These men’s blogs I’m posting are being sent first as emails to all the men in our church and even though I’m directing them toward men I believe everyone can benefit from them. So they’ll be posted here (sometimes with minor changes) one week after the men have received them as emails.
“Jesus grew in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and all the people.” (Luke 2:52, NLT)
In this one sentence we see a clear framework for our own personal growth as men. We’ve already talked about how every man should be growing in wisdom, improving in their physical health and how ever man should be growing up spiritually.
The fourth area of personal growth for men is growing socially and relationally.
I don’t know about you, but this one can be tough for me. God designed you for family and friendships, but it goes deeper than that. God designed you to be growing socially and relationally. In other words, you shouldn’t be stuck or complacent in your relationships. Luke says, “Jesus grew . . . in favor with . . . all the people.” (Luke 2:52, NLT) He not only grew in favor with God, but He earned the respect and admiration of people. Don’t get confused Jesus was no people pleaser. He was always willing to speak truth, which ultimately led to His death.
Nonetheless, Jesus loved people, served people and built strong relationships with people. He had a dozen men He spent a lot of time with. There were three men, Peter, James and John, who were His closest friends. The week before His death He spends time with His friends, Martha, Mary and Lazarus.
Jesus was willing to do what many men aren’t – reach out and connect. As He walked by some fishermen, busy about their work, He invited them to get to know Him. He invited Himself into the homes of businessmen like Zacchaeus, Matthew and Peter, as well as, the homes of those who were wealthy and not so wealthy; the homes of the healthy and the homes of those who had suffered loss. He was willing to serve – to give of His time and gifts. He protected the defenseless and ultimately died for both His enemies and His friends.
Does any of this describe you? Or do you cloister yourself away from others? Are you isolated and unwilling to step outside your comfort zones? You can’t influence your community for Jesus in isolation. You can’t get healthy or overcome addictions or cultivate real love all alone. You need people.
Growing socially and relationally is challenging for most men because we’re competitive (not a bad thing in and of itself) and insecure. We’re always afraid. We’re afraid we’ll fail. We’re afraid we’ll look stupid. We’re afraid of being rejected or judged or assessed as not measuring up.
We’re afraid, but healthy men take risks to connect with others. They text their friends, get coffee together, participate in the life of the church and talk about life in general and about deep, spiritual things as well.
And if growing relationally means being a better friend, it certainly means being a better husband and dad, if you are one or both of those things. It means valuing your family and fighting for them. It means taking care of their needs and helping them grow spiritually. You should never miss an opportunity to point your family to Jesus.
I’ll be back next week with some concluding thoughts.
*Inspired and adapted from an article by Brandon Cox