Continual Progress Shows Maturity

Earlier this month, I suggested we must learn how to celebrate diversity every day, not just during Black History Month. Likewise, the above quote from the Greek philosopher, Epictetus encourages us to become devoted every day to making continual progress. For example, progress in learning how to engage in conversations and disagreements with grace and understanding, especially about sensitive topics such as racism, gender issues, politics, and yes, even our sports teams!

Epictetus (c. 50 – 135 AD) taught Stoicism, a philosophy about developing self-control as a means of overcoming destructive emotions. Born into slavery in what is present-day western Turkey, he taught that external events are beyond our control and that we should accept whatever happens calmly and dispassionately. This philosophy doesn’t mean capitulating or surrendering your values and beliefs. It doesn’t mean becoming passive because we have no control over our lives. Conversely, it means we have a moral responsibility to control our actions and reactions to those events. I suggest you do this with a rigorous practice of self-discipline and continual progress.

In today’s language, this practice means we have a responsibility to always make progress in almost every aspect of life. It begins by learning to manage oneself well (one of the early steps described in my series, The Complete Roadmap to Better Manhood). You then begin to make progress with your personal development. You set goals and show progress toward meeting those goals. It also means taking responsibility for your growth from an ordinary man into a better man.

The men’s group at my church is currently studying Twelve Ordinary Men by John MacArthur. It’s a book about the very common men who became the disciples of Jesus. The author said the text aggramatoi…idiota is what the Greeks used to refer to these men. According to MacArthur, the Greek literally means “illiterate ignoramuses” (pg 27). Flawed and far from perfect, these twelve men learned directly from Jesus during their 18 months with Him. They made continual progress in how to be more like Him to become “extraordinary” Apostles who would change the world.

The goal for everyone should be continual progress throughout their entire life. This comes from being a continual learner who is devoted to becoming a disciple (defined as “a follower or student of a teacher, leader, or philosopher”) of great people. For godly men, this means progress toward becoming more like Jesus, the Only Perfect Man. You are shaping your life into one that helps every man, woman, and child feel loved equally in God’s beautifully created and diverse world.

Wisdom for Men is my opinion on topics that help men become better. The sources used are not fact-checked but support my theory that men are better with deeper, more authentic friendships. This GodBuddy theory is based on biblical principles but applies to all men, regardless of their beliefs. Better friendships can help solve the crisis of male friendship…and the world needs better men. It needs more men who desire to be more like Jesus, our ultimate role model.

[Feature Image from The 5 Minute Stoic, a collection of quotes, videos, and teachings that help you live a Stoic Life]


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