David and Jonathan were committed to being channels of life to one another–which is amazing since under most circumstances these two would have been archrivals!
Do you remember their story? Jonathan was the son of King Saul–the heir to the throne. David was a young shepherd boy–chosen by God to take King Saul’s place as king. This wasn’t because Jonathan lacked the character to be king but because his father Saul didn’t love or trust God. On the contrary, when you read about Jonathan you will see in particular a man of great character. He wanted to honor his father. Yet he loved his friend David.
How could such a friendship evolve or survive? Their friendship was born of the fact that both Jonathan and David love the Lord. Both trusted in God’s goodness. So when life became complicated–like when Saul was trying to hunt down David and kill him–both David and Jonathan trusted in the Lord and his promises. Only through the gift of spiritual friendship–a friendship rooted in God’s love and wisdom–could this be possible.
David and Jonathan made a covenant to under gird and support their friendship. We aren’t given the specifics of the covenant, but it certainly included their commitment to God and to each other. If you haven’t already, I hope you’ll consider taking steps to initiate this sort of friendship.
Tom’s a clerk in a hectic government office. In the midst of all the daily pressures, he’s regarded as one of the most even-tempered workers in the department. He’s quiet and efficient, and he never seems to get riled at anything.
Tom spends his energy herding his emotions because he feels they’re his enemy. Deep inside he believes that his father didn’t like him as a boy because he was too much of a crybaby and a ‘fraidy-cat.’ Since he perceives that he lost his father by being too much of a sissy, Tom isn’t about to expose his emotions as an adult. His controlled emotional detachment also keeps him distant from his wife. In the past, whenever Tom showed any signs of being troubled, angry, or fearful, she’d ask him what was wrong. His usual response was a curt, ‘Nothing!’ So she’s learned not to ask.
Detached men like Tom find it difficult to live out the values they profess because they ignore their heart, which is the center from which values come. Often detached men will become addicted to work, money, football, alcohol, or drugs.
Are you like Tom? Do you stuff your sense of defeat inside, thinking you should be able to ‘take it?’ Are you emotionally frozen? Perhaps you’re so dead inside you have little to give a relationship. Is your spouse enduring a frustrating relationship because you insist on suffering your losses alone?
You can change. Start by connecting with others. Find a safe person that you can talk to. We were meant for connection, not detachment.
Tony’s father died when he was a young boy. The event devastated him, and he plummeted into a yearlong depression. He eventually pushed the depression aside, however, through his achievements. He poured himself into his schoolwork and athletics, and excelled in both. He went on to college and into business knowing nothing but success because of his commitment to hard work and achievement.
As a young man, Tony, somewhere deep inside him, asked himself, Am I a man? But he couldn’t come up with an answer. His father, the main man in his life, was dead. Young Tony didn’t know by example what a real man was. The question persisted: Am I a man? Without the example and instruction of his father, Tony saw the achievement-oriented men in his culture and deduced that a real man was someone who worked hard, earned lots of money, and climbed the ladder of success. Any threat to his achievement, therefore, was a threat to his manhood, and that kept him perpetually angry.
In his ignorance, Tony wrongly defined manhood as something he did, not something he was. Are you like Tony? Maybe you’re like many men who were abandoned physically or emotionally by their fathers. If your definition of masculinity is linked to doing something there’s a good chance you often don’t feel like a man. And if you’re a dad, I encourage you to reflect on what message your sending your kids on what it means to be a man.