As I travel around the country speaking the number one question I am asked is, “How can we engage and motivate men to be involved?” Clearly, this is an issue that affects everyone. The Big Brothers/Big Sisters program here in Portland reports that they have a waiting list of 900 boys with an average wait time of three years because they cannot find male mentors to be involved. So how do we engage men? Is it even possible?
I believe it is, but we have to first understand some things that are important to motivating men. Here are some key factors to encouraging and inspiring men to make a difference in the world:
• Men need to know their importance and significance
Men literally have the god-given power to influence lives for generations. People’s lives for hundreds of years will be impacted by what a man does or doesn’t do today. Most men do not know or recognize the influence they carry by virtue of their gender.
• Men need a mission – a battle to fight!
All men yearn for adventure and even a hint of danger in their lives. They are inspired by great causes to do battle over. The battle for good to triumph over evil has inspired men since time began. Today’s evils include poverty, abuse, addictions, and sexual slavery to name just a few.
• Men need permission—to be empowered
Many of the messages men hear today denigrate masculinity. Most television shows, commercials, and movies stereotypically portray men as either abusive jerks, or most often, as bumbling idiots. Men need to be inspired and even given permission to be involved in battles that matter.
• Men need a vision
Men need to know that there are women and children dying because of lack of male leadership in their lives. They are begging God for someone to come into their lives to help them. People we don’t even know are watching us to see how a man lives his life, how he solves problems, how he leads his family. It doesn’t matter how young you are, how old, how many mistakes you’ve made, you were created by God to be a leader—for people to look up to.
• Men need an action plan with definable goals
Men need to have vehicles that they can plug into in order to make a difference in the world. The problems of this world seem overwhelming and the thought of one person trying to make a difference can be daunting. But give a man a plan and some goals and he can achieve much.
• Men need other men beside them
Men need other men to inspire them, motivate them, and hold them accountable. There are some issues that only a group of good men can defeat. Just like there are some things you don’t do alone in life such as swim in the ocean or climb a mountain, men should not go through life alone either. Men need other men.
Finally, the last thing you need to know about engaging men is that you must have food. Don’t even try to get men to come to an event or be part of a program without providing some sort of nourishment. There is a well known adage that an army travels on its stomach. We can put up with a lot of challenges and discouragements just so long as our bellies aren’t empty! Good luck.