Before full time ministry, my life consisted of driving a tractor trailer over-the-road for 21 years – about 2 million miles.
After transitioning to full time ministry, I worked a quarter mile from my house – I was home every night – home for most lunches – and I loved it!
Almost immediately, the need to drive something surfaced... and the number on my bathroom scale began to grow - not cool. So I took up cycling, and put ten thousand miles on my first bike.
While in church ministry, I had a lovely window in my office from which I could see this awesome local farm truck go by – sometimes multiple times per day – just to torment me, I assumed. I hadn’t driven in 14 years and now there was this.
Wow, I thought, would I love to drive that truck – just once – or maybe twice.
My God has, at times, a surprising sense of humor and before I knew it, through a series of unlikely events, I was driving the truck – part time – one or two days a week.
If you sense a theme here at all it should be – this guy loves to be on the move. I wasn’t built to “shelter in place.” I mean, what even is that?
I was made for this:
So, I’m finding this to be a struggle. And maybe you are, too. I feel like most men aren’t built for this – maybe for different reasons – but still.
Most of us were made to FIX things. And we just. Can't. Fix. This.
So, this needs to be a time of careful introspection – and maybe recalibration – because as I understand it, this is going to continue for quite a while. If you’re like many men I’ve been speaking to, here are some of the things you may be experiencing:
Loss of control.
In reality control is always an illusion, but on most days, it feels like we can handle our life – maybe not so much anymore.
Around many things – loss of job – loss of retirement, security, benefits, maybe even your home.
Work isn’t slowing down and you are forced to work from home alone – or with a bunch of other people you don’t usually work with (you may recognize these people as your family) or perhaps you feel exposed to the virus because you are still going somewhere to work that doesn’t feel safe.
Borrowing sorrow from tomorrow... A million what ifs???
The go-to emotion for so many men – there’s always an underlying issue.
A sense of despair – or sadness. You can only see bad endings.
Just to name a few.
There may be many other emotions and sensations you're experiencing as a result of this extreme and sudden life change.
So here is my question – who are you traveling with these days? You shouldn’t try weathering this storm on your own. Whatever else we are built for, we are built to travel with a team.
Yes, you may have your family and maybe your boss – who you speak to regularly, but who do you have as a team of guys around you?
If you’re a fire team, who are your other three guys? If you’re Batman, who is your Robin? If you're the Lone Ranger (you're not - really) who is your Tonto?
Statistically, most men have no close friends – you know, guys you could call in the middle of the night who would be there for you – no matter what you’ve done.
The Apostle Paul had Barnabas and Timothy, Jesus had twelve and within the twelve, an inner three.
The point is this, there are about 59 “one-another” passages in the Bible – more than enough to remind us that we need a few guys to help us navigate this life.
Solomon warns us of the dangers of being alone – without help.
Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble. Likewise, two people lying close together can keep each other warm. But how can one be warm alone? A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken. Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 (NLT)
So – who are you traveling with? If no one, what can you do?
Stay in touch with a few guys who know you well. Guys with whom you can be completely honest. Men need the company of other men in order to thrive. It has been said that no man can reach his potential alone – we need a tribe.
My recommendation: Get a friend you can be honest with – someone you aren’t trying to outdo or be richer, stronger or more handsome than – someone you can call and say, “I’m really struggling during this time.” You might have to make the first step to find someone but I guarantee that your search will be worth it.
Get into a men’s Bible study – if you don’t know of one, maybe start one. You don’t have to be a Bible scholar – there are tons of study helps out there. I am in an early morning Bible study with about eight other guys and it has become one of the highlights of my week, especially during this time. The Area Directors for Priority One meet once a week on video just to stay in touch – its more important now than ever.
By now, you may be saying – helloooo – I’m stuck at home, how do I do any of this?
There’s no question this is a hundred times easier when we aren’t "sheltering in place" because this connection would normally begin by asking another guy to meet with you informally for coffee, just to see if this might be a friendship worth developing.
But these are unusual times... so here’s the best advice I can give you in the current circumstances: Call your church and ask if they have anyone leading up men’s ministry. If so, get their name and give them a call – ask if there are any small groups for men only that you could join - even if they're virtual for now. This is not a slam on couples small groups, but practically speaking, men grow in the company of other men.
The difficult part of this is that you will have to initiate this call. No one knows you are trapped at home and suffering, but this connection with other guys is really important. Many men simply won’t take the initiative to reach out in this way, but you aren’t just any man – you are looking to take leadership steps in this time of crisis, so take a deep breath and call the church.
If you don’t have a church, think of a guy you know and respect and call him – ask him to point you in the right direction. Every Christian man would welcome a call like that, any day.
For those of us who truly weren’t built for this, these times with other guys can be a lifesaver. I don't expect to grow to love this whole “sheltering at home” thing, but with some guys around (even if only virtually), it won’t take me out, either.
If things get too bad, or you are truly suffering with depression/anxiety or any other issues that you don’t feel comfortable talking with another guy about, call a counselor or a pastor. Even during this time, we’re available – I have moved to video counseling (which I thought wouldn’t be that great, but has actually been a good thing).
Do whatever you have to do during this time to stay strong, stay sane and lead well. We are here to help and you can find my contact info on this website. Just don’t go it alone.
Iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another. Proverbs 27:17
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