Identity Mentoring Helps

Living an Examined Life

“Most men live an unexamined life.”  Dan Allender

Ask most any man how they feel and they are at a loss for words. “I have no idea.”  That’s often my default when asked. At least it used to be. In their book, “How We Love”, authors Milan and Kay Yerkovich, talk about childhood imprints that we bring into adulthood. These imprints often carry with them pains/wounds from the past that influence how we handle conflicts today. Not every guy, but many, are what is known as avoiders. When conflict arises, we avoid. We cocoon. We leave the room. We shut down emotionally thinking that will avoid the conflict. 


That was my modus operandi for most of my life. Current-day conflicts arouse certain painful emotions from the past. I go into avoidance mode only to see the pain perpetuated, not resolved. “Why am I like this?”  The source is found when I was a boy. No one truly took the time to know me. Sure, I was a normal kid playing under the swing set with my Matchbox cars, coming into the house full of mud from the river and lake I created with the garden hose and hoe. There were bridges to build!  Yes, I was a stinky 6th grader who decided baths took precious time away from riding bike.  I was also a confused teenager who didn’t understand what was happening to my body and those new sexual feelings, not to mention a minefield of zits that dubbed me “Pizza-face”.  Who was I becoming and what is all this talk about being a man?  That, along with bursts of anger from those I looked up to sent me to my inner closet of handling emotions on my own. 


In Ephesians 5, Paul tells men who are becoming husbands to love their wives in a way that parallels the way one nurtures and cherishes themselves.  In other words, if you aren’t self-aware, you won’t be able to handle relationships, especially marriage, in a healthy way. You need to become an increasingly self-aware man; mind, body, and soul. 

Male Accouterments

There are a plethora of online men’s accouterment sites. Special knick-knacks that cater to a variety of male interests. My downfall is knives and outdoor hiking and camping gear. Other sites promote body care; colognes to manly soaps and shaving gear for the entire body. Nothing wrong with smelling good and looking sharp. But, what about the soul?


God wired each of us with a mind and emotions that vastly influence the kind of man we become. How you and I handle emotions stems largely from how we were known and loved in our childhood. You have your own story and if you pause long enough, you can recall situations where pain overwhelmed you and no one was there to listen. 

God Listens

Psalm 139 is chocked full of how God knows us, hears us, and does not abandon us. I love verses 5 and 6 where the psalmist proclaims that God goes before us, behind us, and lays his hand on us. “Such knowledge is too wonderful. I cannot contain it!” The image of God laying his hand on my shoulder gives me an overwhelming sense of affirmation and closeness. Oh, how I longed for that, humanly speaking, growing up!

Darkest Moments

Think about your darkest moments. The situations that you struggle to process. My mom died on December 23. Picking out a casket with my sisters on Christmas Eve is not on my top 1000 list of favorite things to do. For the next 12 years, I struggled with Christmas. I was depressed. I dreaded putting up the Christmas tree. One year, I paid some young guys to set it up for me! Tears flowed sporadically. Ask my family, there were times I was miserable to be around. I know, cause I was miserable myself. If there was one person who tried to know me growing up, it was my mom. Now, she was gone. And, at Christmas-time at that!  Some of the conflicts in my current family stemmed from that painful experience.

Someone to Listen to Me

Part of examining one’s life takes an often arduous journey into some dark alleys of wounds and pains with someone who will listen to you.  I’m grateful for a wife who walks with me. “I will fight the battles of life with you.”  That was part of her wedding vows and she has proven faithful to that call. She has walked with me through some very tough times, including the darkest week of our marriage; the week before my quadruple heart bypass surgery. 

You Have to Talk

Articulating your emotions can be confusing and awkward at first. No one can listen if you are not speaking. Like learning to ride a bike, you need training wheels at first; to learn balance. Someone there to run with you. Someone you feel safe with. The more you talk about those unspeakable emotions, the more you will see God heal and restore you. The very things that were the bain of your manhood now become the very evidence of how God works through you supernaturally. 

Good Mentors Listen

Virtually every young warrior man I’ve mentored wants to get married. They see marriage as a blissful destination with companionship and plenty of sex. As much as that is true and desired, conflicts in marriage will arise; guaranteed. When they happen, don’t get all freaked out. In subsequent posts, we at Mentoring Warriors will walk through healthy steps in resolving conflict.  

There are reasons for the conflict and much of how you handle it stems from how you handled pain in your childhood.  Having a mentor who listens to you, to your heart, is a good way to process how you handle things. He needs to be safe, loving you unconditionally.

It’s Time

When’s the last time you examined your life? Your manhood maturity is directly connected to how well you process life. Do it with a mentor who is safe. It will prepare you for a healthier life. 

Warrior On!

David Riffel is the Founder and Executive Director of Having gone through his warrior years (18-30) essentially without a mentor, God has placed in him a heart for warriors, to come alongside them in various ways as they figure out life. David’s newly released book, Mentoring Warriors: Coming Alongside Young Men 18-30, outlines principles for mentoring and gives advice for warriors in six key areas of life: self-management, life skills, education/career, relationships, faith, and identity.

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