Encouraging Men to Walk Together

4/12/2021

Remember when you taught someone how to perform a task, and you would tell them, “This is not rocket science?”  Well, after working in men’s ministry, coordinating events for men, discipling men, facilitating men’s small groups, and meeting one of one with men, let me tell you – ministering to men IS ROCKET SCIENCE!  I don’t say that to discourage you but to let you know that I know the frustration many of you may have as you seek to get your men involved in the ministries designed to bring men into a deeper walk with Christ.

I was talking to someone a while back who had started a small group a few weeks earlier, and I could tell in his voice there was a little frustration.  This was the first time he had ever attempted to lead a group of men.  I encouraged him to just be obedient to the calling God had placed on his life and let God do the work.  Continue to pour his life into these men, praying for them and being there for them.  Even if only one man shows up, that would be who God would want you to share life with at that moment.  Paul said it best to the people of Thessalonica when he wrote in his second letter to the Thessalonians, “Being affectionately desirous of you, we were ready to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you had become very dear to us” (2 Thess. 2:8).

We often think we need to have a deep bible study when we get our men together, but sometimes we need just to do life and allow God to open the opportunities for us to share the gospel or a word of encouragement.  I meet with a group of men once a month to have breakfast just to talk and let them share what is happening in their life, getting to know them, and opening myself up to them, not having any agenda.  Another group I meet with once a week as we study through the disciplines of a godly man, all to develop relationships and impact the Gospel of Christ in each others’ lives by either just sharing life or speaking the Word directly into their lives.

When I first began to work in Men’s Ministry, I thought we had to have big events and get as many men to attend as possible.  I reasoned that if we had these events and could get men to attend, men’s lives would begin to change.  However, I quickly learned this is only a small piece of the puzzle.  There is nothing wrong with big events, and they do have a place; but, these events should be used to connect with men.  From these events, you should always be looking for ways to encourage men to take the next right  step; to become involved in a discipling relationship.

Working with men is all about developing those relationships for the purpose to disciple. Even putting yourself out there to share some of your life’s successes and failures.  Men need to see you as being just as fallible as they are.  They need to know you have overcome situations in your life, and your hope is rooted in your relationship with Christ.  When men see you as one of them, then they will begin to open up.  It doesn’t happen overnight – it takes time. 

Often we use Proverbs 27:17, “Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another” in our respective men’s ministries.  There is truth here, but the only way this can be applied in our lives is to spend time with other men who have a passion for growing deeper in a relationship with God.  We will permit other men to challenge us when they see us missing the mark, holding us accountable in our walk with Christ.  This can only occur if we are intentional about developing discipling relationships.

Let me encourage you if you do not have such a man in your life; find one.  You will be blessed to have that man who will challenge you, be a listening ear when you need to talk, and, more importantly, pray for you.  “Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.”  To have someone in your life that will sharpen you, knock off those rough edges and smooth the edge so you can be ready to fight the battle that lies before us every day.

There is a battle for men’s souls happening all around us.  And we need men who will stand shoulder to shoulder with us every day.  Will you be a man who will stand shoulder to shoulder with another man in this battle?  Will you pour your life into other men?  Do you want to change families in your church?  Do you want to change your church to be more of an impact on your community?  Then start by sharing life with other men – the Gospel of Christ – developing intentional relationships that will sharpen each of us to be the man God desires for us all.

Together in the adventure and challenge to disciple men,

Mike Sandlin

Being Intentional

Recently I was talking to a group of men about three areas every men’s ministry needs to work on to have an effective and vibrate ministry to men; Know Your Men, Create Multiple Entry Points, and Being Intentional.  One of the men asked me, “What do you mean by being intentional?”  Well, that is a great question.  Dictionary.com describes ‘intentional’ as something that is “done with intention or on purpose.”  But for me to help you understand what I mean by intentional I need to share with you some instances we see in the Bible that displays intention and from my own personal life.

First, let’s look at the Bible.  There are a few events that come to mind when I think of displays of intentionality in the Bible.  One is when Jesus was walking by the Sea of Galilee and he saw Simon (Peter) and his brother Andrew and he said to them “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men (Matt. 4:18-19).  Then Jesus encountered Matthew and said, “Follow me” (Mat. 9:9).  Then Jesus called James and his brother John (Mk 1:19-20).  Then later Jesus spent the night praying and as a result, he called 12 of his disciples and called them apostles to join him on the journey he was taking (Luk 6:12-16).  He called them by name, essentially ‘tapping them on the shoulder,’ and saying: “Follow Me.”  

Several times in the gospels we read of Jesus ‘tapping on the shoulder’ Peter, James, and John to accompany him on a certain task (Mat. 17:1; Mar. 5:37; Mar. 14:33; Luk 8:51).  Permitting only them to be a participant of an event.  Then the most obvious one is when Jesus personally appeared to Saul on the road to Damascus to question Saul why he was persecuting Him and ‘tap on the shoulder’.  He instructed Saul (Paul) to continue on his journey to Damascus and there he would be told what to do (Acts 1-6).

Each of these is displays of Jesus being intentional.  Essentially tapping individuals on the shoulder of those whom he wanted to pour his life into to prepare them for the ministry he was calling them to.

‘Tapping them on the shoulder’ is a metaphor of personally speaking to the individual about building a relationship around the concept of disciple-making or mentoring in the individual’s walk with God. 

By Jesus’ example, we can transfer that to the calling God has placed on all our lives to “Go … and make disciples.”  We too have to be intentional in our mission of making disciples.  They do not just come to us.  Some may approach us on their own but most will not.  So we must invite them on the journey just like Jesus did and is still doing.  I have experienced this in my own life.  I have been ‘Tapped on the shoulder’ and I have been the one who has ‘tapped others on the shoulder.’ Let me share a few.

Many years ago I was talking with a few people after church when Mr. Tommy walked up to me and asked me if I would be interested in attending a Bible study with a few men on Friday mornings at 5:00 am.  I accepted.  I attended that group for the next three years.  It radically changed my life.  I grew more in those three years than I had in all the years before since I became a Believer.  Through that experience, I gained a new perspective of what it meant to disciple someone else and I learned what Jesus meant when he commanded us to “Go… and make disciples.”

From this experience, I learned to apply Jesus’ method by praying on who I should disciple.  God led me to other men too who I reached out and ‘tapped them on the shoulder’ and personally asked them if they would be willing to meet with me to study God’s Word or work through a book that would help enhance spiritual growth.  Most of the men that have participated have shared with me how important this became to them.  All because I did what Jesus modeled by reaching out and being intentional to individuals He led me to in my relationship with them. 

So, what does it mean to be intentional?  It means inviting someone to take a journey with you to grow spiritually so they will understand what Jesus meant when he said: “Go… and make disciples.”

All of us are called and commanded to make disciples.  Begin praying today for God to lead you to those whom you can ‘Tap on the Shoulder’ and invite them on a journey to grow closer to God.  You will be blessed and discover many rewards in your own life when you do.

Together in the adventure and challenge to disciple men – Mike