This summer, we’re partnering with Barna Group, a leading Christian research organization, to explore timeless principles around manhood. In this article, we’re exploring men and relationships, and why it’s always a good idea for men to do life with other men.
We have an epidemic in our nation, and I’m not talking about COVID. This epidemic is a self-inflicted wound suffered by the vast majority of men across America. I call it the alone wound, and it happens when a man refuses to see manhood as it really is: a team sport.
In his book, Locking Arms, my good friend Stu Weber says it best:
Together. It’s one of the most powerful words in the English language. And geese know how to use it to full advantage. They seem to know instinctively that life is a team sport.
Wildlife biologists tell us that a flock of geese, by flying in a “V” formation, actually adds at least 71% more flying range than if each bird were flying on its own. As each bird flaps its wings, it actually creates an updraft for the bird immediately following. When the lead bird in the formation tires, it simply rotates back in the wing and another flies to the point.
The epidemic of the friendless American male that we have on our hands is a result of us forgetting that manhood is a team sport. Survey after survey tells us that most men today are lonely. They know a lot of people — but they’re not really known by anyone.
Not long ago Southern Methodist University did a study that showed that even the most intimate male friendships rarely approach the depth of disclosure women have with other women. Yes, the friendless American male is busy and successful, but he’s so lonely. So today, I want to give you four upsides of doing life with other men.
Upside #1: No more blind spots
Proverbs 14:12 says, “There is a way which seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.” Every man at some point thinks he’s got it figured out on his own. But the point of this Scripture is this: Alone, we can talk ourselves into pretty much anything.
You know that, don’t you? When you’re by yourself, it’s easy to reason your way into anything unless you have the challenge of others around you — other men who will help you balance your reality. Otherwise, you become blind to your own false and foolish behaviors… blind spots, as they’re called.
Occasionally, those blind spots might get so big that somebody gets the courage to tell you about it. But the truth is, blind spots are called blind spots because we can’t see them. I’m thankful we have two eyes, but it takes a lot more than that to see life as it really is.
Upside #2: Clean living
Proverbs 18:1 gives us this warning: “He who separates himself seeks his own desire, he quarrels against all sound wisdom.”
The animal kingdom teaches that when you get out of the herd, you’re in danger to all kinds of prey. Everyone who’s ever traveled for work knows this. When you’re all alone in another city, where no one knows you, you can’t feel the pull of evil within. You quickly start to reason, “I could do this… and nobody would ever know.” We all can feel that the moment we’re separated from the herd.
Upside #3: Your own personal cheering section
Every man needs other men who are his cheerleaders in life, particularly in areas that get little praise. All of us need other men who are cheering for us in the noble things of life. Sure, we pat each other on the back for the nice tee shot on the 14th hole or a promotion at work, but there are so many noble things nobody cheers for — like loving your wife, for example.
Years ago, I met a man at my church and was talking to him about how he could love his wife. I suggested that he write her a love poem, and because he was a burly construction worker I knew it’d be something that would force him way outside his comfort zone. About a month later, I saw him and he puffed out his chest and said, “I wrote my wife that poem.”
“Really? How’d it go?” I asked him. He told me with a smile on his face, “You wouldn’t believe it.”
We high-fived and hugged, and it was so great to see what happened in his marriage because he had someone who cheered him on in the noble things of life.
Upside #4: Being understood and supported
Everybody needs to be known because there’s nothing like having a friendship where you’re really understood — one in which you’ve never feel judged, only loved.
My heart breaks for the men in the world who walk around with the voice in their heads that says, “Nobody cares about me. Nobody really understands me. I’m all alone in this world.” After a while, that voice turns into what I call the three Ds: Discouragement, Depression, and Danger. That’s what the loss of transparency brings. And if you stay alone long enough, it becomes you against the world.
Read what Scripture says about the importance of being connected…
“Iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another” (Proverbs 27:17).
“A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity” (Proverbs 17:17).
One of the times of greatest shame in my life was when one of my close friends called me as he was going through a divorce. He lived a long way away, and he was weeping over the phone. I comforted him as best I could and hung up the phone, but I didn’t go see him… and I’ll always regret it. Because a brother is born for adversity.
Let me ask you today, are you doing life alone? If so, I want to challenge you to take a look at the men around you and think about the guys who are doing life well. Once you’ve landed on a few, do your best to get to know them. Ask them to coffee or to go through a book together. And then start soaking in some wisdom as your relationship grows.
After all, manhood is a team sport. It takes other men in your life for you to do it well.