The Measure of a Man

The Measure of a ManMy wife and I were recently meandering through the back roads and little towns of East Texas. We stopped at a roadside antique store as is our custom. Something caught my eye that I had never seen before. They were Measuring Rods. Just look at the picture on the left and you will see what I saw.

Measuring rods have been around for thousands of years. The earliest preserved one known is a copper-alloy bar which was found by a German Assyriologist while excavating at Nippur in Southern Mesopotamia. The bar dates from circa 2650 BC. and it was used as a measurement standard.

In the Middle Ages, bars were used as standards of length when surveying land. These bars often used a unit of measure called a Rod (unit) of length equal to 5.5 yards, 5.0292 meters, 16.5 feet, or 1⁄320 of a statute mile. The rod unit was still in use as a standard unit of measurement in the mid-19th century, when Henry David Thoreau used it frequently when describing distances in his literary work Walden.

Standard. Now there is a word that we don’t hear very often. In fact we live in a world that doesn’t really have standards or expectations any longer. Certainly not when it comes to how we live our daily lives. We are told that if it feels good to us and it doesn’t impinge on anyone else’s rights, then it is OK to do.

Why was the measuring bar so necessary? It took the guesswork and personal preferences out of the equation. Everyone accepted the rod as being accurate and absolute. If you wanted to measure something on your own property, you went and borrowed the rod. Or you went and took a piece of stick or metal or whatever you could get your hands on and laid the rod down next to your item and very carefully cut your rod to the exact same length. You never made another rod from your rod. You always went back to the original, or standard, rod and cut your new one. If you didn’t keep going back to the original, each rod you cut from subsequent rods would be a little longer or shorter with each successive cuts. The changes may not seem obvious from one to another. But over time the variance was dramatic.

So what is the leadership principle here?

We need to go back to a recognized standard to define and measure a man. The Bible has proven to be a pretty good standard. And I encourage you to measure yourself against that rod.

Is the measure of a man the amount of money he makes? No – It is how he provides for the real needs of his family.

Is the measure of a man the kind of car (or big truck) he drives? No – It is where he takes his family that matters.

Is the measure of a man the clothes he wears? No – It is in the way he carries himself and walks with integrity and honor.

There was a popular song by musical group 4Him that was recorded in 1996. This article is getting a little long. But I think it is worth ending with the lyrics of that song.

The Measure of a Man

This world can analyze and size you up
And throw you on the scales
They can IQ you and run you through
Their rigorous details

They can do their best to rate
And they’ll place you on their charts
And then back it up with scientific smarts

But there’s more to what you’re worth
Than what their human eyes can see

Oh, I say the measure of a man
Is not how tall you stand
How wealthy or intelligent you are
‘Cause I found out the measure of a man

God knows and understand
For He looks inside to the bottom of your heart
And what’s in the heart defines
The measure of a man

Well, you can doubt your worth
And search for who you are and where you stand
But God made you in His image
When He formed you in His hands

And He looks at you with mercy
And He sees you through His love
You’re His child and that will always be enough

For there’s more to what your worth
Than you could ever comprehend

Oh, I say the measure of a man
Is not how tall you stand
How wealthy or intelligent you are
‘Cause I found out the measure of a man

You can spend your life pursuing physical perfection
But there’s so much more than ever meets the eye
For God looks through the surface
And he defines your worth by what is on the inside

Oh, I say the measure of a man
Is not how tall you stand
How wealthy or intelligent you are
‘Cause I found out the measure of a man

Songwriter(s): Donald A. Koch, Mark R. Harris
Copyright: Bridge Building Music, Point Clear Music, New Spring Publishing Inc., Dayspring Music LLC


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I am the husband of a beautiful and wonderful woman. I am the father of two of the greatest kids on the planet. I am a father-in-law to a great young woman. And I am Papa to three very special grandchildren. In my spare time I am an active blogger and writer. And if there is any time left over, I work with small non-profit organizations and churches on the topics of change management, crisis intervention and leadership development.

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