Two Are Better Than One: Walking Together

Two are better than oneFor the past few posts we have been looking at Ecclesiastes 4:9-10, 12.

9Two are better than one because they have a good reward for their efforts.  10For if either falls, his companion can lift him up; but pity the one who falls without another to lift him up…. 12And if someone overpowers one person, two can resist him.  A cord of three strands is not easily broken. (CSB)

In the first post regarding this scripture I shared with you this is a good description for men to apply Proverbs 27:17, “Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another” (ESV), into their lives to encouragement men as they develop an intentional relationship with God.

In the previous post we looked at verse 9 encouraging men to work together.  In this post we will look at verse 10 encouraging men to walk together.

In the last decade one of the things I enjoy doing, is to pour my life into other men.  1 Thessalonians 2:8 shows the example of this as Paul and his companions spoke of their passion towards the people of Thessalonica;

8We cared so much for you that we were pleased to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own lives, because you had become dear to us.

Ten years ago, while I was going through some health trails of my own I was invited to join a small group of men on Saturday morning from my church.  I discovered this group of men were men who not only loved the Lord but had a strong desire to pour their lives into other men.

  • Men who encourage other men as they are going through their own struggles of life.
  • Men who share their own battles and how they walk through those struggles.
  • Men who taught God’s word.
  • Men who encourage scripture memorization.
  • Men who would hold me accountable. Ask me some hard questions about integrity, bible reading, my devotion time.
  • Men who would pray with me and be available whenever necessary.

This had a dramatic effect on my life.  This drew me closure in my walk with God, more than anything else I had ever done in the church.  It helped me to develop an intimate and intentional relationship with God.  More so than I had ever known.  And because of that time in my life, God gave me a passion – a burden – to minister to men.

Today I meet with men regularly.  As an example, I meet with one group of men once a week early in the morning at a local McDonald’s restaurant before they head off to work.  We talk about their past week; their rewards and their struggles.  I ask them what they are reading, in the bible and in general.  I ask them about their devotion time.  We study God’s word.  We pray.  This is Walking Together as men deal with the issues of life and the culture of the world we live in.  Encouraging men by letting them know they are not alone and there is someone there that can help pull them out of the pit if they fall.

We men have a knack of trying to do life on our own.  But when you look at scriptures you see that is not how Jesus showed us.  Jesus pulled 12 men close to him to teach and encourage.  He pulled three of those men – Peter, James, and John – even closure to pour His life into those men.

Jesus modeled what it really means to disciple – to mentor.  To go after the real issues that affect an individual’s relationship with God and others.  And the only way you can do that is to develop an intentional relationship with others.

Jesus taught his followers to make disciples, not converts.  The way a believer moves from one to the other is through the intentional discipleship of their character, knowledge, vision, and skills.  While evangelism brings people to Christ, discipleship brings people to “full growth in Christ” so they can be “equipped for every good work” (Eph 4:15, 2 Tim 3:17).

When Jesus pulled those 12 men into his circle He knew what we all know: men are like icebergs – we only see the tip; but, there’s a much deeper spiritual drama unfolding below the waterline.

Men in the church today face the same challenges and frustrations as men outside of the church.  That should not be.  For example, in the book ‘No Man Left Behind’ it states that for every ten men in the church;

  • Nine will have children who leave the church.
  • Eight will find their jobs dissatisfying.
  • Six will pay the monthly minimum on their credit card bills.
  • Five will have a major problem with pornography.
  • Four will get divorced – affecting one million children each year.
  • Only one will have a biblical world-view.
  • And, all ten will struggle to balance work and family.

Men, we need each other.  As I talk with men, without exception, every one of them will tell me they struggle the most when they are alone.  Every one of us need a man who can walk alongside of us.  This is what discipleship is all about.

When we talk to men we find that though they may not be showing it on the outside, we find that many men are hurting.  Something is holding them back from feeling fully alive.  They inevitably mention one or more of seven inner aches and pains that most men feel when they are trying to do this journey on their own:

  • I just feel like I’m in this alone.
  • I don’t feel like God cares about me personally – not really.
  • I don’t feel like my life has a purpose – it feels random.
  • I have these destructive behaviors that keep dragging me down.
  • My soul feels dry.
  • My most important relationship is not healthy.
  • I don’t feel like I’m doing anything that will make a difference and leave the world in a better place.

So, what do we do about it.  What do we do to help these men and how will it impact the church?

We will discuss that next time as we look at verse 12 of Ecclesiastes 4.  It will be the third action that we need to apply in our lives as we encourage men in their walk with Christ – the action of watchcare.

Together in the adventure and challenge to disciple men – Mike.

 

Two Are Better Than One: Working Together

Two are better than oneIn my previous post I shared that many Men’s Ministries use Proverb 27:17, “Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another” (ESV) as their scripture verse for the ministry.  Though this is true, we need to understand how this is done, how does one man sharpen another?  It is not done just because you attend church together, sitting next to each other in a church service or at a men’s conference.  We need to understand how to sharpen each other and I believe Ecclesiastes 4:9-10,12 helps us understand how men need to go about sharpening each other.  We read this from those verses;

9Two are better than one because they have a good reward for their efforts.  10For if either falls, his companion can lift him up; but pity the one who falls without another to lift him up…. 12And if someone overpowers one person, two can resist him.  A cord of three strands is not easily broken. (CSB)

I have come to appreciate this text in Ecclesiastes more for what ministering to men should be all about.  In the previous post I shared there are three actions I see that we can glean from this text for us to apply in our lives to help us minister to men.

In this post we are going to look at the first of these actions which is working together.  Look at verse 9 again,

9Two are better than one because they have a good reward for their efforts.

In the New American Standard Bible, the last few words of this verse read, “good return for their labor.”  We see in this verse the attitude of working with another and not working alone.  As we work together we increase our output, our efficiency, our effectiveness in accomplishing the task we are about.

Working with others has advantages.  God designed us for companionship, not isolation and not loneliness.  We men sometimes prefer isolation.  I know I do.  I enjoy my time alone and to be perfectly honest with you, I like working alone.  I feel like I can get more accomplished when I am by myself.  But that is not really true.

Working together we not only have a good reward for our efforts; but, we also begin to develop relationships with those we are working with.  Working together gives us an opportunity to get to know the people God has place in our lives.  By getting to know these individuals, winning their trust, you will earn the privilege to speak into their lives as God leads.

Working together also helps us to recognize the work God is doing.  We have the joy of seeing God’s hand as He is transforming men into His image.  Those who are more mature in Christ can also be an example to those who are new in their walk.  They can provide encouragement.

A few months ago, I had the privilege to travel to Big Pines Key, Florida with about 15 others to help in the recovery effort from Hurricane Irma.  Though it was a blessing to help the people in Florida there was even an additional blessing to work alongside other men.  We walked into some sad and devastated areas that most would not know where to start.  But because there were men working together we encouraged each other and got right to work on the property and house we were assigned and within a few short hours had the property and the outside of the house cleaned up to allow reconstruction.

What we did in Florida was a massive undertaking, I know that, but there are tasks and mission opportunities in our communities that men need to be working together to encourage each other to complete.  To advance the kingdom of God and bring needed help to those in our communities that cannot do it on their own.  Sometimes just getting together to fellowship with each other over a meal, or watching a sporting event, or some other activity can go a long way to help create those relationships.

We see this throughout scripture.  Jesus sent the disciples out in twos.  The apostles worked together in at least groups of two.  Always ministering and supporting each other wherever they went.  This is the example men need to take and apply to their own lives.  Working alone can and will allow you to be an easy target for the enemy.  So do not do it wherever possible.

Men need to be building relationships, so they can be there when men need encouragement and together we can advance the kingdom of God by working alongside each other to help those who are in need.

Through work activities men can encourage and support other men who may be struggling and as you develop relationships with these men we move to the next action we see in this text.

Next time we will look at the second action we need to apply to our lives; Walking Together.

Together in the adventure and challenge to disciple men – Mike.

 

Two Are Better Than One

Two are better than oneWow!  We are in a New Year and already at the start of the second month.  Where does the time go?  Seems that we just start one new year and then Wham!, another is upon us.  This year is starting off with a bang.  Many of us has dealt with the flu or some other sickness during January.  The first two weeks of this year had me down as I ran a fever for eight straight days.  That will zap the strength right out of you and it takes a while to get your stamina back.  But I am back and ready to see what God is going to do in 2018.

Since I have been involved in ministering to men, I have had the opportunity to meet with men throughout Southeast North Carolina and across the state regularly.  There are many men who are doing great work for our Lord and growing daily in a relationship with God.  However, there are a large number of men who are struggling with life issues.

One of my struggles, according to my wife, is that she tells me that my filter is wearing out.  That sometimes I speak before I think about what I am going to say.  Well that may be true.  But, you know, I like being surprised just like everyone else.  I may make light of our struggles, but I am like every other man when I say that I too struggle with issues.

Over the next few posts I want to share with you how men in our churches can be impacting other men in their local body of believers.  How they can be an encourager and help men who are struggling with life issues.

When we ask most churches, what are they doing with their men or what does their Men’s Ministries consist of, we find that it is centered around gathering events or mission opportunities.  That is all well and good and I certainly encourage these activities; but, we need to understand that ministering to men is much more.  Many times, Men’s Ministries uses Proverb 27:17 as their scripture verse;

“Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another” (ESV).

Though Proverbs 27:17 is true, that one man does sharpens another, there is a text in Ecclesiastes I believe helps us to understand how men need to go about sharpening each other.  The text is found in Chapter 4 verses 9-10, 12.

9Two are better than one because they have a good reward for their efforts.  10For if either falls, his companion can lift him up; but pity the one who falls without another to lift him up…. 12And if someone overpowers one person, two can resist him.  A cord of three strands is not easily broken. (CSB)

Read this text again.  Verse 9 and the beginning of verse 10 is a word of encouragement; but then, at the end of verse 10 we see a warning, “but pity the one who falls without another to lift him up.”  Then verse 12 provides us another word of encouragement.

Over the last decade I have come to appreciate this text in Ecclesiastes more for what ministering to men should be all about.  The next several posts we will unpack this text and discuss the three actions I see for us to apply in our lives to help us minister to men we encounter.

I will give you a hint and tell you we will find it all deals with relationships.  Rather men want to admit it or not – men respond to ‘manly’ relationships.  As Tim, the Tool Man Taylor would say, “Auugghhh?”  Men are somewhat isolationist when it comes to their feelings; they rarely share their feelings, even to their wives.  And they certainly are not going to share with another man unless they know they can trust the individual completely.

Men, if they are left to their own devices, will run like water taking the path of lease resistance, even if it is wrong.  That’s why men need strong relationships in their lives.

Next time we will look at the first action we need to apply.

Together in the adventure and challenge to disciple men – Mike.