The Man in the Mirror: Solving the 24 Problems Men Face (Revised)

(Paperback - Jan 2000)
$7.99 - Online Price


The Man in the Mirror has helped hundred of thousands of men understand the person who stares back at them in the mirror each morning. This powerful book invites men to take a probing look at their identities, relationships, finances, time, temperament, and integrity, and then directs them to take the first step toward lasting change. Featuring focus questions in each chapter The Man in the Mirror is perfect for personal and small group use.


  • SKU: 9780310234937
  • UPC: 025986507992
  • SKU10: 031023493X
  • Title: The Man in the Mirror: Solving the 24 Problems Men Face
  • Qty Remaining Online: 24
  • Publisher: Zondervan
  • Date Published: Jan 2000
  • Edition Description: Revised
  • Pages: 400
  • Weight lbs: 0.42
  • Dimensions: 6.84" L x 4.28" W x 1.08" H
  • Features: Price on Product
  • Themes: Theometrics | Evangelical; Sex & Gender | Masculine;
  • Category: MEN
  • Subject: Christian Life - Men's Issues
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Chapter Excerpt

Chapter One

The Rat Race

Like a rat in a maze, the path before me lies. Simon and Garfunkel

You were running a good race. Who cut in on you and kept you from obeying the truth? Galatians 5:7

The timer clicked, the TV screen fluttered, and the speaker blared the morning news.

"Morning already?" groaned Larry. He rolled over and squeezed the pillow tightly over his ears, not seriously thinking he could muffle the announcement of another day in the rat race. Then the aroma of coffee from the timer-operated percolator lured him toward the kitchen.

Six hours of sleep may not have been the house rule growing up, but success at the end of the twentieth century demanded a premium from its active participants. A rising star like Larry couldn't squander time sleeping.

Curls of steam rose from the bowl of instant oatmeal; the microwave had produced predictably perfect results in perfect cadence with his thirty-five-minute wake-up schedule.

Slouched in his chair, propped against his elbow, Larry noticed the computer screen staring back at him. Last night he balanced his checkbook after the eleven o'clock news, and, weary from the long day, he must have neglected to switch it off.

His wife, Carol, had a welcomed day off, so she slept in. Larry went through the rote motions of getting the kids off to school. After the two younger children had been dropped off at day-care, he was alone in the car with Julie. Twelve-year-old Julie seemed troubled lately. "Daddy, do you love Mom anymore?" she asked. The question came out of the blue to Larry, but Julie had been building the courage to ask it for months. Their family life was changing, and Julie seemed to be the only member of the family diagnosing the changes. Larry reassured her he loved Mom very much.

Carol didn't plan to go back to work when she first started on her MBA degree. Bored with her traditional, nonworking-housewife role, she just wanted more personal self-fulfillment. Her magazines conferred no dignity on the role of mother-tutor.

Although her family satisfied her self-esteem need for many years, other neighborhood women her same age seemed to lead glamorous lives in the business world. She couldn't help but question her traditional values.

"Maybe I'm too old-fashioned-out of step with the times," she thought to herself.

So, two nights each week for three and a half years she journeyed off to the local university, a big investment-not to mention the homework. By the time she walked across the stage to receive her diploma, Carol was convinced women had a right to professional fulfillment just as much as men.

Larry, a tenacious, carefree sales representative, advanced quickly in his company. Fifteen years of dream chasing rewarded him with a vice-president's title. The pay covered the essentials, but they both wanted more of the good life.

"I've been thinking about going back to work," Carol told him.

Larry didn't protest. She earned extra money as a bank teller at the beginning of their marriage, and the money helped furnish their honeymoon apartment. By mutual agreement, Carol stopped working when Julie was born, and ever since they had been hard-pressed to make ends meet.

Even though his own mother didn't work, Larry knew things were different now for women. Still, he had mixed emotions about sending their two small children to a day-care center. But since money was always a problem, he just shrugged and kept silent when Carol announced she had started interviewing for a job.

Larry clearly understood the trade-off. More money, less family. More family, less money. Yet, they really wanted the good life.

Their neighbors bought a twenty-four-foot cabin cruiser. Larry was surprised to learn they could own one, too, for only $328 per month. By scrimping for five months they pulled together $1,000 which, when added to their savings, gave them enough for the $2,500 down payment.

Larry loved cars. His gentle dad had always loved cars. If a shiny two-door pulled up next to him at a traffic light, Larry's heart always beat faster-he could just picture himself shifting through the gears of a fancy European import. By accident he discovered that for only $424 a month he could lease the car of his fantasies-a racy import! Leasing never occurred to him before.

Carol desperately wanted to vacation in Hawaii that year; her Tuesday tennis partner went last spring. But they couldn't do both.

"If you go along with me on this one, I'll make it up to you, Carol. I promise!" Larry told her, his infectious grin spreading across his face. She reminisced how that impish, little-boy smile had first attracted her to him. He had been good to her, she thought.

"Okay, go ahead," Carol told him.

His dad always loved Chevys. Larry's tastes had evolved with the times.

Carol dreamed of living in a two-story home with a swimming pool, but, with the car and boat payments so high, it remained a dream for years. Larry slaved twelve- and fourteen-hour days-always thinking of ways to earn more money for Carol's dream house. When Carol went to work, they added up the numbers and were elated to see they could finally make the move.

The strain of keeping their household afloat discouraged them. There were bills to pay, kids to pick up from day-care, deadlines to meet, quotas to beat, but not much time to enjoy the possessions they had accumulated.

Words from a Simon and Garfunkel song haunted Larry's thoughts: "Like a rat in a maze, the path before me lies. And the pattern never alters, until the rat dies." He was trapped.

Carol pressured out-she just couldn't take it anymore. She believed Larry had let her down. He was supposed to be strong. He was supposed to know how to keep everything going. But Larry was just as confused about their situation as she was.

As the U-haul van pulled away from the house, Larry couldn't quite believe she was actually doing it-Carol was moving out. She said she just needed some time and space to sort things out, that she was confused. The question Julie had asked a few months earlier burned in his mind, "Daddy, do you love Mom anymore?" Yes . yes, he loved her, but was it too late? How did things get so out of hand?

The Problem

Do you know anyone who has ever won the rat race? This question deserves more than a chuckle, because, upon reflection, most of us will have to acknowledge we really don't know anyone who has.

If that's the case, then why do we compete in an unwinnable race? Frankly, I would rather win, so I would rather run in a race which has a history of producing winners. Tragically, most men don't know what race that is.

The proverbial questions of the rat race-"What's it all about?" and "Is this all there is?"-have tortured us all at one time or another. No matter how successful we become, these questions always lurk in the shadows, just waiting to pounce on us when life's inevitable problems overtake us.

We strain to keep it all together, but the pressure is often like a tight band around our chest. Sometimes, the gravity of our debts and duties weighs us down so much that our interior posture is in a slump-even if we fake it and stand tall to the world.

"What is the purpose of my life?"

"Why do I exist?"

"How do I find meaning?"

"How do I satisfy my need to be significant?"

"Why are my relationships in a shambles?"

"How did I get so far in debt?"

"Who am I trying to please, anyway?"

"How did I get caught up in the rat race in the first place?"

Confusion exists about how to achieve the desired result: the good life. We all want to improve our standard of living-that's normal. But the world where we live has implemented its own ideas about how to accomplish the good life, ideas which are far different from God's order. Doesn't it seem like everyone has their own unique theory?

This dichotomy between God's order and the order of this world produces a strain on the Christian man trying to sort out his thinking. Are there absolutes? Do biblical principles really address the twentieth-century, day-to-day problems we men have? Is it possible for us to sort through our problems and build a workable model for us to live by?

Any good business plan starts with a description of the current environment. So let's begin our look at the problems of men by first getting a handle on the environment in which we live and work. The first question we need to delve into is, "How do we measure our standard of living?"

The Standard of Living Fallacy

We Americans enjoy unprecedented material success. Yet it's deceptive to measure our standard of living in only one dimension. To comprehend the standard of living we have actually achieved, we first need to unbundle the concept of standard of living and look at some of the component parts.

On a recent plane trip I sat next to a distinguished couple in their mid-sixties. Mr. Silver was the kind, gentle, grandfather type with a perpetual smile traced across the creases in his face. I learned they were just leaving Orlando where they attended their son's wedding-in a hot-air balloon. He was trying hard to take a philosophical view of such contemporary values.

As we talked he reflected how all his financial dreams had been met. Yet something bothered him. Yes, his financial standard of living was up, but an eerie feeling lingered that something wasn't quite right about his life.

I happened to have with me a graph related to our discussion, so I showed it to him. He perked up and bellowed loudly, "Yes, yes, that's me! That's exactly what has happened to my life!"

Figure 1.1, the same graph I showed Mr. Silver, shows two components of our standard of living. They are on sharply different vectors. While our material standard of living has soared over the last forty years, our moral/spiritual/relational standard of living has plummeted. They have, more or less, traded places.

Remember Leave It to Beaver, Father Knows Best, traditional families, prayer in schools, happy pregnancies? Yes, there were problems. But they were Chevrolet problems for Chevrolet families who lived in Chevrolet neighborhoods and had Chevrolet paychecks. Life was gradual, life was linear: Chevy, Buick, Oldsmobile, Cadillac, gold watch, funeral.

The desire for instant gratification, however, has taken the place of deferring to a time when we can pay cash for our wants. Today men are consumed by desires to buy things they don't need, with money they don't have, to impress people they don't like. Where do these desires come from?

The technology explosion of the last eighty years marks this century as the apex of human potential and achievement in all of history. We are blessed with technological enhancements in our creature comforts, our travel, our communications, and our jobs. Do you remember how tedious it was putting together a set of financial projections before personal computers-not to mention making a change? Can you recall what it was like to redo a marketing proposal before word processing?

But at the same time we have run up the score, we have injured most of our players. The changes come quickly, game plans have to be altered, our best players get no rest, tired players injure the easiest. Yes, we are prosperous, but at what price? We have a winning score, but most of us are tired. As individual members of the team are injured, the team as a whole begins to lose its rhythm, courage, and will.

Men today are worn out. Many who chased their dreams have lost their families. Too many children have grown up with an absentee father. Still, the invoices for the debts to accumulate the things we didn't need and don't use arrive in the mailbox like clockwork at the first of each and every month.

At a time when we are shooting off cannons to celebrate our country's great anniversaries, why has the moral fabric of our nation gone threadbare? America was founded by men who sought spiritual freedom to worship God. Where are the descendants of these men? Was their courage not hereditary? The most lasting satisfaction of life is in our relationships, so why are we trading them in for careers with companies that will drop us like hot potatoes if we miss our quota? Our standard of living must be measured in more than one dimension.

The Dominant Economic Theory in America

The material prosperity we enjoy is a modern miracle. Remember the now tiny homes of forty years ago? Television was new then (color telecasts didn't begin until 1953), no one had a computer yet, Greyhound was how America traveled, the interstate highway system didn't exist, space exploration was an abstract idea, nuclear power was a mystery, Madison Avenue was still in its infancy, and a millionaire was an anomaly.

Think of it! God has blessed this nation with the greatest thinkers, leaders, and implementers in history. He has granted prosperity that would make even Solomon burn with envy! But how did it come about? Have you ever wondered how, in the forty short years since World War II (1945) and the end of the Great Depression (1942), America has achieved such a remarkable standard of living?

The dominant economic theory in America for the past forty years or so has been consumerism. Webster's Dictionary defines consumerism as "the economic theory that a progressively greater consumption of goods is beneficial." Is this true? Is a progressively greater consumption of goods beneficial? Whether true or not-and I think not-we know from glancing at newspaper ads and TV commercials that American industry applies this theory diligently in its business plans.

In 1957 Vance Packard wrote a book, The Hidden Persuaders, which shocked and alarmed the nation. He discovered, and blew the whistle on, a large-scale effort to channel our unconscious habits and manipulate our purchasing behavior. The Madison Avenue pin-stripers formed an unholy alliance with the practitioners of psychology to manipulate the American consumer.

At the end of World War II, our industrial machine had the capacity to produce far greater amounts of products than people were buying. So the pin-stripers probed the question of how to stimulate people to buy more, and the science of motivation research was born.

Have you ever wondered why, after only two or three years, you begin to itch for a shiny new car? Why don't we simply drive our cars until they stop running before we buy new ones? The answer, a creation of the unholy alliance, is termed psychological obsolescence.

Madison Avenue figured out how to make us feel ashamed to own a slightly used car.



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