Healthy Soul/Lessons Learned/My Life

Terry Crews Taught Me How to “Man Up” in the Right Way

Whenever I hear the word “man”, before I think about actual men, I think of a lot of other things. Testosterone, fantasy football, that one song from Mulan. Yet, when it comes to one specific person who exemplifies the word “man”, the answer is obvious.

Terry Crews.

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Where do I begin with this guy? From demolishing offensive lines in the NFL, to flexing his humongous biceps on TV, everybody who has seen him knows that he is in peak physical form. Speaking of TV, Crews is also a fantastic comedic actor. From Brooklyn Nine-Nine, to the modern masterpieces that are his Old Spice commercials, he’s flexed his comedic muscles, as well as his actual muscles. Oh, and he’s an art major from Western Michigan University. Strong, smart, funny. A man’s man.

So that’s why I was so surprised when I found out that Terry Crews has struggled with a pornography addiction. As he spoke about what pornography did to his marriage, and how it changed his perspective of people, I couldn’t help but think even more highly of this man. He risked his whole career and showed his weakness, expecting nothing in return.

Acknowledging the Kryptonite

His level of vulnerability is even more impressive when you think about the fact that people see him as this “strong man”; how can such a powerful man, who has a personality to go along with it, share his personal struggle with the world? The short (and completely fulfilling answer) is that he felt the need to admit that he can’t do it all on his own. Crews was doing more than being vulnerable to the whole world; he was declaring his weakness to it.

It’s safe to say that nobody really wants to talk about what they struggle with. Especially with guys, there exists an idea that we have to look like Superman to the people around us; just strolling through life without any mishaps or soft spots.

While it’s fun to think that we don’t have frailties, let’s be real here; everyone has weakness. If Superman has his kryptonite, I guarantee that everybody has their own version (Terry Crews’ is pornography, for example). If we state these weaknesses however, than we prohibit our pride from denying the truth getting in the way of our lives. Once we state what we know, our ego can’t take over and we can more rightly serve the Lord. Sounds easy, right?

Professing these flaws however, is difficult in today’s culture. I like to call it “beast-mode culture.” Society has placed a figure upon its pedestal that has no delicacies, no fractures, and most importantly: a drive to succeed. I’m not saying it’s bad to want to achieve something great; a determination to do quality work is fantastic. Where it crosses the line is when they aren’t okay with the flaws that you do have. They want a Superman without weakness, and it’s wickedly easy to not show weakness when we just choose to not talk about it. The ignorance of flaws has led us to a false sense of power that we must abandon.

As a guy, I can say from personal experience that the peer pressures and cultural messages that are a part of this “beast-mode culture” are things that turn us into literal monsters; Monsters that don’t care about what happens to the people around them. Every channel that teenagers receive influence from (music, movies, social media, the list goes on) tells us that nothing should stand between us guys and whatever we want to achieve — whether it be power, glory, or sex. Who cares what you lie about, who you hurt, or how you get whatever you want; a man has to be a man right?

Man Up

This is why I can’t stand the term “man up.” Not because the phrase itself is offensive, but the term is usually used in a context that doesn’t really define what being a man is (more on that later). Whenever I’ve heard the phrase “man up,” it’s never followed by “Let’s pray a rosary real quick.” I’ve also never heard “Man up bro, let’s talk about the culture of sin in today’s society.”

Whenever I hear that phrase, it’s usually followed by “Go to the party tonight!” or “Just let me see the answers before you turn in the test,” or “Prom is meant for losing your virginity; everybody does it.” The “beast-mode culture” has been obviously carved into the term “man up.”

What would happen if we disconnected the two though? What would the term “man up” mean without the over-influence of our culture? Well, let’s look to our man’s man again to show us the answers. Crews has an equal amount of wise words and funny jokes, but I want to focus on one video in particular. In one his videos he put on Facebook, he states,

“I had the biggest sense of entitlement ever. I felt the world owed me something. I felt like my wife owed me sex… I felt that everyone owed me. When you have a sense of entitlement it’s extremely dangerous…”

Crews has worked his way to his level of glory in every aspect of entertainment. Athletic experience, comedic talent, and academic skills are some of the things that Crews has earned in his life by working so hard. If anybody deserved anything good, he’s a prime candidate for it, yet he recognizes that this feeling that the world had a debt to him is dangerous for him. As a guy, we must abandon any feeling of entitlement that we feel. We have to live our lives like everything in it as a gift from God, because it truly is one. Another thing he states in his video is,

“I believe it [pride] tends to be a very male oriented thing because I believed that I was more valuable than my wife…. when you believe that you are more valuable than another person, you feel like they owe you something…. you have to examine what you believe about you and your relationships”

Pride is the source of all sin, and everybody suffers from it. As a guy, this pride is further infused into the “beast-mode culture” and it makes you feel like you’re above everybody else. While we’re all God’s creations and should be proud of that, we should be reminded that we’re all the same. Being a man means that we put down whatever we feel in order to more adequately serve others, but more importantly, more adequately serve God.

While Crews may have been specifically addressing pornography addiction, what he says can be applied to the whole definition of manhood. If we’re going to extinguish the “beast-mode culture” then we must individually “man up” the Terry Crews way; by acknowledging your blessings, as well as your mistakes. When we take a step back and admit our flaws, we automatically recognize the dangers that they bring, and allow God to help us with those flaws.

Would it be nice to have people think of me as a perfect guy who has no problem with sin? Sure, but it wouldn’t be the truth. We have to be real with ourselves before God can help us to be real with others.

Photo by Gage Skidmore, logo added, CC By-SA 2.0

About the Author

Dillon Duke

Of all the blessings that God has given me, the ones that particularly stand out are family, french fries and football. I'm currently a Communications student at the University of Houston but I'm hoping to get into Hogwarts for graduate school. You can find my music recommendations and dad-jokes at twitter @dillduke