Your Alter Ego

Steve Arterburn

Did you know that service is a way of saying thanks to God?  You can never truly pay back the overwhelming love and support your parents may have shown you.  But you can pass the love on to your children.  In the same way, you can never repay God for granting you life in Christ and for blessing you, but you can pass his love onto others in practical ways.

One of the great barriers to service, however, is pride.  Pride causes men to scoff at the thought of putting others first.  Pride teaches you to calculate how every action will further your own reputation or advance you toward your goals.  Pride makes you keep careful record of who is next in line for something good.

The apostle Paul had much to say to us about sacrifice.  Chapter twelve of the book of Romans portrays several specific areas in which you can be a living sacrifice and serve God in the world.  As a living sacrifice, you surrender using your gifts solely for your own advancement.  You seek to bless others instead and sacrifice your time and resources for their benefit.  In the process, your life will be shaped into the image of greatest man who ever lived:  Jesus Christ.  Where do you sense God calling you to serve?  Let your motivation for service flow from a heart that’s thankful to God for the grace he’s shown you.

Asking For Directions

Stephen Arterburn

Men, God has a way of showing us that we don’t know as much as we think we do. And He will certainly act when we need to be shown that we don’t know better than He does.

 

That’s what happened to King Nebuchadnezzar, who had to learn a serious lesson in humility. Talk about a severe act of mercy: For seven years, this once proud king was struck with a mental illness that caused him to roam the pastures outside the palace and chew grass like a cow. After paying the price for his pride, the once self-sufficient and self-centered king said: ‘Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and exalt and glorify the King of heaven, because everything he does is right and all his ways are just. And those who walk in pride he is able to humble’ (Daniel 4:37). In this confession, three things are key for me: the words ‘everything,’ and ‘all,’ and the phrase ‘his ways.’

 

These words speak to the king’s new understanding of God’s control and to the choice he wants each of us to make: God’s way or my way. Too often we neglect to ask God, ‘How do you want me to handle this?’ or  ‘What does God’s Word call me to do in this?’  How should I respond to this situation in a manner consistent with God’s word?

 

The reasons for not asking these questions boil down to one of two issues: ignorance or arrogance. And neither is something I’d recommend. Men, neither will benefit you, and both carry very high price tags.

The Male Wound of Pride

Sam Fraser

C.S. Lewis wrote an article a half-century ago about men and pride. Essentially his point is that the temptation for men is to be too proud to ask for help. Christian or secular it’s a guy thing! Universally, it is the hardest word to speak out loud. Help! It has long been a part of our cultural standard to not ask for help. It is hard enough to ask for directions let alone something so much more intimate. Asking for help is being needy. We receive the message over and over that to be needy is shameful. Admitting that we are not self-sufficient is unspeakable. We learned a long time ago on the playground that expressing certain feelings was not cool. Coupled with no validating adult males growing up to help us understand ourselves, we end up feeling confused and insecure inside. But on the outside we learn to not let it show. Much of our most tender parts gets shut down or buried. We end up loners, isolated hiding behind a false mask called pride.

We hide behind pride when we pretend we don’t need help even when we do. Many of us have male friendships but not so close that we can talk openly about our struggle with sexual integrity.

Learning how to ask for help for sexual integrity is a very humbling experience.

I remember the first time I reached out by going to a 12-step meeting. In those days, as a Christian, there were few avenues available and the church had no clue how to help. I literally stood with my hand on the door fighting with shame to step inside. So much of me wanted to turn and run. My pride won out and I did not go through that door. It was too humiliating to admit I was like all those others guys who couldn’t make it on their own. It was another 12 years until the pain outweighed the fear and I got help. And even then, reaching out was a product of being caught and having my world come crashing down all around me.

One of the defining characteristics of each man that comes to an Every Man’s Battle workshop is trying to fight the battle by himself. Not asking for help, attempting to fight this battle alone, isolated. As men, we experience a lot of guilt and shame because we can’t stop playing with ourselves. I could rationalize it when I was young but not as an adult. And as a Godly man, we feel all the more that we should be able to handle our sex drive. We think that since no other guys are talking about it we must be the only one with the problem. Whoops, got to hide that one!

Since we are not talking about it and for one reason or another seem unable to experience any sustained victory on our own, we end up feeling defeated. Our pride keeps us from confessing this failure in an important area of our Christian walk. We fake that every thing is okay or we avoid others by keeping everyone at a distance to hide the secret.

Pride keeps us from getting the help we need. Our wound won’t let us ask for help.

One of the main features when men begin to succeed is that they get connected to other men. Essentially, admitting the need for help. It takes all kinds of strength and courage to admit the need for help.

The Bible refers to reaching out for help and identifies as humility. Mmmm, humility! When I am weak, then I am strong (2 Cor. 12:10 ). For many of us God has been very patient in this important area and He will continue to be so. What Christ has done on the cross will always make it true. This issue has been the downfall for many and will continue to defeat us as long as we remain in male pride. It will continue to take us down unless we are humble enough to ask for help and connect with other men for support and encouragement. It is one of the defining moments for every man who attends EMB. It takes a strong man, not a weak one, to admit that. Pride or humility? Your choice.

If you can’t attend EMB, get connected locally. Pray and God will lead you.
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