Curtis burst into my office, pushing past my administrative assistant, leaving in his wake papers fluttering from her desk. "I can't take this anymore! I'm done!" I continued looking at the papers on my desk as he paced the floor in front of me. Finishing the paragraph I had been reading, I looked up at Curtis and said, "Hello, Curtis. It's good to see you."
"I can't take this anymore! He's driving me crazy!" Chest heaving, still pacing, eyes darting from one side of the room to the other, Curtis seemed to be having a conversation with himself more than me.
I finally came around the desk and asked Curtis to sit on the brown futon across from me. He paced a minute more then forced his body onto the couch. "Now," I said softly, "tell me what's going on."
I learned a lot about Curtis that day — about his acrimonious relationship with his father, about his desire for a new life, about his ambitions as an artist, and about the workings of his inner life. At this point in his 19-year-old life, Curtis lacked that one ingredient essential to biblical manhood: self-control.
Why Self-Control Is the One Essential Ingredient
Self-control (or its absence) lies at the root of so many other things we recognize as problems in the thoughts, feelings, and decisions of men. For example, the inability to say no before intoxication indicates an ungoverned inner life (Eph. 5:18). Immodest clothing stems from a lack of self-restraint (1 Tim. 2:9; it applies to men too!). So does sexual immorality (1 Cor. 7:9). When pornography ravages a man's inner life, it is in part because he has not yet learned to harness and master his desires. "A man without self-control is like a city broken into and left without walls" (Prov. 25:28).
Perhaps this is why self-control emerges in so many places where the Bible gives us glimpses into the lives of men. Consider the examples from the book of Titus. Paul writes to Titus, in part, because he wants to see things put into order in the churches in Crete. That means the appointment of elders in every town, elders who among other things are self-controlled (Titus 1:8). This quality stands in contrast to being "arrogant or quick-tempered or a drunkard or violent or greedy for gain" (1:7) — all things that describe men whose inner lives are wrecked by sin.