When I was a kid, the best part of the weekends was playing with my siblings. We did so much together. We created and explored, and we learned from each other. We built pirate ships when and when we weren’t slaying dragons we learned to shoot our homemade bows and arrows.
As men, we need others around us, a group we belong to, a company to succeed with, fight beside and share burdens. As men, it’s hard to know how to connect and stay connected with other men. We often think that independence makes us stronger, but in reality, it makes us targets for temptation.
Here are three steps we can all take to connect, grow and change. So that relationships can flourish.
Step 1. Be a friend.
I’m pretty sure my mom first told me that I needed to be a friend if I wanted a friend.
It was good advice. I’m glad I finally learned to apply it. Being a friend means reaching out, which is both time-consuming and risky, but I believe it’s worth it.
It takes courage to put yourself out there, and even for those who are naturally good at introducing themselves, choosing to leave your agenda and just being open to whatever comes is difficult.
As a man, I have learned that those who have become the iron I was sharpened against (see Proverbs 27:17) were those men who I intentionally invited or who I was intentionally invited to share in a personal relationship.
I’ve had a small group of men I’ve called friends a few different times in my life that helped me grow, and they became brothers to me. I feel the most growth came because we were purposeful in developing together as men.
People come and go even in those groups, but then just reach out again and see who needs friendship, and perhaps find others who are searching too.
Step 2. Do Something Together.
Once we have some personal connections around us, they will need some support. It gives acquaintances a place to become friends. I have learned from a few sources, experience being one, that we men do better when we’re doing stuff together – building something, breaking something, learning something, even shooting something as long as it’s together.
I recently got into guns and hunting. It’s never been part of my life, but my oldest son, who’s almost ten, has been wanting to get into it, so I got my gun license myself, so that I may be able to teach him.
Little did I know that many of the men I know who are hunters are also passionate about bringing others along to learn about guns and hunting.
I found myself welcomed into a club I didn’t know existed. In one month, I went from knowing very little about firearms to shooting different guns and even duck hunting! I had a blast; no pun intended.
I was learning a new skill and it helped some relationships bloom into greater and more meaningful friendships.
If we are only connecting with others who are just like us, we are missing out on many great friendships but also more importantly, we are missing out on being sharpened into the men Jesus made us to be.
Step 3. Don’t be afraid to lead.
Nowhere have I read in the Bible that we need a title to lead others. You don’t have to be a pastor or a ministry leader to invite other men into your life to grow with them and build into each other.
You don’t need to go to school to create a culture where men feel empowered and free to fail. All you need to do is be willing to try and fail and then try it again.
Leadership means going first, not being the best.
You go first enough, and you will find others following you. It’s that simple.
Having reached out and gotten out of your comfort zone, it’s important to start moving toward something that’s leading others. A big reason men are not stronger today is that we aren’t leading each other and empowering each other.
What areas are the men around you struggling with? Are they connecting and growing in their relationship with Jesus? Are they faith-filled husbands and inspiring fathers? Are they finding a purpose to live and freedom from sin?
I believe that every man can lead, and when we do, we break the chains of other men who may be afraid to step out.