Men are struggling with connection now more than ever.
The internet, social media, and remote work is taking its toll on masculinity. Now more than ever men need brothers around them to grow in their Christian walk. The Bible reminds us that iron sharpens iron but here’s the question to consider – are YOU strong enough to sharpen iron. Depending on where you are in your walk impacts how you answer that question.
Here are 3 steps to build a stronger group of men around you that you will need in the battle to be the Christian leader you are predestined to be.
Step 1: Find your “Paul”
The reference here is to the apostle Paul. As you look at scripture Paul had many life experiences that led him to being the great apostle he was and writing so much of the New Testament. He was able to give instructions spiritually and life in general because of the different areas that he grew from personally. So, as you look for a “Paul” as part of your men’s group you want to look for those that have walked their own path and have experiences to share. These men should be active in the church/ministry, and they show the fruit of the spirit in their walk. How they serve others, the type of marriage they have, and their professional success are all leading indicators that aid in identifying these men.
What does your “Paul” look like?
With more life experience, your “Paul” will likely be 1.5 to 2 times older than you. While this isn’t a hard-set rule it serves as a good guideline and test point for your evaluation. You are looking for real world experience and there are no shortcuts here. As the Bible says with grey hair comes wisdom (Proverbs 16:31). Now this doesn’t mean if they don’t have grey hair, they are ruled out, but it does speak to the experience level you need to provide wise counsel. So many of life’s lessons cannot be learned until they are walked out individually. Having this experienced man will lead to extremely wise counsel as they have actual real-world examples to refer to versus theory.
Where do you find your “Paul”?
It could be a relationship you seek out to initiate or it may be one that God drops in your lap unexpectedly. They could be in your church or even your family. Some men are blessed to have a strong spiritual leader in their earthly father, and they can serve as their “Paul” to aid their walk. A final place to consider is in your career profession. This is harder to identify, and the same criteria should apply. Do you see the fruit in their walk and does the possibility exist to engage with him on a personal level? As a note of caution beware of trying to make a direct supervisor a “Paul” as that dynamic could be tricky to navigate. Also, do not seek any direct reports for this role.
One area to consider could be spiritual mentors that you haven’t met in person. With the ever-connected world we live in there may be “Paul’s” that you could access via videos, podcasts, websites and other resources. For instance, there are two resources in my life that I feel help me grow as a Christian man every week and I categorize as “Paul’s” in my life.
- One would be Al, Jase, and Phil Robertson from the “Unashamed” podcast. Each week they provide practical biblical teaching and find ways to connect so much of God’s Word to areas of life.
- Another “Paul” that helps me grow in my Christian walk is Pastor Joby Martin from The Church of Eleven22. Every week his sermons introduce new concepts and ideas into how the God’s Word could impact my life. Personally, Pastor Joby has a way of connecting with me through his style and it is very relatable.
While these two may not resonate with you, be open to the idea that with the advancement of technology there does exists an opportunity for you to grow from a “Paul” digitally.
Step 2: Find your “Barnabas”
The reference here is to Barnabas who was in the New Testament. Barnabas means “Son of Encouragement” and that is a good indicator as to what you should be looking for in this man. Barnabas was often accompanying Paul and simply doing life together. He was an advocate and a true friend that stood up for Paul even when others opposed him. Quite often he would be the iron that sharpens iron which is what we all need in our lives. These are rare attributes to find; however, when you do it will add a whole new level of strength to your men’s group.
What does your “Barnabas” look like?
As you search for your “Barnabas” keep in mind that they typically will be in the same age range as you. This is not a hard-set rule but if you think about it those that you do life with most likely will have similar dynamics that create natural opportunities to build relationships. You will likely find yourself having family calendars line up (either by kid’s sports, spiritual events or common interests) and you’ll have more interaction with them on a consistent basis than your “Paul’s”.
Another attribute that you should be searching for is someone that is not a “yes” man. While encouragement is important, the last thing men need is someone saying yes for yes’s sake. We have found ourselves surrounded by these individuals in today’s society and that is one of the greatest attacks on masculinity as we know it. As you strive for a strong men’s group you need those that want to help you grow in your walk and often that means challenging your thinking. If they never feel comfortable enough to speak truth or you’ve never seen them question the status quo that could be a flag to keep searching.
Where do you find your “Barnabas”?
As with your “Paul” these men can be found in similar places (church, family, work). However, the pool of candidates does expand quite a bit as the criteria is more open to your personal demographics. While this is encouraging make sure you keep the rose-colored glasses in the case. Too often we only get surface level relationships and never truly know the heart of others. To understand who they are as a person will take time, open conversation, and vulnerability. In order for them to share, you must be willing to share yourself. Not every man will be receptive to this but when you find it there is an amazing opportunity to grow an amazing group of men.
Step 3: Find your “Timothy”
Now that you have your “Paul” to learn from, a “Barnabas” to do life with, the final component of a strong men’s group would be having a “Timothy” to be able to pass along your knowledge to. The relationship Paul had with Timothy in scripture is often viewed as a mentor or father/son dynamic. Why do you want this as part of your group? Simply because we do not have enough strong Christian men stepping up and helping future generations realize what it takes to be a Godly man. There are opportunities to help “Timothy’s” everywhere, you just need to look.
What does your “Timothy” look like?
As the epidemic of fatherlessness rages on there is a whole slew of young men that desperately need wise counsel from a Lion like you. Connecting with these young men will take intentional acts on your part. Some organic ways to find these opportunities could be from sports teams/recreation leagues that you support to ministry you are involved with at your local church. The primary quality you are looking for is someone who you connect with, and you can build a relationship. As a rule of thumb your “Timothy’s” will be younger and these bonds can often last a lifetime.
Where do you find your “Timothy”?
Here are a few tips to keep in mind as you begin to build your relationship with your “Timothy”. First of all, you need to learn what they enjoy and seek ways you can connect with them where they are at. Remember, this man is not as far along in their walk as you and there presents a huge window to influence them in a Godly way. Keep in mind that guys do not want to be preached to. If you find yourself never giving a chance for organic conversation to occur the relationship will struggle. One thing I’ve found helpful with my Timothy is to always have time of recreation when we get together out the gate. Shoulder to shoulder is where true bonds grow. We found that after burning some energy we are in a better frame of mind to talk about growing as a Christian.
I can already hear the excuses before you say them. “I don’t know enough of the Bible to mentor a ‘Timothy'”. Need I remind you that God does not call the qualified, He qualifies the called. Wherever you are in your Christian walk you are ready to serve others. These young men are not as concerned about your theology as they are your heart. People know when others truly care, and this is where the bond can grow by leaps and bounds. Set your insecurities, excuses and fears to the side and find a “Timothy” that you can make an impact on in their life.
There you have it, 3 ways to strengthen your men’s group.
The work doesn’t stop there. Your group will grow and evolve over time however if you stay committed to finding your Paul, Barnabas and Timothy rest assured your personal Lion’s Den will be stronger than ever. These three individuals each will challenge you in different ways and are important to strengthening your walk.
So, what is your homework? List out two men that fit each category and get to work. Stay committed to God’s Word and as your band of brothers grows you will be more poised than ever to be the leader you are predestined to be! For support getting started, consider joining the Lion’s Den for free!