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Shaping Up

I am looking forward to what lies ahead in 2014, and have been praying and thinking about something different that I could do than I have done in any other year. I have often thought about writing and blogging, but didn’t know exactly what I would write and blog about. As of late however, I thought about it more and more. So for this year, here I go. I hope that what the future holds through this blog will be a help and encouragment!

Shaping Up is directed to take men in ministry up a journey with it. Haven’t you ever heard the phrase, “shape up?” I know I have, whether from my father, or my coach, or even the Holy Spirit. Sometimes there are just areas or things that are left undone.

But, 1 Corinthians 14:40 says,

“Let all things be done decently and in order.”

I’m pretty sure that little three letter word all means, all. And well, the next word is, things. Hmm… All things.

There are many books and blogs out there focused on the Gentlemen and a guide to proper etiquette. I have come across one in my lifetime that was written by a Christian, with a biblical focus.

So my desire with this blog is that it will serve as a bit of a Christian Gentleman’s Guide, and to possibly aid you in SHAPING UP those things. I do not consider myself to be an expert by any means, but just an enthusiast who would like to share what I have learned from personal experiences and research. I spent almost 10 years through high school, college, and post-college working and selling men’s clothes and shoes in retail stores in New Hampshire, California, and Connecticut (yes, I’ve been all over the place). I worked for Dillard’s in CA (men’s clothing and shoes), Ecco, USA in NH (men’s shoes), and also Nordstrom in CT. These jobs, mind you, were not as simple as bringing a box of shoes to a customer, walking away and talking to my coworkers while the customer tried the shoes on himself. I fit the customer to the right product and size. So product knowledge was essential. Therefore I gained quite a bit of knowledge of leathers, quality, fitting, what each brand offered… and I just want to use this knowledge for the Lord to help others.

You may be thinking that this is silly, or that it doesn’t matter nor pertain to you. Really? Well, “gentlemen”, we stand in front of a congregation and preach His Word, or stand in front of a Sunday School class and teach The Book. Or you may stand in front of or sit around co-workers who see you 5-6 days a week. Do you carry yourself decently and in order? Or do others think of you as looking “disheveled”?

As I previously mentioned, one of the stores I worked for was Nordstrom, which is a high end retail store. At one point, the Men’s Suits department was in need of a new department manager. They gave the position to a fella from within our store. The problem was that he was so unkempt. He always looked a mess. And most of the time it didn’t matter because he mostly sat in the back room all day. He would often stroll into work late, with shirt tale untucked, tie untied hanging around his neck, eating donuts. Now, what you would naturally think is, “Terrible representation of this store.” or… “I would never buy a suit from him.” These assessments would be correct. And if he is to be a better representation of the store he works for, then we furthermore ought to be better representations of the God we live for. No joke, he even wore white tube socks with his suits! Terrible!! File that under “Never Do” right now!

Paul said in Philippians 3:14

“I press toward the mark for prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.”

Why is it that you always see men in high position dressed nicely and appropriately all the time? How often do you see the President of the United States out of a suit? Not often. It is because they dress up to their position. We have the highest calling one could have, to be a preacher of the Gospel, to be a Christian – a follower of Christ. Let’s press toward that mark in all areas, and SHAPE UP to our position.

Would you sit down, to eat dinner, at a restaurant where there were stains all over the table cloth? And what if the glasses you were supposed to drink from had spots all over the inside? Probably not.

Now, Shaping Up won’t only be all about how we carry ourselves physically, but also spiritually. We need to shape up much more than just our wardrobe. First and foremost, it’s our heart and personal hidden life that needs to be in good shape! So I will also include things I’ve learned in ministry, i.e. Children’s ministries, being a second (or third or fourth) man, and even being bi-vocational. I will feature guest posts from gentlemen who specialize in specific areas, that can help us in those, be it personal or ministry related.

It’s not all about spending tons of money on expensive clothing. That’s not it at all. I have and have had many ties, shirts, shoes, suits even that I found at a thrift store. I’m not saying we should spend all our money on clothes and suits and ties. I’ll put it this way. While in Bible college, I was helping with a summer camp which was being hosted by our church. I was privileged to spend some time with the evangelist who was preaching all that week (if there’s one thing I can recommend to young preachers, it’s spend time with veteran preachers and soak in as much as you can!). It came up that I sold men’s shoes and we began to talk about different brands, price points, quality, etc. He proceeded to tell me that a preacher once told him that you should never spend less than $200.00 for a pair of shoes. I disagree! You can spend that much if you can afford it and if you want to. But you don’t have to! Put those ones on your Christmas list, let someone else buy them for you, and I’ll share with you ways that you can wear $200.00 shoes without spending that much, or at least maintaining your shoes so they look like $200.00 shoes!

I am hoping this will be fun and helpful! Feel free to send me special topic requests at any time!

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3 Comments

  1. Great point about the President’s suit, Joe. I would argue, however, that a president is not defined by his suit, merely ridiculed by the media if he is not in one at the right moments.
    His success as a leader is also not measured by his suit, but by the actions he takes to fulfill his oaths of office.

    While the point is taken at face value, I would argue that righteousness wears rags as well as riches. That suburbia needs suburban missionaries, and the slums, maybe, need a little bit of dirt.

    LOVE the concept here though. The Christian Gentleman 🙂 Keep up the good work bro.

    • Marc, thanks for your comment! And I agree with you. There is much more to leadership than just the suit. Very true. But when we are going to put that suit on, we may as well wear it properly and wear one that fits. If we are going to put on a pair of dress shoes with it, we may as well have them polished. And true about righteousness wearing rags and riches, but I’ve never been rich =) and have just found ways to wear the simple things I have had and that I could afford to at least look tastefully put together.

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