(A four-minute read)
If you’re a man, and lonely for a friend, or need encouragement, you need a man in your life, not a woman.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not putting down women. They are lovely and empathize well and are more likely to express their feelings overtly than a man. I married a woman, and she’s great!
But I’ve found that women in general are not as good at keeping me accountable as my male friends. And accountability is a critical thing in the life of men.
There are two reasons why I need men for this. One, my biggest challenges are not the same as a woman’s. That Mars-Venus thing is real. Two, there are things I can only share with a man, and won’t share with a woman, not even my wife.
Men Save My Life
Finding men to whom I can be accountable is an important survival tactic. I won’t thrive without it. These guys help keep me from avoidable (read: stupid) mistakes. They tell me the truth. They help me turn back to what’s right when I stumble.
The race of life is not a sprint. Nor is it a marathon. It’s not even a relay race. It’s a combination of the three. I run the race of life for the long haul, as fast as I can, but I do it in the midst of other runners whom I trust. We stick together.
These runners keep my eye on God’s horizon, so I stay on his narrow way, instead of wandering off into the weeds somewhere. It takes focus and dedication and thinking a different way than the world does. It works better in a group.
Men also keep me from freaking out. Don’t succumb to a spirit of fear, guys. You have power, can act in love and – in community – have a sound mind.2
Don’t Go Alone
Why did I add ‘in community’ here? Look at the context (2 Timothy 1:7-9). It’s about us: God has not given us; God who has saved us and called us; not by our works; His…grace which was given us.
Christian men can forget we must be an us not a me. We’re in this together – like it or not – but are all too often tempted to go it alone.
I was called to account on this just today – the day of this writing. I have a weekly call with a friend and in the course of our talking through what God is doing, what we are doing, where things are going, what we want to pray about, I mentioned that I want to learn more about the Fear of the Lord.
My friend immediately suggested we do that together, for accountability.
I’m abashed. I hadn’t thought of that. I forgot the point of this essay, that men are strong in community and weak alone. So I’m preaching to myself here.
Think about King David’s so-called Mighty Men. They were mighty because they were together as a force. Scripture shows that they were mighty as individuals, but they were much more mighty as a team. Read 2 Samuel 23:8-39 in this light. Of course in those days and in that culture how many foes they had slain was the mark of achievement.
Nowadays we are still in battle, but the weapons of our warfare are generally not for hurting flesh and blood as in David’s day. Instead, they are mighty for keeping our minds and hearts free of all the junk and lies the world throws at them.3 These weapons help us take territory from the enemy of God, the devil, and those who serve him. Too many of our family, friends and neighbors have been deceived into unwittingly doing the enemy’s bidding.4 We must fight on their behalf.
Even the Mightiest Can Fall
David himself fell into his great sins of adultery with Bathsheba, and the cowardly murder of her husband Uriah, because he didn’t stick with his men. He went off alone. It was in the spring of the year when kings go out to battle that David stayed back in Jerusalem, vulnerable and alone. He separated himself from his men.3
Men need one another. Let’s never forget that. Culture says otherwise, but don’t listen to it. Culture says men function best as individuals, that we can choose our own destinies. This is not true. The African proverb proves right here: alone we can only run fast, but together is how we run far.
Running fast, being alone, may get us to a destiny first, but we will find no one is there to celebrate with us. No one shares our victory. Running far, in our own groups of Mighty Men, gets us all successfully to the end of the race. And we will be victorious.5 And we will all celebrate together.
1. Romans 12:1-2 (MSG)
2. 2 Timothy 1:7
3. 2 Corinthians 10:4-5
4. 2 Samuel 11:1
5. Philippians 3:12
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