EMM Main Blog
Men are notorious for nurturing superficial friendships that center around the safer subjects of sports, business, sex and almost anything other than what’s most important. We men protect our reputation and ego by surrounding ourselves with other men who want the same thing, and don’t want to expose any true vulnerabilities or be held accountable for behaviors. “How’s work going?” “Did you see the game last night?” is easier than “How’s the marriage?” Over the last 15 years Every Man Ministries surveys reveal that only 1 in 10 men over 30 years have someone in their lives they would call a “true friend” who knows them at a deep or personal level. The irony of this reality is that we also know the margin of victory for men at the personal level is often… one other man, who is a true friend, who “gets under the rock” with you on the deep issues of life.
Wearing a 49ers jersey to the Seahawks stadium was like going into the lions’ den. Because of who I represented, I faced jeers and cheers, love and hate, hugs and mugs of beer, acceptance and rejection, affirmation and confrontation. It was a NFL playoff game with the Super Bowl appearance in the balance, but my jersey taught me a lesson about “fandamonium”and the “brand”I represent. Hoping you will take a seat in the classroom as well. The recent World Cup brought the world together, but make no mistake – every individual drew a line at their international border, marking their identity and proudly telegraphing how they would spend energy and express their loyalty. My passion for my sports teams is a matter of personal pride. I have a deep national, cultural, or relational bond there. No one who knows me is really surprised. I am competitive, loyal, and love sport. But I wonder, when push comes to shove, if God’s men are more inclined to represent their team or country in a more energetic manner than their Savior? So, here are three lessons to learn from our affection for sport that we can apply to ourselves.
As a kid I had a Batman helmet, pajamas, and soap on a rope. I wanted to have special power, defend the weak, and stick it to the bad guy. During my pre-teen years I traded my Batman helmet for a football helmet and dreamed big on that front too. Then reality struck and my fantasies of glory were replaced with the unvarnished complexities of no athletic scholarships and an uncertain future. For 99.9% of men, the dreams of our youth are replaced with ideas of what it takes to be successful in “man world”, which is typically synonymous with wealth and power. While pursuing a fulfilling career, men strive for more; climbing ladders we believe will provide meaning and significance. Our determination, hard work and commitment to our cause are usually applauded and rewarded. The means to an end is justified, glorified and amplified with every rung we climb.But our ambition, while considered honorable, can take us off course and into a soul-less fog.
Got your attention? Studies estimate men think about sex from 20 times a day to every seven seconds. The media uses sex to promote, tempt and ultimately sell stuff making it hard for men to avoid sexual imagery. Culture has made sex a tool, as well as a right for all men regardless of character, emotional maturity, or relational capacity. Clearly, sex is on our minds and a modern obsession, but out of context it is possibly the biggest cause for the degradation of human society. Key word? Context. So let’s address it: How can we have the best sex?
I have often thought that if the Devil can’t make a man bad he’ll make him busy. When I am busy or in a hurry it is impossible for me to have quality relationships with God or people. The Devil knows this and is able to hide behind any man’s “busy” schedule to accomplish his goal: the destruction of his relationships. He is very aware of the fact that to really know someone a man must learn to slow his pace down to be present and connect. There are the simple mechanics of healthy relationships that can be easily destroyed through external over-commitment and its partner – hurry. Satan’s scheme gets men playing the “busy” card as a justification for lack of quality in their connections with God and people. A full and robust work life should be an expectation of men not a rationalization for why our relationships are weak – especially when it comes to your relationship with God. Get that.