Struggling with Groups

Posted: 2011 12 01 by Chris Goforth in Authentic Man, Biblical manhood, Challenge, Discipleship, Hardcore Christian Men, manhood, masculine, masculinity, Ministry, Relationship

In the last couple of weeks I have head some deep heart to heart talks with other men.  A couple were close friends and one was someone I just connected with.  The conversations all moved to the topic of how men support one another or frankly how we do not.  How men in church look for groups to belong to, but often end up feeling alone, isolated or unable to connect with others.  Men who are struggling and looking for support can’t find it, even within the church body.

 

I have been part of and led groups of men for years both at church and as part of my job.  I’ve sat and listened to men pour out their struggles – drugs, alcohol, gambling, lust, pornography, affairs, same-sex attractions, control, abuse and countless other issues.  The list is exhaustive and yet when it comes down to it sin is sin.  Most of us have wounds or holes in our lives and we have chosen to fill them with harmful things.  We’ve chosen those things to attempt to medication ourselves.  Somehow those choices are easier to do than finding other brothers who can relate and support us.  We learn to wear masks, projecting an image that makes it seem we have our lives together, nothing could possibly be wrong.

 

Men are hurting, in pain and due to cultural stereotypes we are told to suck it up, act like a man and deal with it.  This kind of pervasive thought and ideology only makes it worse for us as men.  To really share what we are dealing with means we are weak and less as men.  As we battle our demons daily we battle it alone and Satan wins little by little and day by day.  The less we share, the more we isolate and we continue in our cycles of unhealthiness. It’s a perfect set up for Satan to destroy our very lives.

 

James5:15 Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.

 

I believe most men want to connect and feel like they belong.  Most of us want support and to know that someone has our back.  We can’t carry the weight of the world on our shoulders.  For men who are willing to acknowledge their struggles, who have put the time and effort into to look for something they believe will be helpful what they end up finding is a group of men who are not really wiling to being real and transparent.  They are scared to share; feeling they will risk being condemned or judgment.  The belief that what they deal with is different from others and no one can fully relate to their situation.

 

Guys I spoke to, shared with me they already knew what they was doing was wrong,  they weren’t looking for someone to tell them that or to try to fix it for them.  What they were seeking was other guys who they could be honest with, listen, identify with it, and support them as the walk through the process of healing and restoration.  Unfortunately these guys I were talking to have yet to find that and ended up leaving the group and for a few it meant leaving multiple groups.

 

In groups I have been part of their has always been a push to get guys to be real, honest and connect.  The format of the groups was designed so guys would call each other and check in during the week.  However, most of the guys I have been in groups with don’t put this into practice and as much as they are encouraged to do so, always fail to do this.  They come to the group and sit there and listen and share, but don’t really share what’s going on inside.  Once the group ends, they return to life as they always do, never reaching out and never hearing from anyone.  Deeper connections are not made and when the time comes where they are at war in their battle, they face the battle alone and in most cases lose.

 

When we struggle and fail Satan has won twice.  The battles we face, we end up facing alone because we don’t have men who are walking with us.  Sin separates us from God, causing us to withdraw and isolate.  Satan continues to win.  God created us to be in relationship with him as well as others.  When we don’t have that, it’s prime ground for Satan to take over and destroy us.

 

It’s time we as men create and offer environments that draw men in, encourage, support and all us to walk through life with one another.  We need other men in our lives who are willing to make the calls,  checking in on one another, encouraging one another and really living out what we say we this group is going to do. Really having their back and offer them something they have never experienced before.  No matter what sin issue they are dealing with, we can relate as we are a sinner in need of God just like them.  My hope is that men will find this and I won’t hear friends and other men telling me how difficult it is to find this.  It’s time we stood up as men and started changing it, we need to be the example, for those of us who know what it is like to want it and never get it, step up and lead a group.  Start your own, invite others in and begin living it out, because everywhere you look, there is a man out there struggling with something and he needs a brother to walk through life with.

 

Are you ready to change what we offer men?  

Comments
  1. Jason Wert says:

    Well said man. Way too many times we encourage men to be essentially isolated and that does no good for anyone.

  2. Brian says:

    Interesting that you included men with “same sex attractions” on your list above. This may be the stupidest of questions, as this is a site created by and devoted to Christian men, but does this mean that it is the view of the creators of this site that homosexuality is a choice, and a sin? Do you embrace the “Love the sinner, hate the sin” view? Obviously, you have the right to hold fast to anything you choose, so this is not an attempt to sway you in either direction. Nor am I in any way seeking to debate the issue or troll your site. I just want to be clear in my understanding with regards to your views on active, unashamed, homosexual men . . . are they welcome on this site?

    • Brian my belief is that anyone is welcome to check out this site and I am in no way going to stand in judgement against anyone. Regardless of what you believe or what you stand for, all people are welcome here and able to read and comment. As with anyone, I am not in a position to sit in judgement. I have sin in my own life as does everyone else, as part of this post, it is about welcoming men from all walks of life into the groups, listening, hearing what they have to say, encouraging them, praying with them and walking through life together. It is my hope men will find these types of environments and be able to live healthy lives and do what God has called them to do.

      • Brian says:

        Chris, here’s what I wonder, though . . . Someone comes to a group of Christian men and says, “I am a Christian, and I love God, and I’m gay.” Even if there is a part of them struggling to reconcile all that, and they are sincere in their desire to fellowship with fellow Christian men, their “sin” will nearly always be elevated to a level of sinfulness above greed or idolatry or other run of the mill sins. Those sins are easy to just brush under the rug that is the blood of Jesus. They aren’t really that big of a deal to most believers. Besides, one man’s idolatry is another man’s hobby, or passion, or even calling. But to be a homosexual? And to admit it? That somehow makes one “really” sinful, and they must turn or burn. It’s the whole strain a gnat thing, and is becoming the new litmus test for fellowship.

        Again, I’m not looking to start trouble. I’m not a troll. (Though I do have really big ears, but that’s beside the point . . . ) Once I was a very hardcore believer myself, and so much water has passed under the bridge since those days. We speak of wanting to push men toward God, to help them call a sin a sin, and to pray with them for more of God’s power. But how many times is that just so much staring down our spiritual noses at those we perceive as being “less than”?

      • Brian I hear what you are saying and actually I have dealt with this. At my last church I ran a group for this as some men had come forth and were requesting one. It was never my job to point out there sins or make absurd statements to them. They have heard that enough in their life. What I did do was always try and point them to Christ as the answer. I was not sitting in judgement of them, but truly accepting and loving them where they are at. While we did discuss scripture and what God word’s had to say, and I held true to my beliefs, which didn’t always line up with them. I again accepted them where they were at and allowed God to work on their hearts. I don’t believe any sin is greater than another. I have enough sin issues in my life to worry about. Again for me it comes back to really living out the truth of the Jesus and being an example of what is possible and it does not matter the issue. Jesus spoke the truth in love and hopefully I will always be able to do the same.

  3. brian ehite says:

    Great word this morning, Chris. Appreciate the challenge. If we delude ourselves with shallow relationships or community, we’re actually worse off than standing alone. At least alone, you know you are vulnerable. However, both are flawed.

    as men, we just need to put it out there, be real and trust the spirit. Ultimately, it’s God we’re putting our trust in, not the other men in our group. He just needs us to be obedient!

    • Good words Brian. I appreciate you sharing that. Hopefully as men place their ultimate trust in God they will also find other men who do the same and find places where they can do that with other men who have already done so as well. It is always my hope and prayer that being part of a group like that will always point towards God and not me, but through the dynamics of the group and the way I lead it allows men to find a group of guys they can trust and be transparent and find support they need.

  4. jelillie says:

    The issue you address has so many layers I don’t really know where to start. It’s a time issue. It’s a fear issue. It’s a trust issue. It’s a maturity issue. It’s a …Lord show us where to begin!

    • You are absolutely right. It is filled with many layers to address and after having those conversations with guys I know, it was my attempt to begin addressing it. Hopefully I can unpack a lot of it in future posts. Ultimately it is about having God show us where to begin. We need his direction and leading first and foremost and that has always been my prayer – lead me God and once that begins – following what he wants. Hopefully that is also the biggest part of any group for any men – pointing towards God.

  5. Kevin says:

    Thanks for the encouragement and I am thankful for the conviction I felt as I read this. It is true men rarely truly open up, I am guilty. When someone talks to me about being in a group or some form of counseling I instantly become defensive. In my past I had a few bad experiences where I was forced to go to counseling or participate in a group. Anger management, budget counseling, anxiety, and others. The list goes on a few places more. Most occurred while I was serving in the military. Everytime I was being seen by these counselors or psychiatrist they all said the same thing, nothing really was wrong with me and why did they say you had to come? So needless to say looking back I guess they felt thier hands were tied. I know some just didn’t want to take the time to invest in my life. I am thankful some men have taken the time to do so even though at times it can be difficult. I have come a long way since then by the grace of God but each day has challenges and always will until we become perfected in Christ, when we are called home. Just Kevin.

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