Q: What Are Men Really Hungry For? (Part 2)
*Editor’s Note: What are some things that men deeply hunger for, which can be met through discipling relationships with other men? We asked a panel of men who have discipled other men before, and below is Part 2 of their answers. For Part 1, click here.
A: Men Need to Experience Conversion
By John Caldwell
Let me start with the most basic issue of all, a personal relationship with Christ as Lord and Savior.
I hesitate to say this lest I be misunderstood and my orthodoxy be questioned; but I fear that many professing Christians have yet to experience genuine conversion. We of the Restoration Movement have so emphasized the importance of baptism, that at least some of us have failed to emphasize the importance of saving faith, repentance, and a genuine surrender to the Lordship of Christ.
I find this reflected in the growing absence of such Biblical terminology as being “born again,” “saved,” “converted,” “added to their number by the Lord,” etc.
I know that the number of baptisms is certainly something we can objectively report; and it is certainly not for me to judge anyone’s heart. Furthermore, I rejoice in reports of large numbers being baptized, assuming genuine conversion. After all, 3,000 were baptized on Pentecost. But if the emphasis is that of the water, is it not possible that many reported baptisms are those of people who went down dry sinners and came up wet ones?
Now, how does this relate to the question at hand? I believe there is a deep longing, often denied, within the heart of all people, male and female, for a personal relationship with their Creator.
I fear that longing is sometimes not fulfilled when people have a relationship with a church but not the living Savior. Even when that relationship is fulfilled, there is a need for community, for those with whom a person can share both their fulfillment and their struggles. It is especially important and difficult for men to be able to relate with other Christian men on a deep and honest level. In that regard many men struggle; many are lonely.
A: Men Need Intentional Accountability
By Lee Keele
Geoff (fictional name) was a part of our accountability group. At first, he would miss a meeting or two usually with some excuse about being busy doing this or that. And at first, the rest of us didn’t give it much thought. After all, he seemed to be doing fine? Or so he’d say. Over time, he started missing without any excuse at all. No phone call. No heads up. No nothing.
We tried to reach out, but his avoidance became more pronounced over a period of weeks, then months. After a time, it just became awkward to even see him in public. “Hey Geoff, how are ya?” “Fine. You?” “Good. Kids doing okay?” Yeah. Yours?” ‘Blah blah blah.”
What happened is that we were practicing poor accountability. That is to say, we had made our mutual desire to overcome the sin in our lives the centerpiece of our accountability.
“How’d you do this week?” “Any sinful thoughts?” “Any struggles?” “When? Did you journal it?” “Did you stumble this week?” “What are you doing to try better? Do better? Be better?”
I may be overstating the point, but I don’t think so.
Through this experience, and some good conversation, we were able to turn things around. We learned: When you make accountability for sin the centerpiece of small group activity, you create the potential to either ruin friendships, or make better liars of people. That’s what happened with Geoff. I don’t think it was entirely his fault.
Things for our group turned a corner when we began to supply what I now call “Intentional Accountability.”
Intentional accountability is not about being accountable for our sin, though it does provide an avenue for that when and if it is necessary. But rather than placing sin at the center of our effort–instead of coming together to try and “not” do something–we place God’s calling on our lives at the center.
“What is God calling you to do? What steps can we help you make to get you there? What tools do you need? What opportunities? How can we, your brothers in Christ help you get there?”
What we discovered is simple: When we stay on task with God around His calling on our lives, we begin to find the motivation we need to say no to the sin in our lives.
Men need accountability. For sin? Sure. But more importantly, for becoming the men God calls us to be.