It’s 5:00 a.m. on Saturday. Most men I know are still in bed. They are “sleeping in.” My presumption is that they want the additional hours of sleep to rejuvenate from the work week. Personally, I am not one to sleep in. I typically sleep, at most, 6 to 7 hours. This, I believe, is the result of my time being stationed aboard a submarine. For those that do not know, when a submarine is underway the crew operates on an 18-hour cycle, rather than the normal 24-hour cycle.
Nonetheless, even if I were a man who liked to sleep in, I would still get up at 5:00 a.m. every Saturday. Why? It’s because I am headed to breakfast. But not just any breakfast. I am headed to breakfast and Bible study with the guys. This is how I rejuvenate from the work week.
This weekly breakfast and Bible study is a tradition that I and a few other men in Phoenix began over 10 years. We have met almost every week since its inception. Though, at times, one or two of us may be absent, the group remains steadfast, as does our ritual. We begin at 6:00 a.m. with breakfast and fellowship. At 6:30 we start our Bible study, and we promptly end at 7:00. Over the years, a lot of men have started and quit. But we have our constants, the core group of guys on whom we can count.
The relationships I have built with the steadfast men in my group are invaluable. These men speak life, truth, encouragement, wisdom and, when needed, correction into my life. But the value of these relationships is not just in what these men can do for me, it is in what they allow me to do for them. You see, I have found that there is great value in not just allowing men to pour into my life, but in pouring into other men’s lives. If you do not have friends who pour into your life, and who allow you to pour into theirs, you are missing out on meaningful, value-added friendships.
Developing and fostering meaningful friendships requires time and effort. Generally speaking, it is a level of time and effort that most men would prefer to avoid. This is because independence, or at least the need to personify independence, is either in our DNA, suggested by the culture, or both. Our male pride does not allow us to admit to ourselves, let alone others, that we actually need someone else (especially other men) to bring value to our lives. To do so, would mean admitting to weakness or even failure. I know, because I thought this way for much of my own life. That is, until I finally let my guard down.
The year was 1995. My wife and I were living in the Washington, D.C. area. I was dissatisfied with my church and I was going through a professional and a spiritual crisis. The specifics of these circumstances are presently unimportant. It was during this time, however, that a friend (at that time he was more of an acquaintance) approached me about meeting each week for breakfast and a short Bible study. Shortly thereafter, he and I, together with two other men, began meeting together every week. Even though I moved to Phoenix in 2000, those men (plus others) continue meeting to this day, almost 15 years later. The lessons I learned from these weekly meetings are what prompted me to begin our group in Phoenix.
The most important lesson I learned is that men need other men. As I stated above, this is something men do not like to admit. But as we began meeting, I realized that each of them had life experiences that allowed them to develop wisdom in areas of their lives where I lacked such wisdom. Each of them had attained Biblical knowledge in areas where I lacked such knowledge. And you know what? The flip-side was true, too. Through my life experiences, I had developed wisdom in areas where they lacked wisdom; I, too, had attained Biblical knowledge in areas where they lacked knowledge. We were able to learn from, and grow with, each other. We spoke life, encouragement, and hope to each other. We laughed together. We cried together. Most importantly, we prayed together. The same is true of the men I meet with presently.
The ability and desire to both receive wisdom from, and dispense wisdom to, other men requires trust. The ability and desire to let your guard down – to laugh, cry, and pray with other men – also requires trust. Such trust only comes through true friendship. Unfortunately, trust and friendship, as I alluded to above, require effort. Believe me, if you invest the effort, you’ll find it is well worth the return.
During my lifetime I have witnessed several men, some in positions of influence, succumb to moral failure. Some of these men I have known personally, others I’ve known only by reputation. In almost every instance I am aware, these men either failed to engage other men or did not allow other men to speak wisdom into their life. They either isolated themselves or surrounded themselves with men who spoke only what they wanted to hear, rather than what they needed to hear. Such is a recipe for disaster.
If you are a man and you do not have other men in your life whom you can receive and dispense wisdom and knowledge, you are missing out. You are missing out not only on opportunities to reap benefits of another man’s wisdom and knowledge, but on opportunities to allow other men to reap benefits from your wisdom and knowledge. You do not have to meet early Saturday mornings. Indeed, you do not even have to meet in the morning . Just meet! And do so regularly. I guarantee you this – you (and they) will not regret it.
I am the man I am today due in large part to the men I began meeting with in 1995, and to the men I continue meeting with today. I want to thank you: Curtis Kirby, Rich Chilcot, Sam Childress, Shelly Kutler, John Roberts, Steve Milldrum, Dennis Wardwell, Mark Brenneman, and Roy Wiley. I am forever indebted to each of you.