In an age when social media and smart phones seem to have taken over our lives comes an increased awareness of a category of men I’ll refer to as “that guy” has appeared.
The fear of being “that guy” skyrockets when you realize that thing you said, did or even thought (and will possibly regret) might somehow be documented and blasted out to the whole world in the amount of time it takes for you to get your finger out of your nose.
A lot of men I know don’t want to be “that guy.” Even for good reason. They want to be the “other guy.”
The other guy is guaranteed permanent safety. He’ll never be scrutinized. The other guy is the one people barely remember, if at all. He is often found in the middle of the pack, flying under the radar—enough to confirm his existence, but generally without much purpose. He doesn’t draw attention (good or bad). He doesn’t make things better. But more importantly, he doesn’t make things worse.
So what does it mean to be that guy? From my perception, the world defines him as someone who says or does something inappropriate. Well, what’s considered inappropriate? In my experience, that seems to be whatever the majority perceives as unacceptable behavior.
What’s an example of “that guy” verses “the other guy” in real life?
That guy might look like the cop who blocked off nearby streets after a fire broke out in town. A very “curious” village official approached and said he wanted to get past. (we’ll call him the other guy) That guy hesitated, questioning his motives based on past experience. That guy reluctantly allowed the other guy through, but not without explicit instructions to go no further than he said. The other guy reassured that guy of his impending compliance.
Five minutes later, that guy got a phone call from another officer who told that guy the other guy (official) was roaming about the scene as he pleased.
Stay with me here….
Fast forward a couple hours. The fire was out, it was deemed accidental and everybody cleared. That guy was the supervisor that day, and now that guy had a bit of a dilemma on his hands.
What does that guy do? Does he address the problem, or act like everything is fine and dandy in Mayberry? He thought to himself, “Which guy are you going to be? That guy? Or the other guy?”
The other guy would go about his day on patrol and, outside of some incessant complaining to colleagues, act like nothing happened. That would be the path of least resistance, and likely the path taken by most of my colleagues.
That guy decided to talk to the other guy.
The other guy was busy talking to another “connected” person in town. That guy asked to speak with the other guy privately. That guy voiced his concerns. The other guy responded with an attempted justification for being on the scene. After that guy proved the other guy’s reasons invalid a few times, the other guy got really mad.
In summary the other guy’s response was a grown man‘s version of, “Well, then I’m telling on you!”
That guy thought, “Go right ahead. I didn’t do anything wrong.”
That guy received a written entry in his file about the incident.
The truth can often be mistaken for rudeness.
That guy felt betrayed. That guy was not happy for being written up for doing his job.
That guy chose to be that guy. The other guys chose to support the other guy.
And so …
I don’t regret being that guy.
I can’t control other people. But I can control my decision not to be the other guy.
I believe in a different definition of that guy. That guy is the one who’s not going to keep doing what everyone else is doing merely because that’s what everyone else has always done. I believe that choosing to be that guy in smaller everyday things really pours the cement for a solid foundation in the future. That guy is the one who no longer makes decisions only after making sure the benefits far outnumber the costs of doing what he thinks is right.
That guy, over time, eventually becomes that man.
- That man who will make sacrifices for his family—in time, energy, and finances. And not complain about it or make sure everyone knows.
- That man who will stand up and protect the woman he’s committed to, regardless of the danger he’s in.
- That man who will speak up and defend the store employee getting verbally ripped by an irate customer.
- That man who will trade his life for a total stranger’s without hesitation—because God did that for him.
We can’t always be that guy perfectly. But we can be him increasingly. Sometimes being that guy isn’t fun. Okay—A LOT of times being that guy isn’t fun.
But it’s worth it.
“God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it” -Hebrews 12:10-11 (NIV).
The world is full of a million other guys. There’s definitely no shortage there.
Which guy are you going to be?