INVEST IN YOURSELF
I would like to take the time to welcome each reader to “THE MANHOOD LINE,” a column written to put forth solutions for men, regardless of their color, achievements, age or issues. Let me say from the outset that this column is unique. It is not a column to show women where their problems may be. However, this column it is an answer for many, many, many men whom you and I know are tired of being labeled as monsters, misfits, or idiots.
Brothers, we are here to answer your questions, share in your joys, and set down REAL solutions for what ails you. This is YOUR column, written from a biblical, business and common-sense perspective! I’ll tell you up front: some of it will give you a real workout. I encourage you—keep on reading and feel free to share this column with other brothers!
Please remember the following statement: Manhood—like anything else—requires training, preferably from other upright men. To be a man is not a matter of age, but maturity. Learning from mistakes. Not compromising when others around you are ‘quick’ to roll over. Taking risks while others are content to stay where it is safe. Being responsible when it is easier to cut and run. Helping others instead of helping yourself. Not selling out your brothers—or your people—to gain favor, power, money OR all three. Taking a stand as a man, and NOT letting your foot move!
The single factor in my putting keys to electronic paper? I am tired of seeing regular, hard-working, God-fearing, family-oriented men—of all colors—run over repeatedly by a bunch of hard-headed folks of both genders who happen to be inflated in their own minds by their positions in the mainstream mess, Hollywood, politics, sports or business.
Men have been taking it on the chin, the shins, and over their heads from big mouths who have been taking men to task, but who in and of themselves have had little success in their OWN lives. Brothers, we have been forcibly rejected from our rightful leadership roles and been drifting into roles NOT meant for us. If you do not know who you are, how can you expect anyone else to respect you, or take you seriously? First tip; this African Proverb: “It’s not what you call me…but what I answer to!” I’m all about helping you to discover who you are and get you ready for where God wants you to be!
Who am I to take on this task? I will be writing from this perspective: I am a Christian, an African American man, a Minister and a whole lot more. I have survived in a society which would have written me off long ago if I did not have faith in God. While I am far from perfect and have skinned my knees more than a few times neither am I “politically correct”.
I believe in solutions for problems…NOT merely continuing to be content with talking, talking and more talking about issues that COULD be solved IF individuals would take individual responsibility for their antics and actions.
A few years back I had a rather curious conversation with a 20-something woman about what qualities she thought composed an ‘ideal’ man. She listed money and the materialism list just kept on growing. After she put forth her wish list I asked her what she was willing to offer in a ‘relationship’. She went silent. Then, we ended the conversation.
Brothers, there are more women out there in society just like this one. Worse yet, because of the feminization of America, some women have money, power and position—but no class! They don’t know how to be ‘upright’ women, so they eagerly hunt for ‘weak’ men…and get upset when they get what they want! The KJV Bible warnings in The Book of Proverbs are clear: Avoid such women like the Wuhan Virus. Sure, she may take your breath away, brother but she may eventually have you carried way as a statistic.
Remember what happened to Samson, Amen?
Let me drop this wisdom nugget: Beware the selfish woman who will insist upon you respecting her but will not reciprocate that same respect towards you. Next, beware the insecure woman who is jealous of you having or keeping good, solid male friendships. Men DO need to hang out at times with their tribe apart from women. Lastly, beware of the woman who takes…and will not support your ‘growing’ as a man.
For far too long, society has said that there is something wrong with men—especially men of color. “Fix them!” Has been the SJW ‘rallying cry’. The ‘pointy head’ coalition of social engineers have piled on. Commissions have been formed to ‘address’ the problems of young Black men. I could go on and on. However, whenever we bring up the matter of having men involved in building a spiritual foundation and working on character, education, job skills, and staying crime free, this same ‘podcast warrior’ bunch go silent. They have never read the works of Booker T. Washington, Tony Brown, E.V. Hill, Thomas Sowell or Clarence Thomas.
There are rich and powerful men who have—with a smile on their lips—sought to destroy the talented man, and the hard-working man. Then we have the satanic soldiers of Homosexuality and Transgenderism trying to ‘punk out’ the spiritual man and moral man. Lastly, we have single and married women who have worked hard to seduce the loyal family man.
Let us understand one thing…WE are in a WAR! By hook and by crook efforts are firmly underway to destroy men and boys in this country. In the words of Dr. Earl Ofari Hutchinson, author of “The Assassination of the Black Male Image” (Middle Passage Press): “We should have LISTENED and believed our parents and grandparents. They were neither revolutionary, nor the vanguard. They always talked about religion, country, moral values, and basic rights. Period.”
Brothers, in warfare, there are no ties. You either enter the arena to come out victorious or remain a casualty. Over the years, I have seen more casualties than victorious young men because they have been encouraged by our ‘social media generation’ that one may have experience without needing wisdom; that being ‘liked’ on a platform is important and someone else will clean up their ‘mess’. Further, there is a belief among many young men that it is alright to ‘exist’ instead of learning the skills and education fundamentals for growth.
One other thing that I’ve seen among young men: an attitude of anger towards their friends and older Black brothers who have made the effort to ‘make it’ in life. Instead of humbling themselves (Micah 6:8 KJV) and getting involved in their OWN upkeep and advancement, these young men sit with their arms folded and lips stuck out. They have not only forgotten how to listen to the men of the village, they are more fearful of being ‘cancelled’ by the SJWs IF they DO listen!
Another old African proverb rings true: “Give advice: If people don’t listen, let adversity teach them.” The Apostle Paul brought it home more clearly: “For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat” (II Thessalonians 3:10 KJV).
Brothers, I have some harsh news for you. No one cares if you pout and quit on life. This is the quickest way to become a statistic. Furthermore, if you are bound and determine to wear your hair long and braided; if you are content with an earring or two plus some polish on your nails do NOT be shocked when other men (and many women) will not want to hire you!
If our men in the house are looking for a challenge, I have a simple one: “Invest In Yourself!” The title of this column; our sailing out on the seas of manhood, comes from the late Pastor Gene C. Baker, Indianapolis, Indiana. He was a man’s man. A hard-working Pastor and one of my mentors when I started out in the ministry.
One of my first pieces of advice for a young brother: Find an older, upright man who is doing what you want to do and learn from him. Color is optional. Take the good points, shed the bad points, shut up, and learn, learn, learn! When you are assaulting the rocky cliffs of manhood, talking should be kept to a minimum. No one cares how many times you ‘beat’ a video game! Your ‘rookie years’ are the ones that will help ‘grow you’ to not only becoming a successful man; they will form the bedrock of your survival skills when—and if—bad times cross your path.
Pastor Baker had a great piece of advice for young preachers who were first starting out: “If you can’t preach to two…you won’t be able to preach to two thousand.” In other words, you need to prepare your ministry just as hard for a small group as you would for a large crowd. One of Baker’s nicknames among minsters was: “The Cornfield Philosopher”. Wisdom just seemed to overflow from him. He was all about preparation and ‘getting ready’ for those times in the future when it was time for one to ‘come forth’ with what God had given them.
Invest In Yourself…and you will be able to Invest In Others, down the line.
A man must make the effort to prepare himself; INVEST the time, talent and sweat needed to build yourself that career or relationship you are seeking and to build yourself to face that time in the future which you are challenging. An unprepared man is sure to become a casualty in the arena of life. God favors the man who not only walks with Him but takes the time to grow under the training of the men whom He has sent their way.
The only one who cares if you pout and quit is the undertaker. He will be more than happy to mark your ‘stopping spot’ with a tombstone, properly lettered for the occasion.
How can a man hope to open a business if he has not invested in learning how to get one going? How can a man earn a promotion on his job if he has not taken the steps needed to meet the qualifications? How can a man preach the gospel effectively if he refuses to spend time in prayer and Bible study? When life reverses on you, and you find yourself out on the losing end, it is the invested man; the prepared man who will be able to look up, pick himself up, shake off the loss and disappointment and move forward to rebuild success for himself and those around him. Life–just like the Devil–don’t play fair. Be ready—nay, PLAN for life unpacking itself at the least convenient opportunity.
You have a computer in your hands, brothers. How are you using it? Spending time watching garbage that stunts your maturity, or finding on-line articles, podcasts and courses that will grow you into a solid man ready to advance to the next level of life? There are bookstores on line, or in your area. Are you checking out and buying books to ‘build’ your own knowledge files at home? One who takes the time to invest in themselves does not waste time…they learn how to master it! They take the time to develop skills. They aren’t ‘trapped’ by what others ‘think’ they should learn; they are quite willing to ‘launch out into the deep’ and get that wisdom from a day gone by. Cancel me today? The Lord will resurrect me tomorrow!
Take Black History Month or Black Music Month. Are you content to ‘accept’ who are historical figures OR do you have the courage to do your OWN research and look up books and articles on Elijah McCoy, Dr. Charles Drew and hundreds of other, little known—but CHRISTIAN Black men and women?
Remember brothers: there are those in society who are deliberately putting stuff out on social media to ‘capture’ or ‘divert’ your attention away from your ability to succeed. A man who is ill-equipped to participate in the arena of life not only is NOT a threat to the status quo, he is out of the way of those who will be quick to be take their place in the success line. All it takes for you to live up to your full potential in life is for you to decide to invest in yourself. Others, down the road, will thank and praise your decision!
Mike Ramey is a Minister, Syndicated Columnist and Modern Street Gangs Specialist and Consultant from Indianapolis, Indiana. Ramey is the author of THE MANHOOD LINE: THE GOLD FILES. Bringing back some of the classic THE MANHOOD LINE columns for a new generation of men. THE MANHOOD LINE was and is a syndicated, monthly column, written from a biblical, business, and common-sense perspective FOR MEN. Email welcome to firstname.lastname@example.org. ©1996, 2021 Mike Ramey/Barnstorm Communications International (3).