(In light of yesterday’s article about the background of this site, here’s an article reprint – with some updates – from before the site was launched. By way of context: It was written to accompany a sermon on being a Godly man. While women are welcome to read this article, please be nice to the men in your lives if they don’t follow all of these guidelines!)
In today’s world of Facebook (if you still use Facebook), the idea of “friends” gets too easily confused with “acquaintances”. We know a lot of people – maybe even enough to greet them by name at work, or to reply to their posts – but often don’t know and share the really important things with them. There’s nothing wrong with knowing a lot of people, and in influencing them (for good) as best as you can. It’s just that we can’t be close friends with more people than our temperament and schedule allows. In reality, our public face is all too often just a fake, positive-skewed front, and the man behind the mask is visible only to a few.
Even with our true friends, though, we can still spend a lot of time in “surface-talk”. There’s nothing wrong with talking about the game or the news, or even the latest project from Popular Mechanics. But sometimes, we – as men – really need more than that.
There are two parts of a solution to this situation:
Sometimes, you may need to be the one to broach the subject, and talk about what is really going on inside you. If you have something on your heart, it might be tough to be open up. However, if you have selected your friends well, the net result will be good for both of you. No matter how unusual that you think your personal challenges are, there is a pretty good chance that your buddies will either “get it”, or know someone who has gone through the same thing. There is nothing like finding that you’re not alone in a struggle that you’ve been carrying on your own – whether it is shared by someone with the same struggles, or whether your friends support you through it. I can personally attest to this – one time, when sharing one of my own challenges (even though I was doing so to support another friend who was going through something similar), a third friend added that he was experiencing the same sort of challenge.
No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.
1 Corinthians 10:13 NIV
Other times, though, you might need to be the one to listen. This means that you don’t make fun of your friends when they share their heart. (Although making jokes is an easy “escape hatch” for us guys, we need to know when to rein it in). It may also mean asking some serious questions of your buddies, to give them the chance to off-load some of their burdens, and to give them the assurance that they can trust you to keep what they say in confidence.
The way of fools seems right to them,
but the wise listen to advice.
Proverbs 12:15 NIV
Then, for another great image of guys doing what it takes to help out another man (and their nation), see Exodus 17:8-13.
This devotion originally appeared at the website of First Christian Church, Canton, OH, as a Study Guide for the February 14, 2016 message, “Be A Man!”. Re-shared here by permission.
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