“We live in a world full of males who have prolonged their adolescence. They are neither boys nor men. They live, suspended as it were, between childhood and adulthood, between growing up and being grownups. Let’s call this kind of male Ban, a hybrid of both boy and man (Darrin Patrick).” “The Peter Pan Syndrome” or “failure to launch” gives expression to the same phenomenon. Former Nebraska Senator Ben Sasse noted that Titter has turned the noun “adult” into a verb. “#Adulting” is what young people post on social media to congratulate themselves for the rather ordinary feats of paying the bills, finishing the laundry, or just getting to work on time.
Adulting became so universally recognized that the American Dialect Society nominated it for the most creative word of 2015. “To a growing number of Americans,” wrote Sasse, “acting like a grown-up seems like a kind of role-playing, a mode of behavior requiring humorous detachment.” We are witnessing something like “perpetual adolescence” among young men. John Stonestreet wonders if “isolation in peer groups of the same age, widespread complacency toward history and ethics, unbridled consumerism, and even those infamous participation trophies have all contributed to this crisis.
Adulting is evident in young men frowning at doing physical work. Instead of accepting responsibility to be working, it has become an act of obligation, something – like adulting – to be avoided. This is simply being lazy. Proverbs equates lazy people with fools. Their lack of productivity leads to poverty. The Proverbs seem to poke fun at lazy people: “Just as a door turns on its hinges, so a lazybones turns back over in bed” (Prov. 26:15 – Message). “The loafer says, ‘There’s a lion on the loose! If I go out, I’ll be eaten alive” (Prov. 22:13 – Message).
As senior citizen living in the woods, I have learned to embrace physical work. I don’t have to go to a fitness center. I simply go out and cut wood. As a self-proclaimed “monk” living in my small monastery with my “nun” (my wife), I find focus for my life by identifying with the Cistercian monastic tradition. Cistercians valued the importance of work, along with prayer and study. Chapter 48 of the rule of Benedict states, “Idleness is the enemy of the soul. Therefore all the community must be occupied at definite times in manual labour and at other times in lectio divina (prayer).” The prayer of the monks is called the Opus Dei, “the Work of God.” “This prayer of praise to God throughout the day and night was considered the chief work of the monk, as well as the place where God worked on them.”
So out in the woods, I am talking with God as I sweat and labor. All the while, God is working on me. I listen, intercede, and cry out to Him. Working with my hands, exerting myself, is good for both body and soul. Why do I mention the monastic tradition? Because they give us men an example of how to include physical labor in the rhythm of our life as believers. I know many of you are deeply involved with business and family life. This blog is a reminder to include some physical labor in your routine, so it can be witnessed, especially by your sons. Don’t have the attitude of “adulting” when you do physical work. Embrace physical labor as a man. Remember: “God took the Man and set him down in the Garden of Eden to work the ground and keep it in order” (Gen 2:15 – Message).