Perry Emerick – Mesa Campus Pastor
I was having lunch today with a couple of guys and the subject came up of men’s bible studies and how when the study starts going deep, attendance starts to drop off. One of my friends had put together a group of guys to go through the book, “Every Man’s Battle” a number of years ago. He started off with about a half a dozen guys and by week three, sat alone. Another friend is part of a group going through a video teaching series targeted at men called “33.” He commented on a similar situation where the subject started really digging into some of the deeper issues that men face, and a number of men in the group started dropping out. I’m sure if you asked them, they would all find some legitimate reason why they were no longer able to attend, but the fact is, men don’t always like dealing with the hard stuff. Frankly, no one likes dealing with the hard stuff, especially when it is their own hard stuff.
It is an interesting thing to consider. We all have issues and pains, and though they are not all the same, nor to the same degree of severity, they are all there. It is a condition of our sinful nature. Yet for many of us, knowing it is there and actually being willing to deal with it are two different things. As I see it, there at four ways we tend to approach it:
1. Feel bad for those who struggle with that – translation: I don’t have a problem. This is the tough guy response, quick to acknowledge other people’s issues but completely oblivious to their own. These are the guys that either drop out, or don’t even attend in the first place, because their things, if there are any, aren’t that bad. There are a lot of other people worse off than them. And in their wake are the remnants of relationships and in their present are often a collection of acquaintances with little depth.
2. Acknowledge and move on – I think this is the most common one out there. When faced with the hard truth of issues in our lives, whether it comes through a spouse, a close friend, a compelling message, a bible study, or any kind of confrontation, we are likely to admit it, even if just to ourselves, and then we move on, often with some half-hearted admission that we know we need to “deal with that someday”. The hard thing is that someday will likely come when it is too late… if it comes at all. We often don’t want to deal with it because deep inside we know it will be hard, and we will have to face some things that are going to be uncomfortable. So, we just move on, hoping it won’t come up again, or even better, will just go away. But that rarely if ever happens. And too often we live in our junk, content with mediocrity, or worse yet, continuing to sabotage in our lives and relationships.
3. Shack up with your junk – There are some who are all too willing to acknowledge their issues and pain. It is the one constant in their lives, and the one thing they can fall back on when things don’t go the way they want them to. They are more than comfortable blaming their dysfunctions, shortcomings, and lack of growth on everything but their own choices and decisions. They are willing to go deep with any and every person who will listen, but when it comes to actually doing something different and taking responsibility for their future, it is incomprehensible. Hope is available, healing is an option, but that would me evicting all that junk that we are very comfortable living with.
4. Deal with it and grow – Obviously the most difficult, and the most beneficial of all the choices. For some, this is a fairly mild process of getting honest with yourself and others, and putting real things in place in order to change your thinking and behavior. For others, it might require a deeper level of commitment, either through one on one discipleship, or even professional counseling. It may require confronting some lies, and stepping out of our comfort zone. It might involve offending someone and changing some relationships. Either way, what it offers is growth and healing. And when done in the context of surrendering to God, it can also offer the opportunity to help others to do the same.
So where are you? And better yet, where do you want to be? We can all talk about getting “better” about things, but until we are really ready to face it and function differently, it’s just talk. And you know what they say about talk right? It’s pretty cheap.