One of the quasi-questionable ways that society has misled the male population over the generations is by encouraging us to tighten our lips and “buck up” every single time whenever something negative happens in our lives. You know, “shut up and be a man!”
That’s not necessarily 100% poor advice. Depending on how you look at it, it is actually partially good advice. In fact, 1 Corinthians 6:13 instructs us to “Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong.” [ESV] We are also told in numerous places in Scripture to not engage in grumbling and complaining, and to instead “rejoice always” and “give thanks in all circumstances” (1 Thessalonians 5:16, 18).
Some of us guys, though, take things to the other extreme and never want to admit that we can be in a difficult season. I was taught to be like that growing up. I love my own dad, and in many ways, he raised me well, but he always took the old school tact of discouraging me from showing weakness of any kind. He instructed me to never be “mushy” or “touchy-feely.” Because of this, for decades I rarely mentioned when I went through any bouts of depression. It was even hard to admit that I let my guard down enough to cry at a movie!
And let’s face it. We men can be terrible at showing emotions. We want to flaunt how rough and tough we are, and that nothing will knock us down from our perch of being an unfazed alpha male. We can pretend that all is well while we chest-bump our buddies and grunt and growl like Tim Taylor from Home Improvement. We also have an additional layer of putting on a “happy mask” because we are pressured to keep up with everyone else’s supposedly joyful lives they falsely portray on social media.
While I can aim to have this devotional be about how it’s okay for you personally as a Christian man to show vulnerability, I want to turn this message on its ear and make it something a bit different and perhaps unexpected. I’m here to tell you to be on the lookout for guys who have a difficult time showing weakness. Some men aren’t very vocal about their adversities and can benefit from you reaching out in an authentic, brotherly way to dig beneath the surface to really see how they’re feeling.
Our own friends and Christian brothers could be going through some challenging trials in life, and you would never know it with some of them. No one is untouchable from the clutches of despair and heavy-heartedness. Millions of Americans battle with depression every day. Unaddressed, it could get worse. Suicide is the 11th leading cause of death in the United States, and it’s also the 2nd leading cause of death among people ages 15-24.
So today, I challenge to check in on a brother or two and see how they’re doing. Is there a guy you haven’t spoken to in a while? Reach out to him. Send a message to him and punctuate it with, “I’m here for you, buddy” or “Is there anything I can pray for you about?” Try to go beyond just the surface “I’m fine” or “I’m okay” response from him. And then invite him for a cup of coffee and some fellowship, your treat. Ask him if he wants to catch the latest superhero movie with you, or if he would like to join in on your local men’s study group. Just contact them, be there for them, and don’t ask for anything in return.
Romans 12:10 implores us to “Love one another with brotherly affection…” Don’t just assume that everything’s all hunky-dory, all sunshine n’ rainbows. Reach out and show your brothers that they matter to you. Your being there for your brother could be the one thing that will boost his spirits. You may have never thought of it this way, but you could be God’s answer to their prayers.
Love ya, brothers and sisters.