A Word to the Men on Discipleship
Men are different.
Different from each other, to be sure, but especially different from women. No surprise there. But that means that women’s ministry and men’s ministries are completely different in the way they look and function. Women go to ministry gatherings and learn about how to be a good wife, or how to be a “Proverbs 31 Woman” and all that mushy gushy stuff. Men go to ministry gatherings that have serious names like Man Church and Men of Faith, and they get hit with the “holy 2x4” of Jesus. They get told how bad they are at life. They get told about their short comings as men, fathers, husbands, brothers, providers… you name it, and we’ve heard it.
And praise the Lord for it!
Men need that. We need someone in our life who will call us out on our crap. God uniquely wired our souls to work in certain ways, which is why men don't gather and make gift baskets, and women don't gather and test their strength. Men need someone to tell them straight, how it is. They need someone to show them the way. They need to learn from someone else’s mistakes.
It’s estimated that only one in every eighteen men are a part of a discipleship ministry. Imagine putting a football team on the field and only one out of every eighteen men have studied the play book. Each player is trusting themselves to be the smartest guy on the team and the reality is that is never the case.
Not being discipled is one of the greatest mistakes a man can make.
One Wednesday night, while working at a church youth group, I was in one of the Student Offices. That night, there was a man who was there who looked somewhat strange. This man wore a tank top, shorts, and flip flops every week. He was probably five-foot-ten with a stocky build. His long, curly, blond hair was always the same style, and always had that fresh-out-of-the-shower look. Although I had seen this man so many times, I had never spoken to him or even knew his name. One day, as he passed the glass window, someone made the comment that he looked like a professional wrestler. Someone in the group worked up the nerve to ask him if he had ever done any wrestling. His response was priceless: “No, I’m an alcoholic.” As it turns out, the guy had been a major part of our men’s recovery ministry. He was there to find and give guidance so that he could live a good life. A Godly life.
My life has been marked by men, older than myself, pouring into me. Since a very young age, I have had a group of men pouring their lives into me and leading me towards Christ. The key? Being totally and completely honest. Being vulnerable. Being exposed. Being true. That is the key to men’s ministry. Men are extremely perceptive to vulnerability, and any hope of growth, demands it.
Every man needs a guide. While Jesus is the ultimate guide, we still need someone to call in the middle of the night when we aren't doing well. We still need someone to sit in a coffee shop and talk about what we are struggling with. We still need someone who will help us carry our burdens.
I once heard an explanation of burdens that really hit me. We each have obligations and duties, but a burden is something that is too heavy for us to be able to carry on our own. We have an obligation as a body (of Christ) to carry the burdens of our brothers (and sisters, too). If we don’t, then we have failed our brothers.
Take it off Facebook
I would never suggest anyone to put their personal problems on Facebook. Traditionally, accountability partners are just one person. Small groups of men are a good idea as well. Just as a wall gets stronger with each brick you add, so does a group of men who are there to build up and edify each other.
A word of warning. You shouldn't expect growth of leaps and bounds. And this isn't something that should be taken lightly. This trust should be honored and valued. The battles of life are daily. Be prepared for the tough days, because they are coming. The truth is, communication is the key. If and only if you are truthful, will you grow and be a part of a community that is worth being a part of.
Camaraderie in Life
The great part of this community is that it’s comprised of men only. No disrespect to women, but at some point men need other men in their corner. There are certain struggles that men should not open up and share with a woman, not even a spouse/significant other (This is an issue of relating not an issue of intimacy or trust). Find a man, preferably older than you, both in age and in faith, and ask them to disciple you… then, be brutally honest. When you are brutally honest to someone, you will find yourself crossing a line of friendship that you can never come back from. But, as a man who has experienced this before, you won’t ever want to come back. This honesty brews an intimate relationship. Each man knows everything about the other. They are open, honest, and vulnerable. This also brews a growth of character and faith. As they grow closer together in friendship, they grow closer to God. Anyone who longs to grow in their faith, must have a partner. Someone who will call them out on their failures. Someone who will keep them in check and tell him like it is. Someone who will be able to withstand the dark and hard days.
Father, I pray for each and every person who will read this. I pray that you would guide us each and every day on a path towards you. I pray that you will guard our hearts from the enemy and that we will yearn for your love and your presence. Your grace still amazes us each and every day. We love you, and we thank you. All these things we pray in your son’s precious name, Amen.
Alex Robertson is a Bond-Servant to Christ, student at Louisiana College, and a lover of people hoping to make disciples who make disciples. Recently, took on a new job at the North American Mission Board.