I was asked recently a series of questions in reference to Christian behavior and how men should carry themselves as such. During the course of eliciting a favorable and balanced answer it dawned on me that the validity of the questions caused for a more in-depth response. As I looked around taking inventory of behavior patterns in men, I found that few gave a true indication of not only being gentlemen, but Christian value either was lacking or non-existent. To be sure, Christians are expected to behave in certain ways, but does behaving in those certain ways make one a Christian? More important, if a person fails to live up to those certain behaviors, what formulaic mannerisms should they be abiding? Or, is the assessment "lesser" have any bearing on how one should live on a whole? I firmly believe that men can attain a level of respect, thus regaining any lost luster by living a quality life. True Christians are gentlemen and respected in all quarters of the Kingdom. The gist of this essay is an opinionated view of what I think men should embody to allow double standards not to be parallel for equal parts to be the betterment of the whole in the true sense of being a better Christian.
I never met the grandfathers from both the maternal and paternal sides of my family. Back in the day when there were villages raising children it was easy for me to align myself with elders within the community sitting at their knees listening while they gave aspects of their lives. Several of those ‘lessons’ stuck with me, but there was one that truly made a difference in my life, and that was understanding the vestiges and virtues of what respect means, how to dispense it and how to demand it. Over the years, and especially since I turned my life aroung I learned how respect manifests itself throughout the daily habits of living, and how dependent men should be in developing character and mannerisms to be accountable. Two men that have taught me well in my lifetime were more than willing -- Rema Cobb and Dr. Benjamin Mays. Rema Cobb was like family to me. As a matter of fact he was the best friend of my father and I lovingly called him ‘Uncle’. Uncle Rema was a commoner -- a man without the rudiments of a formal education, but full of wisdom from a life of experienced living. He called a spade a spade and called it like it was. Growing up in Miami’s central negro district -- ‘Overtown’, I can honestly and proudly say that there wasn’t a need to go outside the confines of Jim Crow’s segregated boundaries. We had everything we needed smack dab in the middle of our enclave of influence. Mr. Cobb was a Godsend and a saving grace...he understood the importance of education and growing exponentially for greater resolve. He wasn’t degreed, didn’t even finish high school, but along the way was able to forge stability for a sturdy foundation. He, along with my father gave me all I needed to know about the hard knocks of life emanating from hell’s kitchen. He was a Longshore, or as some people would refer -- a Stevedore working the docks at the Port of Miami. He once told me that “the best thing that any man can learn is how to be respected and gain from how you are viewed by your peers!”
Benjamin Mays was flat out awesome! I met him long after he had left Morehouse College and was then the head of Atlanta’s Public School System. I remember catching the bus from the Five Points area of the city to listen to some of his lectures on the Civil Rights era. I met him personally while stationed at Ft. McPherson while studying at Graves Hall on the campus of Morehouse. Mays emphasized two themes throughout his life: the dignity of all human beings and the gap between American democratic ideals and American social practices. And this is what galvanized me to not give up because there was too much slack in my rope. I needed to tighten the reins of my influence, and Dr. Mays provided that for me! He emphasized the importance of respecting your fellow man and holding your women up to the highest esteem and allowing integrity to be the barometer to measure worth. From both of these erudite men I’ve come to the conclusion that there’s a method to the madness of how not only to display respectful attitudes, but to achieve it from all walks of wisdom and be distinguished to boot! Being a true Christian and a man shaped by morals is all about mannerisms distinguishable in a gentlemanly way. You become a true Christian and a Distinguished Gentleman by doing things to make a sure calling and an election that you can win! I surmise in the passages below how to become the best role model that youngsters can look up to and men can exemplify:
First and foremost, one should have a sense of spirituality manifested by Christian value. God HAS to be present in your life to elicit challenging changes for a better life. You must be humble enough to realize that you’re a sinner and that certain standards must me adhered to. Jesus waits at the door of your heart. He is a gentleman and will not barge his way in. He knocks. If you want to enjoy His company just let him into your being. you need to be born again. This is something that needs to be experienced in order to be fully understood. We all want respect regardless of our circumstance. This is so, because every human value is different from the other, which then requires the understanding between persons on things to help their communication better, especially while walking as a Christian. You may ask yourself “how would Jesus exemplify the art of respect and expecting the same from those looking at him? I’m sure he would agree with my personal beattitudes, as He would: 1) expect you to be respectful of others truly from your heart for them to respect you; 2) Learn to be positive at all times even in tough situations that break others down. Learn to bring the good out of situations and build on them; 3) Learn to be loyal to friends, family and others. Have a standard mindset that speaks the same truth from the heart to all and not just to those you want their appreciation; 4) Be concilliatory and not make negative judgments about others; 5) Be decent in use of your words and actions. Try to avoid debasing or vulgar statements. Also, dress well and have a pleasant demeanor. 6) Be generous from the heart and be real to yourself. Be the good example for others to follow. Be the bridge builder amongst people, not always for self-centered reasons. Be thoughtful and pursue peace, progress and greatness by building and exercising your inner self to real life expansive vision; 7) Learn to know when to talk and listen attentively to others and let them know you have learnt something from them without necessarily saying what. Be positively responsive and confident with a mild sense of elegance; and...8) do not give promise when you know you would not honor it. Be truthful as you trust and act on your words. Whenever you make mistake, accept full responsibility, not to pass the blame, and then politely move onward.
All of the above are entities that build character and will propel you to become that distinguished gentleman and a model Christian. This then, will be the foundation to your growth, using the five stages of Christian Growth: Salvation, Spiritual Growth, Stewardship, Spiritual Gifts and Sending Forth. You must be strong though, and purposeful in your walk. We all know that satan is a liar and will do anything to thwart your alignment with Christ. Temptation is one of his biggest ploys to derail your best intentions. Learning to resist him is essential. The devil wants to get a hold on us so he can attack to discourage and sway us away from God and His ways. Our defense is simple; we are to stand firm in Christ, pray, and allow His work in us and not ours; what we would bring to the table is just fuel for the devil and his ways! More often than not we falter and sucummb to the ills of society that cause us to not be reverent in the promises made to God. It’s called ‘backsliding’. As I’ve lived and learned through a process of perseverance, symptoms of everyday life where society has ills that are not conducive to Godly behavior have rendered me no choice but to live righteously. I admonish you to think along the same lines. The symptoms are everywhere. We must apply ourselves accordingly and be accountable for what we do and how we present ourselves. True Christians have a blueprint for life following Jesus’ examples. Likewise, you become distinguished as a gentleman by living a Christian life replacing the self-esteem that may have been lost in your iniquity, embrace your family, and attain goals and within your sights a communal attitude for a better foundation. Seize the moment and be the man God envisioned to be!