Some recent events in my life have gotten me to really think through the concept and significance of brotherhood.  How this benefits our life.  You can read accounts of this in the Bible and read about it in books written today by authors like John Eldridge.  It is something that each man needs.  I have decided I am going to begin a series on brotherhood.

Growing up I never experienced what it was like to have a close friend.  My time was spent alone and imagining what it must be like for those who got that.  It was easier for me to hide behind walls and put on masks.  I figured if no one other guys wanted me around I would have nothing to do with any of them. During college I got my first taste of what I had once dreamed of but long since given up on.  I met another guy with whom I connected.  Most of our time was spent hanging out and talking, we did life together.  While he was comfortable sharing about anything I chose to be more reserved, I was not able to fully invest in that relationship.

While my wife and I were dating I began leading a small group from our church.  We ended up spending 8 years together, we spend our time really doing life together – starting families, careers and deepening our walk with God.  Through this group I connected with 2 other men.  Although we overlapped in areas of leadership and ministry in church, through our small group we formed a brotherhood.  We walked through life together, sharing in our struggles as men, husbands and fathers as well as our pursuit of what it meant to be a Godly man.  Unfortunately, once again I held back in these relationships.  I was willing to go to a certain point with them, but then I shut it off.

While serving in leadership at this church God began stirring my heart and showing me there were men who like myself who needed other men in their lives.  He began developing a deep desire to speak into the lives of other men through my story and what I had experienced in life.  I was not quite ready to be at the place, but when an opportunity to step up and take on the leadership of Men’s Ministry, I stepped up.  Cautiously, optimistically and yet still holding back, my experiences in working with and leading those men during that time have changed my view of brotherhood forever.  Leaving that church and moving on provided me with great insight, I was about to have my world rocked once again.

The last church I attended is where God really mixed things up.  It was here I began to understand the concept of true brotherhood and what it looks like.  God began placing men in my life who were interested in getting to know me for who I really was.  Who wanted to hear my story, my struggles, my ambitions, desires and how and where God played out in all of this.   Brothers who were willing to remove any false pretenses and truly be apart of each other’s life.  The questions started getting asked – where was God in my life and how was he challenging? What was I doing to pursue him?  How was I living my life so that it was impacting the world?  These were men who could look at me and draw things out of me.  Who could tell I was holding back and needed to let it out.  It was these brothers that said, no matter what you have to share with me I am going to be there for you.  I will not reject you, instead I am going to love you and support you through whatever is going on.

That was my breaking point.  For the first time in my life I was able to share my heart.  I was able to remove all the masks, tear down the walls and let all of it out.  Allow them to see me for who I really was.  It was a game changer for me.  The things I had held in for so long and was sure would be every reason why no one would ever want to be around me were the things that these men listened to, cried and when it was done, hugged me, told me I was loved and they weren’t going anywhere.  Here again God used these men to shape and form what brotherhood should look like.

As a result of those events, I was able to make a couple of phone calls to the guys from my first small group, first asking for forgiveness for not being real and honest and holding back and then being able to share with them the things I had never shared before – my real struggles.  Again after sharing and talking with them, they didn’t reject me, instead they reassured me of how much they loved and respected me as a friend and brother.  Even to this day, while we don’t live in the same city any longer, we have been able to maintain a bond that has kept up close.

As God has continued to shape and change me, I have learned there are things I need in my life to be the man God has called me to be.  I need other brothers in my life.  Brothers, who are willing to really do life together, go the distance.  Be there when I need to talk.  Listen, give wise counsel and pray with me.  Brothers, who share in my joys and struggles, encourage and challenge me when I need it.  Brothers who call me out when I am full of it and defend me when the enemy comes.  Brothers who love and respect me enough to tell me I am full of myself, crazy and remind me of truth.  Brothers, who are willing to hang out, eat food, drink, play games, go camping, hiking, play cards or games and just spend time being together. For I have experienced the joy of all of this and realize it is not only a blessing, but it is a necessity for me in my life.

What about you, have you experienced this in your life?  How has brotherhood played out in your life?

  1. jelillie says:

    I don’t know…there are a few men I have grown to trust on this deeper level but very few. I am involved in men’s groups but I have found that true brotherhood is something that is more organic than planned. It happens in the midst of planning but I don’t think it’s something you can just grab with anybody. I have found there has to be some kind of common ground right from the beginning. IS this what you have discovered as well?

    • That’s a good point. My experience has been that it is both. I have been in groups where it grew out of this but I have also been purposeful in talking to other guys to get a sense of where they are and asking them if they would be interested in pursuing this with me. For those that were, we established the guidelines and moved in that direction.

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