How to Show Up as a Man: Brant Hansen
As a guy, what's it look like to show up? Author and radio host Brant Hansen calls men to be ambitious about the right stuff & gives ideas to do just that.
About the Guest
As a guy, what’s it look like to show up? On FamilyLife Today, Dave and Ann Wilson host author and radio host Brant Hansen, who calls men to be ambitious about the right stuff and gives ideas to do just that.
How to Show Up as a Man: Brant Hansen
David: Hey, guys; David Robbins here, President of FamilyLife. I’m joined here with my wife, Meg.
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Dave: So here’s my question for you today.
Dave: I think I/well, I don’t know—besides my incredible hair that I had when we started dating—[Laughter]—what was it—
Ann: It’s no longer hair.
Dave: —that drew you to me? I literally used to think I had a good head of hair, and so much for that. But you know, when we started dating, it wasn’t my hair.
Ann: Well, you were super cute; still are super cute.
Dave: I’m not looking for that.
Ann: Welcome to FamilyLife Today, where we want to help you pursue the relationships that matter most. I’m Ann Wilson.
Dave: And I’m Dave Wilson, and you can find us at FamilyLifeToday.com or on the FamilyLife® app.
Ann: This is FamilyLife Today!
I think one of those things I saw in you was you’re a leader—and well, maybe it’s more of people are drawn to you—you’re funny; you—
Dave: I didn’t set this up for you to compliment me. [Laughter]
Ann: Okay, but let me get to the biggest thing. I remember, as a believer, watching you—we were both really new in our faith—and I remember thinking, “This guy’s going to do something with his life for Jesus, and I want to be a part of that; because he’s running fast, and I feel like I’m pretty fast, running after Jesus, too.”
Dave: Oh, yes.
Ann: But I thought, “I want to/what would it be like to change the world together for the kingdom of God?”
Dave: I remember you saying to me early, in the first couple months: “You’re the first guy I’ve ever dated who knows who he is and where he wants to go.”
Dave: Do you remember saying that?
Ann: Yes; and there’s something about you, too, that you didn’t really care what people—like you would be dumb in front of people; you’d try anything—you were just uninhibited; and I didn’t have any of that.
Dave: We’re bringing this up because I think every man wants to know who he is and why he’s here. And I think every woman does, too, as well.
Ann: I do, too; yes.
Dave: We have in the studio, back with us today, Brant Hansen, who’s written a book about what men need/what we need in a man.
Ann: It’s called The Men We Need.
Dave: Yes; it’s a great book title as well.
So Brant, welcome back.
Brant: Thank you.
Dave: You’ve written a book called The Men We Need: God’s Purpose for the Manly Man, the Avid Indoorsman, or Any Man Willing to Show Up.
You’re married, with a couple kids.
Dave: We talked yesterday about your vision from Scripture of what a man is called to be.
Dave: Say it in a minute or less.
Brant: Absolutely. I think it’s Adam’s job to be a keeper of the garden; that’s the specific job that he was given. Being a keeper of the garden means you’re protecting this space, and providing for this space, and cultivating. I think about that in my own life—like the people around me—protecting them and helping them bloom and thrive. Again, it’s not about me owning them; it’s about just helping them to thrive—that’s with my wife, my kids, neighbors, anybody I interact with—I feel like that’s my role. You are a protector, and you’re a cultivator. You’re here to help other people thrive.
Once guys get a hold of that, it changes everything.
Ann: Let me ask you this—this might take us into a direction you’re not thinking of going—but as women, we see our men do that out in the world, out in their jobs, out in their occupation; maybe, it’s what they’ve been called to. But then—I talk to so many women—that when a man comes home/the husband comes home;—
Dave: I like how you’re saying this is other wives, not your home. [Laughter]
Ann: —he kind of checks out. To say that he’s helping his wife or his kids to bloom, and blossom, and become what they were created to be, I think a lot of listeners are thinking, “Yes, my husband doesn’t do that at home; he does it out of the home.” Is that our fault?—because, as women, we think, “What am I doing?”
Brant: Well, I think you can help to have this vision I’m talking about, like: “This is the role that a man should have.” As a female, when you understand that, you can draw that out of him.
Ann: —not nagging it out of him.
Brant: No, it’s the exact opposite. I’ll give you a concrete example. And the fact that this has crystallized in my head will tell you the power that women have over their husbands in a beautiful way.
But some people were out—it was a few months ago—but they’re out wrestling/I don’t know what they’re doing out in the street; it was 11 o’clock at night.
Ann: People wrestle out in the street in your neighborhood? [Laughter]
Brant: Not normally; no, not normally. That’s what I mean—it was really strange—it was like a bunch of teenagers or something, a big group. They’re not normally out there.
My wife and I were upstairs in bed, and they kept making noise. She’s like, “Well, this is really making me nervous. We need to do something.” I’m like, “Just let them/they’re just teenagers. Let them just—they’re not threatening us—let’s just go to bed. We’ll turn up the white noise thing.” [Laughter]
Well, then, she gets up after a little bit and goes downstairs; and I’m left lying there.
Dave: Hey, you know what? My wife would do the same thing.
Dave: So she goes down.
Brant: You’re tracking with me.
Brant: I’m lying there while my wife is dealing with whatever. [Laughter] I’m going, “I can’t do that—I can’t let my wife deal with—this is upsetting to her. Whether it’s upsetting to me doesn’t matter.”
I get up; I get dressed—whatever—and go downstairs. I say, “Okay, I’ll go out there”; I open the door, and I go out. As soon as I start walking out there, I see they are all dispersing. I don’t think it was because of me; I think they just happened to be dispersing. I went out there at just the right time to avoid a fight.
When I came back in—and I did nothing—my wife’s like, “That is so attractive.” [Laughter] “Why?!”—I said—“I didn’t do anything; they all just dispersed.” She said, “Yes, but you were willing to.”
Brant: Okay, so that’s crystallized in my mind: “Next time that happens, guess my reaction?” It’s not from nagging; it’s from going, “I really like it when you do that.”
Ann: I’m telling you: I’ve done it wrong for so many years, but there is power in our words that are positive.
Dave: I remember, Brant, I was walking out of the boys’ bedroom—they were little boys, like seven, five, three—I just read a Bible story with them, or whatever, putting them in bed. I’m walking out of their bedroom; they’re going to bed. Ann says to me, in the hallway, “Wow; the power you have, as a man and as their dad, over them, spiritually. That is so wow! Way to go.
Ann: I said, “I’m jealous of the power.”
Dave: “They hang on your every word.”
Brant: And you remember this vividly.
Dave: I remember walking down the stairs, going, “Really?”—trust me; she just said it. For years, she would say something like, “Why don’t you ever put the boys to bed and pray with them?” It didn’t motivate me.
I’m telling you: the next night, I’m running them to bed. [Laughter] The next night, I’m running upstairs, like, “I’m the man!
Dave: “You told me I’m the man!”
Ann: And it happens with our sons too.
Dave: It was just what you said: it was like those affirming words brought life to remind me: “That’s what I’m supposed to do,” “That’s who I’m supposed to be.”
Brant: They will work; look, I’m writing this stuff;—
Ann: —because of your wife’s encouragement.
Brant: —it still works on me. [Laughter]
Dave: Yes; exactly.
Brant: I know better. She could, if she wanted to, manipulate me; but she doesn’t. I mean, it still is powerful.
Don’t think that your husband’s over that, or doesn’t care, or doesn’t absorb—he may not respond verbally or whatever—but this is extremely powerful. But you have to have this vision in your own head of what a man is made for—this is what I’m trying to say—"Keeper of the garden.”
Dave: But in a sense, what Ann was saying earlier is: we tend—maybe, I’m exaggerating—but men tend to do that well or better outside the home: in the workplace, in my job, and maybe even community events that I’ve been called to. And then, often, we come home; and we check out.
Ann: You’re tired.
Dave: Or you used the word before: “We get passive.”
Brant: Yes; I need to be—and this is one of the decisions I put in the book—be ambitious about the right things. What are the right things?—well, you need wisdom to know that; so ask God for wisdom, because wisdom will save you from pain. One of the things that cause immense pain for guys, later in life, is: “Why did I not spend more time with the kids, and enjoy my wife and kids more? Why?”
It’s because, at the time, you didn’t know what to value. Well, that’s what wisdom does; it tells you: “This is more important than that.” You want to know that in the moment. Well, when you’ve got little kids, for example—just use that phase of life—“What matters now, is little kids and your wife, not your job.” I know that sounds crazy, because you’re in this career-building mode.
Dave: Right; right.
Brant: But I actually made the decision: I passed up on law school, because I thought it would be too much for the kids at the time—and took a job that paid almost nothing, but I was done by noon or 1:00 every day—it was a morning radio job and spent the rest of the afternoon at the beach, or swimming with the kids in the pool, or playing and laughing for years. We barely scraped by.
Ann: Was it worth it?
Brant: That was the smartest thing I ever did. And guess what? Now, my kids are older; I have all kinds of time for this career stuff. And God has provided—in time, all that other stuff has come back—I’m fine.
Ann: And I bet they want to be with you guys.
Brant: They know me; I know my kids. They can listen to my podcast, or read my books and stuff, and they’re like, “Hey, that’s Dad.” There is no disconnect.
Ann: That’s big.
Brant: I’m trying to tell guys: “You need to know, right now, you don’t get this back. That time does not come back. So be brilliant—go ahead and stress that—‘Be ambitious about the wife and kids,’—that’s where your energy goes; and then, of course, do your best at work as well’”; but you can’t undo that.
Ann: “Be ambitious about the right things.”
Brant: —"right things,” and “You need wisdom for that.”
Dave: You mention/you write about the six decisions that will set you apart.
Dave: You just hit one of them. Let me ask you this one: Decision 1: “Forsake the fake and relish the real.”
Brant: Yes; this/I’m trying to tell guys, especially younger—but this is me, too—I’m talking about video games. They are wonderfully fun; that’s almost the problem/is they’re too fun. I’m not saying they’re inherently evil; I play video games. But they let you level up really quickly—and you get a dopamine hit from seeming accomplishments—you’re fighting fake enemies for fake causes, but it’s not real. You don’t want to look back over the course of your life and think that all of your adventures and accomplishments were fake, but that’s what it’s going to do to us.
Let’s make sure that we look back on our lives and know that we actually lived it with reality—flesh and blood—and that the people around us benefitted from our gifts, instead of getting it all sucked away into this. So that’s what I’m talking about: “Relishing the real.”
Ann: What about: “Protecting the vulnerable”; because that’s your Number 2.
Brant: That’s a big part of being the keeper of the garden. That’s, actually, when we’re at our best and using whatever skills we have to protect the vulnerable.
It’s interesting—I read in another book—this guy was telling the author: “You know, I always thought I would defend my wife and kids if there’s an intruder. I’d defend my wife, no matter what. I would tell myself, ‘You’re a real man, because you’d grab a gun—or you’d whatever—you’d defend your wife, keep her from being hurt.’” And then he said, “But then I realized the intruder, most of the time, is me. It’s my words that hurt my wife, or my lack of words, or my tone, or the things I say to my kids.”
So when I talk about defending the vulnerable—it’s not just about being armed or guarding the house with a good alarm system or something—I’m talking about building them up; it’s a decision that you make. Once you see that that’s your role, you can find your own way of defending the vulnerable with whatever you have.
Dave: One of the things we’ve talked about is Adam was the keeper of the garden, but he failed. He actually became passive, and he’s like an example of what you shouldn’t do. Yet, Jesus is the example of what a real man looks like.
Dave: Give us a study of: “What does Jesus model for us?”
Brant: I call it the Jesus Master Class. Look at the women around Him:
- Look at the woman He met at the well—she blossoms, and thrives, and comes alive—it’s a woman with a terrible reputation: Jesus picked her.
- There’s another example. There’s a big-shot head of the synagogue, who wants Jesus to heal his kid—he is an important guy—but there’s a woman in the crowd, who touches the hem of His/Jesus’ garment. Jesus stops everything, including delaying helping that guy; and He talks to her and calls her “daughter.”
As a man, we’re all into, a lot of times, valuing certain people—and “This person’s important,”—we’re always indexing important. Jesus just flips that on its head. I do see that as an example of a man not being passive: He’s defending women; He’s advancing women. Whereas, Adam is right there with Eve; and he does nothing.
Ann: Well, he does say, “The woman You gave me…” [Laughter]
Brant: Exactly; Adam is brilliant about blaming simultaneously. It’s so genius in a way, because it’s economical: he blames God and Eve at the same time.
Brant: The double-blame move.
And here’s Jesus, not blaming, of course—taking responsibility, and defending, and advancing women—which is exactly the opposite of what Adam did, when he could have intervened. He could, but he wasn’t a good keeper of the garden.
Jesus is this Person, whom everyone around Him, who knows Him, comes alive. That is a keeper of the garden/a cultivator. We bear fruit because of Him. That was a job that Adam was given; and Jesus completed it, and we get to be part of it.
Dave: So in a sense, you’re saying: “When we walk in the front door of our home, our wife and our kids should be—something in their soul stirs and comes to life—like, ‘Dad’s home,’ ‘My husband’s home’; ‘That’s a good thing: “I feel seen,” “I feel heard,” “I feel like I come to become who God’s made me to be because this man/his presence does that.”’”
That’s what Jesus did; is that what you’re saying?
Brant: Think of yourself as like a farmer, who wants to see these plants bloom spectacularly.
Ann: “I’m going to get watered today; Dad’s home.”
Brant: He’s making this space work, where we can do our thing; he makes that work—and it’s not about him—but you thrive and blossom.
The respect that you get, as a man, from that is intense. If you’re yearning for respect, it will come because of that. You can demand respect all you want; but if you make people feel secure around you, you actually get it. That has lo-o-o-o-ng term implications. That is the guy, who is surrounded by generations, at the end of his life.
Ann and Dave: Yes.
Brant: That want to be with him; it’s because of that.
Ann: I like what you said, when you said: “You can have a tremendous unseen effect on those around you. You can set the tone; you start the melody and others will sing along,”—in your home, you’re saying.
Brant: You set the tone, because you’re engaged.
Ann: That’s the piece—
Brant: And if you’re not engaged, the music of the house is chaos; and you can hear it reverberating. But the problem is: you’re there, but you’re not.
Ann: And especially, today: I can walk into our kids’ houses and our house, and we’re all on our phones.
Brant: Any guy listening: “Oh, no; I feel guilty,” because they hear me talking about it.
Ann: I’m doing the same thing.
Brant: No, no, no; exactly. It’s an opportunity, and it’s not too late if you’re old enough, or you’re alive enough to hear us talking about it: “Well, we can change.” If one person rethinks—humbles himself and rethinks—that’s what “repent” means: reconsiders/starts a new way—well, we can do that.
We have this brilliant model in Jesus—we have this image of the keeper of the garden—this role that God gave Adam that we can understand, and learn, and grow in. It’s not too late to become, like: “Oh, now, I get it,”—okay; good—"We got it; let’s do this thing.”
Dave: So many men I’ve talked to—you know, helping lead a church for all these years—I led a lot of men, and would sit with them, and they would say things like this: “I know what to do at the job. I trained for it; I got a degree in it. I walk in that door, and I feel competent. It’s like: ‘Hey, I can do this; I do this well.’
Brant: Right; that’s right.
Dave: “I walk in my front door/I walk in my garage door; and I’m like, ‘I don’t know what to do here.’
Dave: “’I feel incompetent.’ So I get passive. I don’t want to be passive; but I just feel like, ‘I don’t know what to do.’ She’s better at this, so I just defer.”
What do you say to that guy?—
Brant: Okay, so you’re right.
Dave: —besides: “Step up.”
Brant: Yes; okay. “Step up” is a great thing to say; but a lot of people are like, “Yes, I’m glad you wrote a man book; guys need to step up,”—step up and what?
This is what I’m trying to answer, like: “Here’s how you step up. It’s the keeper of the garden thing, is what we’re talking about. We tend to gravitate, as you’re saying, towards things that we feel competent in.”
I will—an exception—I still play basketball. I should have quit a long time ago—[Laughter]—5’10”; can’t shoot: "Stop it.”
Dave: Well, I mean, I don’t go pick up a violin;—
Brant: Right; okay. So—
Dave: —but I’ll pick up a guitar.
Dave: I can do that.
Brant: We will gravitate towards those things we feel confident.
With relationships, almost none of us feels confident in relational stuff—that’s the home; that’s other stuff, too—it takes bravery to do relational stuff. If you engage in it, you have my respect. You don’t have to be great at it—but the willingness to do it—that’s bravery. It takes more bravery to walk across the street than it does to go to another country, across the world, if it means talking to a neighbor when you don’t feel comfortable.
It's really hard for me. I am not outgoing—I’m not smooth socially—kind of smooth, but I’ve had to learn it. [Laughter]
Dave: I was going to say you’re pretty suave, baby. [Laughter]
Brant: No, it’s only because I’m talking about something. Small talk: I’m terrible. But I’ve had to learn, like: “Okay, so that’s like jumping out of a plane—it’s a different kind—but that’s what we’re here for.” It does take bravery—it is hard; let’s acknowledge it—but let’s also respect it.
If you’re willing to say: “I’m going to do this, even though I don’t feel competent. I don’t always know what to do, as a dad—I don’t—but I’m going to keep showing up.” Faithfulness is everything, so much respect to you. And if you haven’t heard somebody say that to you before, let us be the first ones to say it: “If you’re doing that—you’re doing relationships, and you don’t feel strong at it—we have a lot of respect for you.”
Dave: Even as you’re saying that, Brant, I’m thinking, “Okay; if I want to be brave, as a man, husband, dad—
I grew up with no dad; so I walked into our marriage, and then, as a dad: “I don’t know what to do.” It could have been easily an excuse: “Well, you know”—victim mentality—"I didn’t have a dad; I’m not going to do a good job”; or
—bravery is like: “I’m going to figure this out. I’m going to talk to men. I’m going to read. I’m going to study. I’m going to look at Jesus. I’m going to do whatever it takes to become the best husband that’s ever lived,”—I’m exaggerating—"but I’m going to make myself good at this.”
I was thinking as you were saying that, I was thinking, “Okay; so if a man is listening right now: “You want to be brave?”—wouldn’t this be interesting?—what if you’re the one saying, ‘Honey, let’s go to the Weekend to Remember marriage getaway.’ Your wife might go, ‘What?!
Brant: “What happened to you?”
Dave: “’You’re asking me to go rather than the other [way around]?’”
Because often, we get up on stage at that marriage weekend; and we’re like: “The men were dragged there—their wives are like: ‘Come on; will you please go with me? I want our marriage to be better,’ ‘Okay,’”—rather than—“Honey, let’s go to a counselor. We need help; let’s go get help,”—lead in that area. That’s a brave move for a guy;—
Brant: It is.
Dave: —that’s scary.
Brant: It’s big time; and no one, outside, is applauding.
Dave: Right; right.
Brant: That’s the tough thing—you don’t get promoted; you don’t get that immediate feedback—so it does take bravery and determination. Again, even if no one else is applauding you, please know we get it: “That’s hard.”
Brant: It was always hard for me, even to talk about our marriage. I’ve gotten a lot better at it, but I just/I don’t want to talk about relationship stuff.
Dave: And yet, that’s what you said earlier: “That’s being ambitious about what matters.”
Brant: —about what matters.
Dave: —the right things: your marriage, your family. At the end of the day, it’s all you got!
Brant: Relationships are it—that’s all you remember at the very end—that’s all you have.
Ann: I think that’s [helpful] for us, as women; because what we can do is we can applaud as you guys make those steps/a baby step—some women can think: “Well, about time!” and “I’ve been wanting this forever,”—but just to acknowledge: “Wow, thanks for making that step; that probably wasn’t easy.” That’s a great thing that we can say, as women.
Dave: I would just add, from one man to another: “Today’s the day.
Dave: “Don’t wait until tomorrow,” “…this weekend,”—“No, today; take a step today—small, small step. Become the man God’s called you to be, right here, right now; and watch God move.”
Shelby: You’ve been listening to Dave and Ann Wilson with Brant Hansen on FamilyLife Today. We’re going to hear an important message from Brant in just a second; but real quick, his book is called The Men We Need: God’s Purpose for the Manly Man, the Avid Indoorsman, or Any Man Willing to Show Up. You can get Brant’s book at FamilyLifeToday.com or by calling 800-358-6329; that’s 800-“F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then the word, “TODAY.”
We asked Brant Hansen what his thoughts were about FamilyLife and what God is doing through this ministry. Here’s what he said.
Brant: Hey, my name is Brant Hansen. I’m an author, and a radio guy, and a big fan of this ministry. I’m a fan of what Dave and Ann do on FamilyLife, the way that they honestly talk about things, and the way they point to the kingdom of God. There’s not much in our culture like this; it’s such a refreshing thing.
I wanted to let you know, if you want to donate to support it, it would be wonderful. All this month your donation gets doubled, and that’s a huge thing to support this ministry. If you can’t, [I] totally understand. But if you are in a place, where you could do that, thanks for locking arms with FamilyLife this month, and making this incredibly important ministry happen; you will be making a difference.
Shelby: Giving to make a difference—partnership is really what it’s all about—and we’d love to have you partner with us. Thanks to some generous Ministry Partners, your gift will be matched, dollar for dollar, until we hit $2 million—that’s a one-time gift; or if you become a monthly Partner right now, your monthly gifts will be doubled for the next
12 months—again, you can give today at FamilyLifeToday.com; or you can give us a call at 800-358-6329; that’s 800-“F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then the word, “TODAY.”
I bet you might be able to relate to this: “I’m a dad, and I’m totally clueless,”—that’s true—but tomorrow, on FamilyLife Today, Dave and Ann Wilson will be joined, once more, with Brant Hansen to talk about showing up and getting on the right track to figuring this thing out so we aren’t clueless. That’s tomorrow.
On behalf of Dave and Ann Wilson, I’m Shelby Abbott. We will see you back next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
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