DadPad Quotes and Notes: Don’t be an April Fool-Part 2

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Proverbs 13:20 Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm.

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There are two dangerous things for men.  First, being alone.  Second, hanging out with those who’d be better off being alone.  There’s another verse that says, “bad company corrupts good morals.”  In some way, men face a real dilemma (at least this man has and has spoken to many others who have as well).  The dilemma?  We are afraid we’ll be found out.  We feel that if people (our wife, our boss, our kids, our friends) found out who we really were, we would be abandoned, fired, ridiculed, shunned or cast aside as useless, like an old shirt that no longer fits.  This theme has come up time and time again in discussions with other men in over 20 years of working in men’s (and family) ministry (as a layman and now full time on staff with FamilyLife).

There are no easy answers to this dilemma for men.  And, I’m not going to turn this into an analysis of the male psyche.  But, I do think that the verse above from Proverbs holds a key element in beginning to approach this problem for men.  When men feel threatened or inheritantly anxious about their roles and abilities, there is a trigger reaction to push people to the periphery of their lives.  I mean, if we let someone in too deep, they’ll discover what I’m really like and either render me as hapless or, worse, evil.

I’ve had more than my share of screw ups, moments of giving in to weakness, things done that I’m not proud of and thoughts that I can’t even share now.  Additionally, being a follower of Christ, often makes those inadequacies feel even weightier.  That is not the biblical truth but something that Christian men have wrestled with for centuries.

So, how have I experienced some victory in this area?  I’ve practiced what the verse says— I’ve spent time with others who understand these issues about themselves but who live according the truth as given to them by God through His Word.  I’ve learned to expose the truth to others about things I’ve done, ways I’ve messed up, and asked for advice from “wise guys”.  Whenever I found myself in seclusion or in the company of others who simply nodded or affirmed my destructive thoughts or behavior, I was trapped.  That’s why the verse “as iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another” has been so life transforming for me.

Our male “dilemma” is no more visible than in the area of fathering.  I don’t know about you but I didn’t see the manual come out with the child.  I have felt that I’m completely and woefully inadequate to be a dad.  Yet, if I respond to this feeling the same way I have in other areas of my life, I would simply find ways to work longer, travel more, rely on my wife to take care of the parenting duties.  You see, I’m pretty good at covering up my weaknesses by assigning them to someone else or ignoring them.  But, when I started sharing the responsibility of being a dad with other dads who felt strangely similar in their sense of inadequacy, it didn’t feel so burdensome.  As we began to encourage each other in our roles, listen to each other as we shared struggles and missed opportunities, we all began to sense that this was something we could do, with God’s and each others’ help.

My encouragement for you as a man and as a dad is to find a man in your church, at your work, in your neighborhood or family who you admire.  Someone who seems to have a peace about his life and would admit in a minute that he’s not done it all well but he has done it–this thing called manhood.  First, you’ll likely discover he didn’t do it alone and that he surrounded himself with other men who could encourage, admonish and lift him up.  Then, you’ll find out that he was (and probably still is) just as anxious about failing in all aspects of being a man as you are.

Don’t be an April fool.  No matter how much you’ve succeeded in some of your roles as a man, open yourself up to another man or group of men that can sharpen each other to be the men of God you were created to be.  No one can do this alone.

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