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 horses. Men 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.