General Identity Relationships

No More Mr. Nice Guy!

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“Iron sharpens iron,

    and one man sharpens another.” Proverbs 27:17 ESV

Way too many of us men go about life on our own. Solo. No real authentic friends. Come to think of it, we developed this malady somewhere in our teens. Sure, we might have had the guys from the church youth group we ran around with, or the cluster of guys in college, but most of what we did was good-ole sports, fun, and antics. Rarely, did we take the time to dive deep into each other’s lives; to truly know and do life together as we entered our emerging manhoods.  Next thing you know, you’re in your later 20’s and beyond, perhaps with a family, working a job. Sure, lots of people around you, but no one with whom you truly know each other. 

I’m talking in generalities. I know there are exceptions, but, for the vast majority of us, if we are truly honest, we are lonely men. There is no one to speak truth into our life. No one we can be courageously vulnerable with.

The Enemy has our number.

Look I get it, we compensate for that soul ache by getting busy with work or school. Mowing the yard, fixing the kid’s broken bike, again. We bring our Bible to church, we might even be in a small group. We run the kids to their sports practice and do our best to attend all their games. We give to the church and we help with our neighborhood’s clean-up day. All good things, but to be honest, all it does is make us Really Nice Guys.  And, God is not interested in us being Really Nice Guys. He has a bigger and better plan for us!

The Enemy has our number in that he’s duped us into thinking following Jesus is about figuring out life on our own. There is even that aspect of being so focused on your personal walk with Jesus, you are essentially disengaged from those around you. 

God made you a Warrior.

You don’t have to listen to the news for more than five minutes to know that our country and our world are in serious trouble. Wokery is out of control. Double standards of justice. Christians handing out Bibles and getting arrested while the people around him burn the Bibles he was handing out. As Mike Pompeo says “It’s a mean and nasty world out there!”

Spiritual battles are real. In fact, Paul tells us in Ephesians that our fight is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, the powers, and principalities in the heavenly places. There are evils happening all around us. Being a Really Nice Guy is not going to cut it. Being a Really Nice Guy is not going to win the battle.

Yes, Jesus defeated sin and death once and for all. In the end, true Jesus followers win! But not without some hand-to-hand combat. Anyone who has been in the military knows you do not fight alone. You are part of a band of brothers who have each other’s backs. Geared up, trained up, and willing to go the extra mile to be sure your brother in battle is not taken out. 

The real battle going on around us, even in our own souls is one of identity. There are three deeply spiritual questions every man must ask:

  1. Who am I?

2. Why am I here?

3. Where am I going?

As for the first question Who am I?

Psalm 139 is very clear. You are created by God. In his likeness. Your spirit/soul is alive because God chose to give you life. You are fearfully and wonderfully made from the mole on your back to the shape of your face to the strength of your muscles to the mind and talents developing in you. You are no accident, even if your birth may have been illegitimate.

As for the second question, Why am I here?

Ultimately, God says you are here to know Him and his son Jesus Christ. Not a mere academic knowing but a soul-knowing. Released from the bonds of sin and set free in Him!

And the third question Where am I going?

One day, you will die. We hope you have found saving faith in Jesus. At your funeral, they will spend maybe 45 minutes summarizing your life. He was a good guy, a hard worker, loved his family, took them to church, paid all his bills, and took the family on vacations. He was a Really Nice Guy, but none of us really knew him. Is that what you’d like the world to remember you by?

Really Nice Guy.

There’s more to life than that.  How about they say all those things about you, but the most important thing they remember is that you were a Warrior for Christ who was courageously vulnerable and invested in the lives of other men in an iron-sharpens-iron way!

A courageously vulnerable man engages in a life-on-life soul level with other men in a way that God makes significant inroads into your masculinity.

In one of the Killing Lions videos, John Eldredge asks Trevor, age 25, what’s his greatest fear as a man.

“Being 55 and having no real close male friends.”

Ouch!  Do you know how you get to be 55 and have no real close male friends?  You keep your head down at age 15, at 25, at 35 and just focus on being a Really Nice Guy.  That approach is guaranteed to leave you lonely with a very shriveled-up view of manhood. You will be a fraction of the man you could be if you lived as the Warrior God called you to be!

There’s actually a fourth question we need to ask as well.

Who am I going with?

Who am I doing life with? Who has my back? Who am I taking the risk of faith by letting them see my fears and longings, my struggles, and yes, my victories and joys?  Who truly knows you?  

Take Justin and Ross. Now in their upper 20s, they’ve literally known each other since they were babies. Growing up on the same cul de sac, playing soldiers and riding bikes. Climbing the ancient weeper above the death zone as 12-year-olds. Enamored with Lord of the Rings and painting the miniatures with extreme detail, all while talking about life and girls and the fears and struggles of being a high schooler and what lies beyond. Of dreams and faith and what it means to be a man. Of surrounding themselves with older men who could mentor them. Through college and their early 20s, they hiked mountains in Montana and Colorado, camped in Kansas, and mountain biked in Utah. All while sharing their deep parts of life and walking with Jesus. Now, living States apart in Montana and Ohio, they are still like brothers for life walking with Jesus. Just imagine what they will be like at age 55 if they continue to pursue each other.

So, what’s it going to be?

Really Nice Guy or a Warrior for Christ?

“Iron sharpens iron,

    and one man sharpens another.”

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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