The title says it all – I am going to “think out loud” and piece together what I have been learning over the last month. None of this is edited and primed for a book, but that is the beauty of a blog. Disclaimer stated, allow me to forge forward.
There is an absence of realness within the realm of men. Big ideas and vision come forth and words of wisdom are spoken, but little action is taken, and even fewer relationships built around truth. It is easier for guys to gather and watch football games and to avoid getting into one another’s lives. Trust me, I can watch a Chief’s game with the best of them, and when the NFL season comes around again, I’ll find a way to be in Arrowhead at least once this coming year. However, there simply has to be more to man-to-man relationships than beer, food, and sports. And I do appreciate all of those things.
What are the roadblocks that keep men from connecting?
I’ll lead by example. Here are some of the things that keep me from true fellowship (at times):
I am fearful. While transparent most of the time, it is difficult to get to a deeper level with others at times. If you know all of me – all of my insecurities, sin hiccups, and desires/dreams, then you may think I’m crazy. There are few that I would like to trust with all of that. Not to mention, it is much easier to remain commander-in-chief of myself – to be the only one that knows all of my secrets.
I think men operate this way, a lot. In order to save-face, we avoid showing our face. Yes, you see us at church, and sure, we showed up to the Men’s Retreat, but we slip out the back-door right afterward and awkwardly avoid putting our phone-number on the list of contacts, because that would mean that someone might get to know who we actually are – and there’s a chance they may not like that. In other words – On the altar of reputation, we sacrifice relationship – putting discipleship to death.
This should not be. We need each other. There need to be those people in our lives that know our crap, so they can get down in the trenches with us, clean us up, and get a group together to lift us up out of the pit with prayer.
Which brings me to my next discovery. We have unwittingly bred a generation of passive men. In the spirit of not hurting anyone, or ruffling anyone’s feathers, we’ve emasculated manly strength, and invited authentic manhood into silent exile. However, in the spirit of truth and redeeming the lifeblood of The Church, it is time to call the men back out – to heal, restore, and utilize their strength. You cannot (or at least shouldn’t) tame a lion, but you can appreciate its strength. A champion horse is only champion when it’s gone thru the hard work of training to win the race.
We need strong men in the church – not ones that will manipulate and coerce, but ones that are willing to boldly speak truth into the lives of others, take the time necessary to sacrificially love and disciple others, and use their resources/strength to serve. This is no small task. It requires training. It will take time, prayer, study, relationships, and lots and lots of practice. Because, let’s face it – this is something that does not come naturally.
I believe this requires a great deal of love.
“To love at all is to be vulnerable.” (C.S. Lewis)
Being vulnerable is hard. It leaves you open and available, and leaves the possibility of being hurt wide-open. It’s much easier to stay hidden – for no one to know us. Isolation is safer (in our eyes), because at least no one can stab us in the back. The problem with this theory is that satan loves the isolated – they make extremely easy targets for depression, doubt, fear, and others dark clouds that ultimately lead to one’s faith being snuffed. Therefore, isolation is not safer, wiser, or best – it is in fact the absolute worst idea ever. Do NOT become isolated. The walls you build to “protect” yourself do just the opposite – they hurt you, sometimes leading to spiritual suicide.
Friends, we must love. We must embrace vulnerability and find ourselves stronger in the LORD for it. If we submit to the LORD and find our identity secured in Him, then serving and following others will no longer be considered a loss of ourselves, but rather, an act of worship – offering our bodies as living sacrifices for a Holy God.
Men younger than you (spiritually or physically) need your leadership, but you must also lay aside your pride and seek out someone older as a mentor – someone to whom you will allow some spiritual-authority in your life. A leader that is not also being led should not be trusted – for his pride will be his downfall, and his lack of accountability a snake waiting to strike his heel.
I am not an expert. I am still a young man seeking out a mentor of my own – getting plugged in and looking for faithful younger men to lead. I’m still learning. But these are some of the thoughts the Lord has placed on my heart, and I wanted to share them.