Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Men, Mentors and Mentoring.

(Sorry ladies, today's post is for the men. But, if you have a husband, brother, cousin, friend, co-worker or random stranger in your life that's of the male persuasion, feel free to pass a link to this post on to them.)

Author John Eldredge, in his book Wild at Heart and the sequel Way of the Wild Heart, details the direct link between a man’s ability to flourish and how he is mentored and mentors other men.

To put it simply, God wired men to learn from one another. The need for that experience has passed down from Adam to Seth all the way to King David down to Joseph, Paul, you and me.

The bible is full of scripture passages to back this up.

1 Peter 5:8-9 Be self controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings.

Notice how Peter links our resistance to the evil one and a relationship with our brothers? It’s simple proof that God never designed a single man to go it alone. No, he designed each of us to learn from one another, to gain knowledge and wisdom passed down to us from older men and in turn, to pass it on to those younger or less experienced than ourselves.

I have an awesome Father-in-law. He’s one of the major blessings in my life. On more than one occasion he and I have discussed how the loss of America’s World War II generation has hurt this country.

Why is that?

First off, the vast knowledge of men who knew how to be men is slipping away with each passing life. As the last of those brave men move on to walk with our Lord, their life experiences, knowledge and wisdom goes with them. In some cases, as with my Father-in-law’s dad, some of that mental wealth is preserved by passing it down to a son, nephew or other younger men. However, a lot more of it is lost.

Secondly, as the younger generations turn their backs on the older ones, becoming more hard-wired to the internet, video games, TV, movies and other disposable, vapid experiences they simply fail to accept the knowledge offered to them by their fathers, uncles and grandfathers. In many cases this results in an epidemic of overgrown boys, who never learned how to be men simply sloughing through life pretending to be what they know down inside they aren’t.

I was that overgrown boy well into my 30s, thanks in part to an absentee father, Grandfather who passed on before I hit puberty and an emotionally unavailable step-father. The other part of that was my own “I can take care of myself” attitude that flew in the face of how God designs men. I thought I knew best and I didn’t need anyone else to tell me otherwise.

Thankfully, my good friend Rob opened the door for me to peek inside his life of faith and once I was curious enough to investigate for myself, my aforementioned Father-in-law took Angie and I to church for Christmas where we discovered God’s love for us.

I knew something was missing from my life, and it was God and His plan for me, which included fellowship with other men. Now, thankfully, I’ve been a part of many men’s groups, a great one-on-one discipling with my good friend Eddie, and as of last night, a new mentorship program with a “Leader of Leaders” named Tom.

If you try to go it alone, as I did, your cup will run dry, every time. For, God designed men to fill their cups with the spirit of older, wiser men and in turn use that fulfillment to pour into the cups of men younger than themselves.

We’re all called to lead our families, pour into our wives and children and witness to others as sons of the Almighty God, but we can’t do that if we let our spiritual selves fall into disrepair as we go it alone in some macho/testosterone driven lie. Our souls need fellowship with other men like our bodies need food. Don’t wait until you're spiritually anorexic before you take action.

Action Steps: If you’re not part of a men’s group, join one now. If you have the chance to do one-to-one discipling or a mentorship program do it, whether you’re the older or younger man doesn’t really matter, but having it flowing into you from above so it can pour out below is best.

If you have no men in your immediate sphere of influence, follow Tony Dungy’s lead and find a remote mentor, by reading books authored by solid Christian men such as Dungy, Eldredge, Max Lucado and others.

Other resources:

All Pro Dad
Ransomed Heart Ministries
Team Discipleship
Promise Keepers

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