Overcoming Through Teamwork

Stephen Arterburn

Are you sitting down? I hope so, because I’m about to share something shocking: Thirty percent of fathers who get divorced never see their kids again! And of the seventy percent who do, many see their children only sparingly—that is, the occasional weekend or holiday. These broken relationships cause great internal anguish and insecurity in these men’s children, leaving them hungry for intimacy, and susceptible to taking it wherever they can find it. Sexual sin flourishes in the wake of broken family relationships. The splintering effects of divorce shatter their children’s worlds. Rather than feeling accepted and cherished by their parents, they feel as though they’ve been cast aside. Consequently, they attempt to compensate for the love, affection, and affirmation that should have been provided in the home by mom and dad. Yet hope is by no means lost. One of the key components to making it through is teamwork. Kids from divorced families, need supportive friends and groups. More importantly still, they need an intimate relationship with Jesus Christ. These kids face the daunting challenge of asking for help, and being honest about their emotions and struggles. It’s a major victory to come to this point, and most won’t do it alone. If you know a young man or woman from a divorced background, know that this is probably where they are at, and pray about how you could extend your hand to help.

Religion Isn’t Masculine

Stephen Arterburn

Masculine mythologies become most dangerous when they undermine God’s calling upon men to faith and worship. Real men, the myth goes, aren’t supposed to need the crutch “religion” provides, that’s for kids, women, and the elderly—that is, people unable or afraid to face reality and grab life by the horns.

 

Guys, that myth thrives only in modern Western culture. Patrick Arnold, assistant professor of Old Testament at the University of San Diego, says this:

 

“An imaginary trip around the world might quickly shatter that idea. Listen to Buddhist monks in Tibet…Witness throngs of Hindu men making their annual pilgrimage to Benares. Watch a sea of Muslim males pray passionately to Allah in a huge Arabian mosque. Join Hasidic men in Jerusalem…earnestly in prayer at the Western Wall. See the joyous faces of African tribesmen, scarred with ritual signs of their manhood…Or, for that matter, join charismatic evangelicals at a local businessman’s prayer breakfast…Men are naturally deeply religious, all right; it is just that modern culture provides little help for them anymore in minding their natural masculine spirituality.”

 

Do you sense the tension between your need for a relationship with God through Jesus Christ, and our culture’s insistence that no such need exists?

 Listen to me: you—along with all men—were created by God to worship God for the glory of God. When you do so, you’re expressing your true humanity, and your true masculinity.

Focus On Being

How can men begin breaking through the masculine myth of ‘you-are-what-you-do’ and see that their true identity is in Jesus Christ. Once you grasp that, you can begin relating to other people, especially other men, apart from what they do. We must open up our schedules, set aside our Day-Timers, and get to the business of allowing our identity in Christ to liberate and transform our human relationships.

A friend named Nathan meets each week with a group of four other men to do what men rarely do. They purposely avoid talking about what they do in order to talk about who they are and how they feel. They’re learning to peel away the layers of ingrained masculine facade; to give and receive the nurture, affirmation, and encouragement they desperately need but are often too ‘manly’ to seek.

Recently Nathan shared a painful issue with his friends. His father lays dying in a nursing home. He’s incapacitated. His mind is totally gone. Nathan visits him, and helps dress and care for him. What he wants more than anything is to hear these words from his father before he dies: ‘Nathan, you’re a good son.’ But he knows he never will.

Nathan’s friends let him share these painful and vulnerable feelings, and offer consolation and encouragement as he deals with his pain and loss. There aren’t many men who function together as these five do. But that can change. And perhaps you’ll be part of that change.

Steve Arterburn