The Clan of the Cave Bear was a 1986 movie based on a 1980 novel of the same name about cave-man battles in ancient history. This article has nothing to do with this movie or book. This article only borrows the catchy title, The Clan of the Cave Bear, to describe a common tendency of adult males.
When men reach a certain age, the enroll themselves in The Clan of the Cave Bear. Not like joining social clubs or service organizations (an annual membership in the Dayton Chamber of Commerce costs $120), membership in The Clan of the Cave Bear comes naturally, like wrinkles and gray hair. As men age, they become solitary and bear-like, and they prefer the exclusive company of their caves.
Much of this process is positive. As engineers, educators, or electricians, maturing men develop professional skills in which they take justifiable pride. Working within their confident skills, men slowly separate from the rest of the world. Unfamiliar with other caves and uncomfortable with other clans, men slowly retreat into the comfort of their own cave and their own clan of engineers, educators, electricians, or etc. Good for them. They work hard and deserve their confident solitude.
But what is mostly positive can also be slightly negative. Retreating into their cave, many men just don't want to come out. At all. Ever.
One negative result of the comfort of The Clan of the Cave Bear is summarized in a study of men's' greatest fears. Never fearing challenges that they can meet with their professional skills, men fear situations that drag them out of their cave comfort zone. What is the greatest fear of men?
A study was conducted to answer this question. Three thousand men were surveyed. Tied for number six on the list of greatest fears were terminal illness and dying. What was the number-one greatest fear? More than fearing dreaded illness or even death, members of The Clan of the Cave Bear fear standing to make any kind of presentation in public.
Comedian Jerry Seinfeld summarized the findings:
According to most studies, men fear public speaking more than they fear dying. That means, to the average man, if they have to go to a funeral, they'd rather be in the casket than doing the eulogy.
Men who can build buildings, coach teams, and solve engineering problems are terrified when asked to stand in front of others and utter a sound. Never required to forsake The Clan of the Cave Bear, they would probably be happier if they crawled out more often. The ones who do crawl out and present themselves publicly are due great respect for overcoming their fears. Our adult men who lead our prayers, teach our classes, speak at our devotionals, or lead or songs should enjoy our great respect and appreciation.
Especially our song leaders. All the time. From all of us. Without exception.
Men like Danny Balch, Kelly McCain, Michael Simmons, Shannon Smith, and William Wingfield would just as soon remain in their caves. They will lead singing, but they will be happier if someone else takes their place. Their willingness, in other words, is not the same as eagerness.
That's why we should respect them so much. Willing but not quite eager, they have overcome deep internal resistance and reluctance. They abandon The Clan of the Cave Bear, stand up in front of us, and do what most men simply will not do.
Shame on us if we have ever given them any reason for regret.
We have Mother's Day. We have Promotion Day. We even honor our helpful secretaries on Secretaries Day, er, Administrative Professionals Day. Why not have a Song Leaders Day? It can be like a coming out party - coming out of The Clan of the Cave Bear to lead singing!
How about today?
If you see Danny, Kelly, Michael, Shannon or William, tell them thanks. Tell them you appreciate their sacrifice. Tell them that you cannot wait until the next time they come out of their cave to sing.