“I feel closer to God right now than probably any other time in my life, yet I feel like a dismal failure in just about everything I am doing.”
I recently met with my accountability partner, who is also a youth worker in my area, and this was one of my first statements to him. His response: “me too!”
I have known him for several years, we have shared a lot with each other. At one point we even shared an office, although I can only remember one time that we were ever both working in it at the same time.
We have been official accountability partners for the past three or four years, and it always has amazed me how we seem to be dealing with the same things at the same time. We work in different churches. We have a completely different circle of friends. Our families know of each other but rarely ever get together. We have very similar outlooks on life and on ministry. These are all reasons why I feel so incredibly blessed to have him in my life and why our relationship is so valuable. There are two verses that perfectly summarize our friendship.
James 5:16 (NIV) Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.
Because very few things in our lives cross paths it creates a very safe place for us both to be completely honest. I trust him completely, and he doesn’t know the people I need to vent about. He can give me Godly advice and tell me the truth about myself. I know he prays for me, and that brings a lot of comfort and assurance into my life. He knows all of my biggest victories and biggest failures; other than God and my wife he probably knows the most about who I am.
Proverbs 27:17 (NIV) As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.
After we talk, I always feel refreshed. There is no area of our lives that is off limits in our conversations, so I feel like a better Christian, a better husband, a better dad, and a better youth worker than I did before we talked. Sometimes I talk the entire time, other times he does. We share struggles, and victories, frustrations, and praises. We pray for each other and part ways feeling “sharper”.
This world can be a lonely place (especially as a youth worker), and I hope you have at least a few “iron level people” in your life like I do. If you don’t, then start praying for God to lead you to one. This relationship did not happen by accident, it was purposefully pursued and kindled and built.
1. Pray for God to show you the right person.
2. Act on His leading and ask that person if they are interested in this kind of relationship.
3. Actually meet on a regular basis.
I hope you don’t feel like a dismal failure in all you are doing, but if (I mean when) you do I hope you have someone to confide in that will pray for you and help you to keep going. If you would like me to pray for you to find the right iron level person let me know on my prayer page or in the comments and I will pray with you!
As I continue my thoughts about this topic, I have to say that most of my life I have felt embarrassed when I cry. In fact, I have been putting off writing this post for days partly because of that embarrassment. Yet, as I think about what makes me cry I should feel honored, not embarrassed.
I cried when I was baptized.
I cried at my wedding.
I cried at the birth of all three of my boys.
I cried at my ordination service.
I have always said “the only 2 things that make me cry is my family and when God works.” As I think back to all the times I have cried (like the times listed above) and the times I have not cried (like when I felt the most intense physical pain of my life after my bike wreck) that statement really is true. My struggle and embarrassment about being a crier comes with how our world defines “a man.” The traditional world view is that men don’t cry, or feel emotions, or ever say I love you. A friend and speaker recently said “if your wife knows you will die for her submission is not a problem.” This statement really made me think, and truthfully challenged me. I tell my wife I love her every day, but does she know I will fight for her, even die for her and our boys? I hope she does because I would.
I disagree with the traditional world view of manhood.
I think real men cry about the right things. I think real men love their wives and kids so much they will die for them and actually tell them that. I think real men lead by example. I think real men invite accountability. I think real men find a balance between discipline and love. I think real men are strong enough to be the Spiritual leaders of their households. I think real men work hard, play hard, and love even harder.
I love it when I see other guys striving to be real men. This past week I had a former student from our youth ministry, who is now married, call and ask to use me as an accountability partner in the X3 program he was putting on his computer. He was nervous and embarrassed, but I am proud of him for stepping up. I was also proud to tell him I have the same accountability software on my computer, and have my report emailed to my wife so she never questions my online activity.
If you need help with online accountability go here and get the free program from XXX Church.
Are you a real man? Are you striving to be one like I am? I hope so because our world seems to be short on them. From my own boys, to the guys in my youth ministry and church, they need to see a lot of good examples of real men. So do the guys in your world. Whether you are a crier or not, you can be a real man with God’s help and grace.
I saw a great movie this last weekend with my wife. You most likely have heard about Courageous, if you haven’t you should. Here is the official movie website: http://www.courageousthemovie.com/
Seeing that movie, and the message it screams loud and clear, has pushed me to write this post. Truthfully this post has been on my heart for a long time but I have been putting it off, mainly because it hits so close to my heart. It is close to my heart for several reasons:
1. I am a man
2. I am Dad to 3 boys
3. I am mentoring other men
4. I am in a place of authority over teenage guys as a youth worker
5. I love God with all my heart
6. Anyone who knows me fairly well has seen me cry
My struggle with this is based on what our society views as “manly”. Number five and six in the above list could have the phrase “un-manly” tagged on them. In a recent marketing campaign for a beer company they poke fun at un-manly things, which just drives home the fact that our society (and you) know what I am talking about.
I think our society has for the most part given men a free pass from being real men. It is OK for Dad’s to be disengaged with their kids if present at all. It is OK for men to engage in pornography and ignore their wives. It is OK for mothers to take the initiative and be the Spiritual leaders of our families. It is OK for men to ignore their emotions and never tell their wives or kids they love them. The more I read scripture, and get to know God better, the more every ounce of my being wants to scream IT IS NOT OK!!
As this has been stewing in my mind over the past few months I have heard and experienced a few things that just showed me more and more how true this is. While listening to the radio I heard this quote “men in our society are passionate about things that don’t matter and ignore the things that matter most.” One thing that I like, and a lot of men can be very passionate about is football. By living in Boise, ID and being a Boise State football fan I automatically get into the middle of “heated” conversations about the BCS and how we don’t belong and little kids tables and yada yada yada (Yawn) with anyone outside of the treasure valley.
A few months ago I was at a conference with a lot of youth workers from all over the nation. At dinner one night the conversation at the table turned to football, and once it did I started preparing myself for what was about to happen, and then it did happen. One of the other youth workers brought up the BCS and quickly became visually agitated about sitting at the table next to a BSU fan. From that moment his body language and the tone at the entire table shifted. Suddenly there was an invisible wedge between me and rest of the room, which lasted for days with this specific guy.
If you want to talk football then fine, I have no problem with you being passionate about your team. My problem is that this topic has NO eternal value, and yet it created tension between me and this other youth worker. I assume he is a good guy, and I am sure he loves God and loves students, but I don’t know for sure because he would not talk to me after that encounter. I don’t understand how something like football can hinder us being on the same team for God, and working together to further His kingdom among teenagers.
I have a lot more on my heart about this topic, and I have not even touched scripture, but it looks like I might need to make this a series of posts… Do you want to read more or should I just move on? Tell me what you think.