselves back from attempting real feats of sacrifice or heroic accomplishment. We fear that we will fall short in our heroic adventure and be looked upon as “failures,” or worse yet, “dreamers.” It is so easy to stand for nothing and become a man of very little impact. The men of old that I’m talking about did not take the easy way out. Men from history, whether they be knights of medieval England, soldiers of the Civil War or Marines storming the beaches of Normandy, met their challenges head-on and most likely, with fear and trembling. Lovers and warriors. Nobel and sinful. Dark and light. Many of them did not fit the pre-conceived ideas of “heroes” but were simply doing what men do in their “time-slot” of history. They were made of stuff that we don’t see modern-day men display much anymore.

Let’s look at some of these men of old and what we can learn and apply to our lives today:

    The group of men who fought during World War II have become known as the “Greatest Generation.” Young men barely old enough to drive, saved a nation and most likely the world from tyranny. Why? They were abandoned to a cause. When the young shepherd David showed up unexpectedly on the battlefield, he saw and heard Goliath taunting the armies of Israel. David’s response . . . “Is there not a cause?” How could men like David and the Greatest Generation step up and give that type of response? Was it in their upbringing? Did they have something different than we have today? Possibly. One thing I know is that they were born male but they were forged a man by the fire of survival. Once young men, they are now considered men of old. 

    The preparation of Medieval knighthood, from the beginnings of a Page, progressing to stage of a Squire, and finally becoming a Knight resonates with men of today. There are entire movements of men trying to get back to something more noble and chivalrous. The preparation to become a knight challenged men to pursue something very few men of their day could even see themselves becoming. This is a powerful thing. The pursuit of something seemingly out of reach. To complete the process and be called before the King, kneeling a man and rising a Knight, speaks to men centuries later.

    The fire of the Civil War revealed courageous men of leadership. Abraham Lincoln and Robert E. Lee were leaders who were courageous enough to “love” their men and “weep” for their losses. Loving and weeping. Not your typical “courageous” acts. It’s easy to believe that courage is the absence of fear. But it’s more than that. It’s the display of humanity like Lincoln and Lee. Men of old were not afraid to fight, love, weep and die. The did what they needed to do, what their convictions drove them to do. The list could go on and on. Men of old. Not all of them noble. Some of them evil and even ungodly. Men who lived like men, who fought like warriors, loved like brothers, and many who died as heroes. They did not base their lives on the prospect of growing old and dying. They lived their lives to the fullest becoming renowned for the impact they made. Many of these heroes died young, but as for us, let us have the heart of those men. Let someone, someday write of you and I, “they were the men of old.”

When you think of “men of old,” what attributes resonates with you that you would like to emulate in your life?