Why Isolation Does Not Equal Strength

As a young man growing up, I had great role models to guide me. Perhaps none was greater than my grandfather who continues to be a source of infinite wisdom and insight for me to turn to at any moment. However, like all men, he is fallible, and he once advised me to “never ask for directions—it’s a sign of weakness.” Telling this to an 8-year-old boy instilled in me a drive to never rely on anyone for help because as a “man,” I can figure it out on my own and “I don’t need help.”

Sadly, it wasn’t until much later in life that I learned the truth—that my all-knowing grandfather was actually wrong on this one. When I hit my early 20s, married with two kids, enrolled in seminary with a full-time job, I found myself under a lot of pressure with no one to turn to because, “I’m a man, and I’ll figure it out on my own.” Ultimately, it took another strong man in my life to sit me down and help me realize the truth of Ecclesiastes 4:9-12. This man has stood by me through a lot of ups and quite a few downs in my life, and so I know first-hand that no greater words can be spoken than these: “Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if (and when) they fall, one will lift up his fellow.”

I truly believe that so many men have convinced themselves that the best way to deal with life is to isolate themselves and try to “fix” their problems on their own. Sadly, this is a lie the Devil feeds us to keep us from being blessed by the lives of other men. Perhaps even more damaging, it prevents us from being a blessing to others in our own lives.

Husbands keep their emotions bottled up inside instead of sharing with their wives. Friends talk fantasy football and politics, but rarely let another man know what they are feeling in their soul. Satan is the only one who wins in this scenario because his goal is to keep us isolated. God, though, calls us to lean on each other, to sharpen one another, to spur one another on to love, to be in relationship with each other, and to love one another as Christ loved. This is God’s desire for all of us, and to choose otherwise is, at best, to be disobedient and at worst, to walk outside the will of God.

God is truly a good Father and would never ask anything of His kids that isn’t for our benefit. If we believe this to be true, how could we not long to surround ourselves with one or two great men to lean on and to encourage?

Men, let me appeal to your pride for a moment. Think of all you have to offer others—wisdom, encouragement, counsel, and countless recommendations on how to “fix” things. Why withhold that from the Body of Christ? Why keep that to yourself? Perhaps the greatest thing we could commit to in 2018 is to search out one or two other men who we will intentionally choose to invest our lives in and allow them to dive into our own lives as well. And let me warn you on the front end that this will come with some risk and cost.

To get beyond football and socially-acceptable small talk, you will need to be vulnerable and honest. You will need to do what some of you have spent a lifetime avoiding—letting another man know that you don’t have it all “figured out.” But in that moment, you’ll realize what I did as a young 20-something—God has given us the Body of Christ to lean into and find someone there to pick us up when we fall.

Community may be the millennial buzzword of the year, but it’s been a part of God’s plan since the beginning. Just think of page two of your Bible where God looked at lonely Adam and said, “It’s not good for man to be alone.” God provided every beast of the field and finally Eve for Adam, and the statement still rings true for all of us—“It’s not good for man to be alone.”

Men—we need each other! And when we finally realize that, God has the ultimate joy of watching His kids live in His will and lean on each other for help. I only have three men in my life who I share this connection with. Even with just us three, it takes work to stay connected. But I can tell you right now that if I fall, no matter when or how hard, these men will be there to lift me up. It’s not a sign of weakness, but rather a sign of strength in the Body of Christ. Truly, there might be no greater goal in this new year than for some of us men to look for another to lean on when we fall.

Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! -Ecclesiastes 4:9-10

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