Men’s groups in our churches have many functions. We have social activities like golf outings, BBQ’s, and softball leagues; we accomplish much-needed and appreciated work to support the needy through construction projects, skilled trades, and missional activities. These are all important components for not only the men, but the church, the community and the world at large; their impact cannot be questioned. There are also men’s Bible study and prayer groups, they help us focus on the importance of our knowing God and the scriptures, lifting each other up with prayerful petitions we are made corporately stronger. Right there within this group of men who serve, is the genesis of an even more powerful potential.
Last night I connected with a group of men, who like me, are continually seeking truth through faith and finding strength in our singular focus to be real and courageous men of God. We cut through the trivial conversations men tend to stop with and dig deep into who we are, why we are, and work to find solutions for our brokenness together. We are strengthened in community through our shared and common struggles; honesty between us opens doors to freedoms that were previously denied through our isolation.
That kind of authenticity is uncomfortable; we can find it difficult to open up and be real with another Christian man, even though the benefits could be beyond our imagination.
We like to keep things at a level of comfort that doesn’t often delve into the tucked away recesses of our minds, thoughts, and actions. We allow stuff to fester in our brains such as anger, resentment, lust, perfectionism, fear, anxiety and doubt. Many questions we cannot find answers to just sit there, and the days turn to years, and then into decades. We seem to be OK from the outside, and as life progresses we go to work, worship alongside other believers, interact capably with our society, and yet we remain unsettled deep within.
By keeping ourselves distracted and busy doing “stuff”, we decide to ignore throbbing anxiety that is like a constant nagging headache.
Maybe you are just fine with what’s worked so far. After all, why rock the boat and disturb your system which doesn’t appear broken? Hmmmm, why indeed. Let a brief telling of my story illuminate why.
My life had become a facade belying what was really going on underneath the skin I wore. I had wounds, questions, and deep hurts which I learned to hide and rationalize to myself and others. I got good at “religious speak” and passed myself off as a normal, well-adjusted Christian man. I had serious issues, but even the most spiritual had chalked them up to behavior best dealt with with more praying, Bible reading, and of course, “just stop doing that!”I was even able to achieve my dream of fulltime ministry as a worship pastor. But it all came crashing down.
My slowly eroding foundation eventually gave way to a catastrophic collapse, and I lost virtually everything.
THE GOOD NEWS! In spite of this lifetime of dysfunction, God has restored hope, and much of it has come in a community of authentic men. Men who are warriors, bonded together fighting for their personal wholeness and the lives of the men around them. Yes, there has been increased prayer and Bible study, but the mining of the soul that has taken place has blasted through the solid rock of denial and opened my eyes to the amazing possibilities that had gone unrealized for so long.
Men, let’s be real with one another and lay aside our pride and preconceptions so that we can drink fully of all God has for us. Find others in your church who desire the same authentic and accountable relationships. It may be only one or two others to begin with, but the change that happens in your life will draw others to see what God is doing. Don’t forget Celebrate Recovery, Pure Desire, and other dynamic groups that have a more focused ministry and have shown positive results for people’s needs.