I remember seeing a book with this title once: I Am Third. I didn't read it (My sister was reading it for a class). I just know it was written by Gale Sayers. He was describing his place in life: First in his life was God. Second was his family and friends. Third was himself.
This is what it means to be a man (among other things): being third and bearing weight. I have learned that if you aspire to be a true man you aspire to place your needs and wants behind those of your children and the woman in your life. You also aspire to hold onto the incommunicable weight you will carry throughout life; things you will suffer from so your woman and children do not suffer from them.
Sound depressing? It's not.
A man's joy comes partly through sacrifice. It is part of a real man's nature. He cannot rest or take joy in his own pursuits until he knows his family is safe: his children protected, and the woman in his life is at ease, secure, and happy. To make sure these things happen he is more than willing to put himself at risk, to do whatever is necessary to make sure his home is taken care of and his wife/girlfriend has what she needs to nourish the children. Knowing this, going to bed at night with this knowledge in hand, allows a man to rest. He is secure in the fact that, for another day, he has done what he needed to do to provide for his fam, both emotionally and in practical terms. He has fed the spirit and mind of his loved ones.
I knew this before 2008. But events this year have taken my understanding of the third position to another level. Only God, whatever God you worship, can provide man with the strength and power he needs to carry this weight throughout his lifetime. And only God can show us the joy in that burden.
I have many female friends. So many of them are hurt because the man that was or is still in their lives has placed himself first, ahead of spirituality and far ahead of his wife or girlfriend. Most of these men have not been taught their responsibility and role. Their selfishness has withheld their manhood and kept them frozen in a state of boyhood. It's not easy being a man and this is why many males choose not to.
So, I believe that when God blesses us with the right woman, and through her He blesses us with our children: we should strive to do what is right, what is natural, and what is beautiful.
We should strive to be third.