The Marlboro Man. Is there a manlier image from my childhood?
The Six million dollar man was an actor defined by fake stunt scenes, super heroes are super goofy (please – they wear tights) and even Rocky was just another actor.
Sports figures like Lee Roy Jordan, and Mean Joe Green come to mind, but they’re pro athletes; not many of us can become one of those. This guy, Darrell Winfield, was actually a cowboy in Wyoming.
The folks at Phillip Morris were looking for an authentic cowboy to establish their cigarettes as masculine. They went to Wyoming, and found Darrell working on a ranch. He did the ad campaign for a period of time and is referred to as “the real Marlboro man.”
The image spoke to me as a kid. Back when cigarette ads graced the pages of Sports Illustrated, I saw a tough guy who looked like he could handle just about any challenge. He reminds me of Billy Crystal & Bruno Kirby’s comments about Curly in “City Slickers”:
“Did you see how leathery he was? He was like a saddlebag with eyes.”
“This guy Curly, is a true cowboy. One of the last real men. He’s untamed, a mustang.”
Most would say how negative the ads were because they promoted smoking and made it look cool. I agree; that’s another blog for another blogger.
For me, the power of this image is one of fierce independence. It’s a quality that defines our country, and many would argue, what makes our country great. All great qualities also have some negative side effects.
Being independent, able to take care of myself and not needing a thing from anyone, is a value that was just engrained in me. As I read God’s Word, and learn what it means to follow Christ, I have to fight my own fiercely independent nature. It’s not what Jesus has called us to be.
Here are a few fallacies of fierce independence:
Independence teaches me to trust myself, but dependence teaches me to trust my Father in Heaven. David was a shepherd, alone on the Judean hills protecting his flock, where he developed a dependent heart on God. He fought Goliath, a giant no one else would fight, because David knew God was with him; it wasn’t his effort, it was God’s results. He learned this by trusting God every day as a shepherd.
By saying we’re Christians, we proclaim to trust Jesus Christ with our lives. It doesn’t make sense to say we’re His, and only pursue what we want. Jesus’ disciples, His first followers, dropped their nets to follow Him. The more we follow Him, the more we learn to trust Him.
“He guides me along right paths, bringing honor to His name.” –Psalm 23;3
“Those who say they live in God should live their lives as Jesus did.” – 1 John 2:6
“We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in His love. “ – 1 John 4:16
Independence leads to the best I can do, but dependence leads to God-sized results. When we surrender our lives to God, He moves through us in ways we never thought possible. In Acts 10, Peter has a dream and ultimately connects with a Gentile named Cornelius. By following God’s direction in his dream, Peter winds up sharing his faith with Cornelius, his household, friends and relatives. They all come to faith in Jesus; something Peter never expected.
When we follow God, rather than our own way, we see Him move in ways we would have never guessed. He is, after all, supernatural!
“We can make our own plans, but the LORD gives the right answer.” – Proverbs 16:1
“Now all glory to God, who is able, through His mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.” – Ephesians 3:20
Independence fosters loneliness and heartache, while dependence fosters a close relationship with our Heavenly Father and community. When I pursue all I want with fierce independence, I’m tempted to put on a good face, convincing those close to me that everything is great. In dependence, I learn to live a more authentic life, pouring out my heart to my Father and friends.
I become free to be exactly who God made me to be. In trusting and following Him, I experience real love and acceptance.
“Then Jesus said, "Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light."- Matthew 11:28-30
“May they experience such perfect unity that the world will know that You sent me and that You love them as much as You love me.” – John 17:23
Dependence requires surrender, but to a Father who loves us way beyond what we can grasp.