Rudyard Kipling’s poem, “If”, brandishes Kipling’s own bold definition of manhood. The poem is a powerful and strident call upon the human soul. Men and women have been stirred by it’s uncompromising standard.
Through history many Britons were inspired by Kipling’s clarion call to unswerving manhood. It is suggested that the poem, written in the early 1900’s, was inspired by Kipling’s friendship with such men as Sir Cecil Rhodes (after whom Rhodesia was named), Lord Milner and Dr Jameson. Derek Prince’s father, a military man himself, drew from the poem to inspire his young son to the stoic qualities Kipling defined.
So, let me remind you of this poem and encourage you to consider its implications for a true definition of manhood. You might like to compare Kipling’s vision of manhood with the testimony of Job, in Job 29:1-25.
“If” by: Rudyard Kipling
If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or, being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or, being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise;
If you can dream — and not make dreams your master;
If you can think — and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with triumph and disaster
And treat those two imposters just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to broken,
And stoop and build ’em up with wornout tools;
If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breath a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: “Hold on”;
If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings — nor lose the common touch;
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you;
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run —
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And — which is more — you’ll be a Man my son!
Note how Kipling celebrates self-discipline here.
Mastery of the human soul gains Kipling’s adulation, where self-control is his abiding principle prize.
Yet a greater mastery transcends this worthy call.
It is not to master, but to be mastered.
Not to harness all, but to yield even more.
Not to hold oneself, but to lose oneself.
Not to excel all others, but to excel in love for others as Christ loves you.
Yes, be master of your realm.
Hold the reins in calm and meek command.
But hold them not for yourself or human purpose, but for the prize of yieldedness alone.
Hold yourself, as a servant holds his tongue and steadies his hand.
Hold yourself as a surgeon presses past duress to save the mangled life at ebb before him.
Master who and what you are, not for your father, your station or your nation – but for the one who is Master of all.
Stand before Him, without fear or shame.
Stand before Him, whether He smile or rebuke.
Stand before Him, unwavering.
So eternity is yours, and, what’s more my son, you will be a Man!
So here is “If continued” …. by Chris Field
If you can stand before the eternal throne
Unflinching in the face of God’s command
And occupy that space as if your own
And there before his searching gaze still stand;
If you can stay your heart from fear or shame
And yield yourself before His awesome will
Unflinching in the fire of holy flame
Determined to be faithful still;
If you can master self not for your own
And stay yourself – thus on the altar stay
And hold yourself for yieldedness alone
If you can live under His sceptre’s sway;
If you can find yourself, yourself to lose
Excelling in your love, as is God’s plan;
If giving all to Him is what you choose,
Eternity is yours and you’re a Man!