As soon as David had finished talking with Saul, Jonathan’s life became bound up with David’s life, and Jonathan loved David as much as himself. – Samuel 18:1
THE HEADER: As you can see I’ve been playing with the “header image” for this blog. I tried several versions, including just me, me and Rebekah, the entire family including grandchildren, and then the photograph I finally settled on, which features the six of us – Rebekah and me, Andrew and Alicia, Naomi and Craig (photo-credit to Naomi Campbell).
The header will likely change after a while. But, for now, with all four of our wonderful children “Stateside” and accessible, this image represents my heart. And if you read this space much at all, then you will understand that my heart is pretty-much always front and center, splashed all over my writing.
FRIENDSHIP: Today’s post focuses on friendship, and how important it is for all of us to cultivate deep relationships with people we trust.
This is especially true for guys, as so many men compartmentalize life to the extent that they somehow manage to keep their actual selves neatly packaged and stored in a quiet, inaccessible place.
Studies on men and close friendships reveal – time and again – that men are essentially starving when it comes to intimacy.
“Of all people in America,” sociology professor Lisa Wade wrote for Salon Magazine, “adult, white, heterosexual men have the fewest friends. Moreover, the friendships they have, if they’re with other men, provide less emotional support and involve lower levels of self-disclosure and trust… When men get together, they’re more likely to do stuff than have a conversation” (American Men’s Hidden Crisis).
This is one of the reasons I pour so much of myself into men’s ministry initiatives at WFPC. Getting together with a small groups of 5-15 guys, sharing what is going on in our lives, talking about relevant Bible passages, praying for one-another – all these things are revolutionary in the day-to-day world of guy-dom.
To be honest, both the reason for the success of my first book and the reason it didn’t gain any significant momentum are exactly the same. It touched a nerve. GET REAL: a spiritual journey for men is a story about spiritual and interpersonal intimacy between men. It talks about exactly what we need to talk about as men… and at the same time it talks about what we’re afraid of talking about as men.
“Yes I really, really need this; but, no thank-you, I’ll pass…”
INITIATIVE: Here in Wake Forest I’m so committed to this idea that – in addition to the groups I lead – I’m several months into an initiative to share a conversational breakfast, lunch, or coffee meeting with as many of the men at WFPC as I can. Men need – desperately – to be in relationships with other men, friendships where they can talk about what is on their hearts. Not last night’s ball game, and not other “water-cooler” talk; but last weekend’s disturbing news, or the argument with their spouse, or trouble with their children, or the tears of happiness they shed holding their grandchild, or the ego hit they took at work, or the emptiness they feel in their soul, or the love they feel in their heart for Jesus but don’t know quite how to express.
My point is that I am being deliberate, intentional, about this. Friendships don’t just happen. It’s not like I see another guy across a crowded room and we both know in that moment we’re destined to be friends! We must choose this, and then we must act.
Listen up, guys. It’s great if you have an authentic, deep friendship with your spouse; I pray that it grows and strengthens – but that is not enough. If you don’t have a handful of men you can call, or meet with, just to talk honestly, then you are likely emotionally and spiritually impoverished.
We were imagined, planned, formed, crafted, and equipped by our Creator specifically for relationship. Relationship both with God and with one-another.
Food for thought; stuff to think about; an idea to pass around – DEREK