Who Are The Men in Your Life?

We are already in the sixth month of this year?  It seems like yesterday, as a young Junior High student, I was counting the years to the new millennium.  It seemed like a long time before the millennium back then.  I even wondered if I would even see that magical year.  Now, here we are into the 21st year of that new millennium, and I am now counting the years till my 100th birthday.  I don’t know if the Lord will allow me to see that, but I do know that no matter how old you are, we need other men in our lives.

Men, by nature, are isolationists. Some of you may be thinking as you read that, “I disagree with that.  I like hanging around with other men.  I mean, I hunt with other men, go fishing, attend ballgames… man, I am even involved with the Men’s Ministry in my church.  I am not an isolationist.” 

That may be true, but what I mean by being an isolationist is that we like to keep things to ourselves.  We don’t wear our feelings on our sleeves.  We don’t share our struggles with other men.  Because we are strong men.  We don’t want to seem weak.  I don’t want people – especially other men – to know that I struggle with life. 

Well, join the club, we all struggle with life rather we want to admit it or not.  Ecclesiastes 4:9 tells us, “Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor” (NASB).  Verse ten tells us, “For if either of them falls, the one will lift up his companion.”  Then verse 10 continues providing a warning to us about not having someone there to pick us up, “But woe to the one who falls when there is not another to lift him up.” 

The scripture truth here is that every man needs another man in his life regardless of who he is.  A man that can pick him up when he falls.  A man that can encourage him during his struggles.  A man that can be a sounding board, a counselor, a mentor.

Many years ago, I was told that I need three types of men in my life.  That has stuck with me.  As I get older, I see the wisdom in this and why God gave Solomon the wisdom to write the encouragement in scriptures for a man to have another man to walk beside him.  What are those types of men?  They all come from scripture.  Their names are synonymously associated with what they are to be to a man: Paul, Barnabas. and Timothy.

Zig Ziglar used to tell a story about how Belgian horses are trained to work together—and how it made these incredible animals so much more effective.  Belgian horses are huge, powerful animals.  In fact, one Belgian can pull more than 8,000 pounds.

The weird thing, though, is that if you put two Belgian horses together, they don’t just double the amount they can pull; they triple it to 24,000 pounds.  And if you spend some time training them to work together, that unified pair can pull a whopping 32,000 pounds.  That’s four times what a single horse can do alone!

The story reminds me that connections are powerful—and not just for Belgian horsesMen need healthy relationships to win at life, too.  Five years from now you will be the same person you are today except for the books you read and the people you meet.  In other words, we need the accountability and support that come when others invest in our lives.

I’ve heard leadership and relationship coaches say that everyone needs a teacher, a student and a friend.  As Christians, that is where we might tweak it just a little bit to say that everyone needs a Paul, a Timothy and a Barnabas.

Your “Paul” is the mentor who pours his life and wisdom into your life, while your “Timothy” receives the same blessing from you.  I enjoy sitting at the feet of people who are further along the journey than I am, and I’ve had some influential mentors through the years.  I have developed a desire to pour my life into someone else which encourages me.  But one of the best decisions I’ve ever made is to surround myself with an incredible group of “Barnabas” friends.

On the first Thursday of the month I meet with about eight other men for breakfast at 8am for about 90 minutes investing in one another.   We talk about our struggles together.  We study Scripture together. We read books together.  Basically, we’ve done life together for more than a decade.

I’ll be honest. I get a lot of criticism and crazy hate mail, but most of it doesn’t faze me a bit.  Those people really don’t know anything about me!  But if a member of my Group calls me out on something, I take it very seriously.  Their words carry almost as much weight as my wife’s words.  Why?  Because they’ve invested in me, and they’ve earned the right to speak into my life.

God works through each of the relationships in our lives.  He uses a Paul to guide us. He uses a Timothy to help us mature.  And He uses a Barnabas to challenge us.  In response, we should always be learning, teaching and loving.

So, who are the men in your life?

Together in the challenge and adventure to disciple men – Mike.

Don’t Forfeit the Summer!

The weather is getting warmer. The trees are in full bloom. People are ready to get out after being shut up in their houses for the winter months. Vacations are planned. And many churches suspend their ministries to men. Sounds like a typical late spring pattern.  And as we approach the summer months, many churches will suspend their ministry to men during the summer months.

I want to encourage you, do not forfeit the summer months. This is an opportunity for you to really pour into the lives of your men.

Yes, there will be men traveling, taking their families on vacation, and it is a good time for them to get away for a while with their families, and they should get away with their families. But many men will not be traveling.  Many will be staying at home.

But suspending the ministry to men during the summer months may set men up to get involved in areas they should not be. There will not be anything to encourage your men. Some men may be involved in weekly discipleship groups, but what about the men who are not.

So if you are doing monthly breakfasts, continue your monthly breakfasts. If you are doing a Bible study, continue your Bible study. Plan a big outing, maybe a tailgate party, plan a trip to a ballgame. Do a Father – Son outing. Do something. Plan activities through the summer months. Keep your men engage.

I have seen a lot times when churches suspend their ministry to men during the summer months they spend all of September and possibly into October trying to get their men engaged again. They even lose some of their men while the ministry is suspended never to be seen again.

Think seriously about suspending your ministry to men during the summer months. Continue the ministry. Don’t stop! Pour into your men’s lives. Don’t forfeit the summer months. God doesn’t stop His work during the summer months. God doesn’t stop doing things because it is summer.

This is an excellent time to reach men through many summer activities. Do not forfeit the summer to reach the men of the church and community.

Continue ministering to your men during the summer months.

To the challenge and adventure to disciple men – Mike

Do Not Forfeit Father’s Day

Do you realize that we are about a month from Father’s Day? Because of this, I want to ask Men’s Ministry Leaders and Pastors this question, “What are you planning to do to target your men on Father’s Day?”  I know not all men are Dads, but a good number are.  And all of us have Dads.  

Father’s Day is a great day to reach out to all the men of the church and community.  So, I have a statement for you – Do Not Forfeit Father’s Day!

As a Men’s Ministry Leader, I believe this day is a great day to target our men, and we should take advantage of the day.  

To give you a little history about Father’s Day, it began when Sonora Smart Dodd in Spokane, Washington, who were one of six children raised by a widower, had an idea of having a day to celebrate our Fathers while sitting in church on Mother’s Day.  She went to local churches, the YMCA, and others to gather support for her idea. As a result, on June 19, 1910, Washington State celebrated the nation’s first statewide Father’s Day.  Though Father’s Day has become a commercial entity in today’s culture, it does have its roots in the church.

If we are going to use Father’s Day to reach out to the men of our church and community, we need to start planning now.

Several years ago, when I was a Men’s Ministry Leader in a local church, we gave out books to ALL the men who came on campus that day.  It was a book for all men, not just for dads.  We also invited the men to attend a six-week study of the book that would begin a couple of weeks after Father’s Day.  We had over 30 men take advantage of that opportunity.  As a result, we had several success stories from that book giveaway and study. 

One was a man who took the book to work and met with some of his coworkers to work through the book.  Great things came out of that experience. And, after finishing the book, the men wanted more.

This is just one activity you can do to reach your men through Father’s Day.  But there are others, and here are some thoughts of some actions you can take.  It is my hope this will whet your appetite for more.  As you ponder on these, maybe you can vision other activities your church can do.

  1. If the morning message is delivered as a result of Father’s Day, be sure it targets ALL the men encouraging them to be the men that God designed them to be.  This is one most churches do.  But be sure you talk to ALL the men and be careful of isolating a particular group.  But to be honest, I would recommend staying with the series topic you may be currently through. However, there is nothing wrong spending a few minutes communicating gratitude and thankfulness for dads to be dads.
  2. Have a Father/Son outing sometime during the weekend.  Men whose children are grown or men who do not have children could adopt a fatherless child for this event.  This way, you are inviting all men to participate.  If you have a military contingent in your area.  Think about the children whose dads are deployed during this time.
  3. Reach out to those men in your church and community in the military and are deployed.  Find out from their families what they would like to have and see if you can make it happen.  I have a friend who runs a ministry for military personnel called Operation Bandana. Check it out at Operation Bandanas.org as something you can do to speak into military personnel.
  4. Give the men a book that will encourage the men and offer a class relating to the book.
  5. Arrange an outing to a sporting event that all men can participate.  Or maybe a sports watch night in the fellowship hall or someone’s house on a big screen TV.

Here are some additional suggestions that may not be associated with Father’s Day weekend but can be done in conjunction with;

  • Reach out to Dads whose children are attending your local church’s VBS.  Maybe provide a gift certificate to a local restaurant or sports event or Fair they can take their child to.  Or maybe a father/child Hot Dog dinner.
  • If your church has a summer daycare ministry, think on the same lines for the men whose children are involved.
  • Think about the Dads whose children are involved in the youth ministry or other children’s ministry activities.

These are just a few of the ideas a church can do to reach out and target men.  If we desire to reach our men, we have to be intentional in our efforts.  Look around your church, and you may see many other opportunities to reach your men.

So, once again, ‘What are you doing to intentionally target your men during Father’s Day weekend?’  Intentionality is one of the areas most Men’s Ministries lack in their quest to reach men for the kingdom of Christ.  If you want to reach more men and get them involved, you must be intentional in your efforts. 

Just remember, on Father’s Day, don’t make it all about fathers but develop opportunities for ALL MEN!

To the challenge and adventure to disciple men – Mike