If—

Rudyard Kipling
The world needs men like Kipling describes in this poem: wives need them, sons need them, congregations need them, cities need them.

This is a great poem by Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936) about being a man. Too often masculinity is labeled “toxic” in our day, such that one gets the sense it’s a sin to be male in American society. But the world needs men like Kipling describes in this poem: wives need them, sons need them, congregations need them, cities need them. Toward the beginning of the school year I shared this poem with our house captains and talked through it. At Mount Hope Lutheran School, we teach our boys to be men. They may earn the whining of feminists for it, but wife and children and pastor and neighbor will one day thank God for them. Here’s the poem:

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!

In Christ,
Pastor Richard

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