(Note: This is Part 5 of our series on biblical masculinity, adapted from Men’s Leadership Training)
Men are cultivators. They are wired by God to be creative with the resources around them. To cultivate is to produce something beautiful and useful out of the raw materials available to you. So men make machines that are useful and functional, but with those machines they build beautiful buildings (which are also functional). Men make stuff, and they make it good and for the good of others. That’s what it means to be a cultivator.
However, men also misuse their creative capacities by either abusing or abandoning them. And where this imbalance occurs, we find negative stereotypes.
For instance, a man who values beauty too much may be obsessed over his appearance. Not that he seeks to be “beautiful” in the girly sense, but he seeks to be excellent and flawless. So maybe this guy is the gym rat or metrosexual, always working on his outer appearance but neglecting to develop his inner man or relationships with others. Or this could be the guy who spends long hours perfecting his lawn while his kids sit just inside playing video games because Dad doesn’t have time for them.
Consider also valuing excellence too little—a guy might be sloppy in his appearance, or overweight; a man may neglect his yard and be “that” neighbor; your coworker may work only as much as necessary to earn a paycheck and fails to do his best. And think about the ugly buildings in your city, the ones that make you think, “Whoever signed off on that?”—these buildings might be functional, but they lack beauty.
Conversely, when you over or undervalue excellence, you will probably tend to think too much or too little of usefulness. Think of the guy who is always messing with his phone, trying to stay “connected” with everyone except the person in front of him. And the guy who rarely drives his expensive car so he can keep it like new for as long as possible. Or think fo the college student who doesn’t care what his furniture looks like just so long as he has a place to sit and watch TV and a bed to sleep in.
The goal is to have a healthy balance of both beauty and usefulness, so that you aspire to create good and excellent things that are useful and good for others. Valuing one over the other creates an imbalance that keeps homes and businesses and entire cultures from flourishing.