In the church world, men are asked to both be a disciple and to make disciples. This was one of Jesus’s last commandments. Yet, for a number of men, this sounds very churchy and undesirable. What’s more, it can be intimidating when others aren’t as accepting of men who haven’t yet developed strong spiritual disciplines in their daily life. Other church men might quote Bible verses to tell them why they’re wrong and to help fix them. But if these words aren’t coupled with a relational connection and grace, they are rarely well received.
These kind of interactions may be one reason why the majority of men do not attend church.
A Friend Is a Lot Easier to Follow
So, how do we actually connect as brothers in Christ? Well, I seem to build good connections with other men when we listen to each other’s goofy stories and laugh. We seem to connect easier when we are doing stuff instead of sitting and talking in a circle. Plus, these activities help us feel valued by one another. I know these friends aren’t here to just tell me how to fix my life, because they hang out with me. They ask questions and are invested in my life.
Jesus did that a lot with his friends. He asked them to come live with him for three years. During that time, they walked together, ate together, and helped people. Through all this, these men grew very close. Once the men knew each other well, Jesus did what many guys do once they know each other well: he gave some of his disciples new names, just as we give each other nicknames. When we give nicknames, it’s our way of saying, “I know you and I value who you really are.” In living alongside these men and giving them new names, Jesus gave us a perfect model for male friendship. His actions remind us: to help men become disciples of Jesus, we need to have a desire to be their friend.
Men Really Need Friends Right Now
I recently read that among American men, around 83 percent don’t have a guy in their life they can call when they are really struggling with a serious issue. Over 50 percent of men feel lonely most of the time. Couple that with the rapid-pace of our society, our digital facades, and the rising dangers of pornography, and it’s no wonder men are lonely.
I am the CEO of a company and it’s pretty lonely. I have to work hard to stay connected to other men because I can’t always share the challenges I face with my staff or my family. Even in Small Group settings, I’ve found how important is is for the men to have separate time from the women, so we can truly connect and share our burdens at a deeper level.
As I man, I see the need because I feel the need. We really do need male friendship. We need male friends right now who know us and listen to us. We need friends who like us and value us for who we are, not what we have accomplished. We need friends who will point us to Christ and encourage us when we fall.
How Can I Develop Lasting Male Friendships?
The hardest part of friendship for men is finding a guy who seems to connect with you. If you are looking for a friend, I encourage you to not limit your search to your immediate circle. Try getting to know guys at the gym and at Men’s Ministry events at your church. Personally, I have developed strong friendships through my involvement with the Heart of a Man group at College Park Church. Each week, we meet to study, connect in small groups, and have fun together.
To maintain and build upon those relationships, I have made a habit of calling these friends on the phone once a week to check up on them. We also get together for breakfast one-on-one, golf, or workout together—we make friendship both substantial and fun.
Being a friend is easy when I don’t feel like I have to solve a friend’s problems and they don’t have to solve mine. Rather, we can support each other and seek to love each other the way Jesus loved the twelve disciples.
Jesus wasn’t alone, and we aren’t made to be alone either. We were created to live in community. I thank God that true friendship is available to build, strengthen, and bring enjoyment to us as men.