Three Key Ingredients in Community

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“I like this place man. It’s like an online community, but in real life.” – Topher in Flaked

 

So far in this series on community we’ve looked at three reasons we need to be in community and three lies we tell to avoid community. Today we’re going to look at three ways to be in community.

 1-Honesty

To be in community with other men there must be honesty. Without this foundation, there is no community. Without it, this group of guys is just like any other organization that never gets below surface level issues. It will be a place that will never gets beyond the topics of weather and sports. And over time you’ll wonder why you even belong.

So what does being “honest” mean? It means not covering up the crap in your life and acting like you’ve got it all together. It means calling each other on BS. It means when you’re called out, to not deny or dismiss it. It means to man up and stop acting like you have it all together. To do this we need, humility, the next ingredient in community.

 2-Humility

To be in community there must be humility. Not the “Aw gosh, I’m not good enough.” type of humility. But, the humility that says, “I am here to listen.” “I have been there too.”, “I don’t have the answers, but I’m with you.” It’s humility, paired with honesty, that gets a community beyond the surface level stuff and into areas of the heart that need light, hope, and healing.

 Humility is not a low opinion of yourself or self deprecation.

 3-Hunger

To be in community there must be a hunger for more than what the world has to offer. We have a problem called comfort in our society. We get comfortable with our lives. We get to a place where we aren’t challenged, where we get complacent, where we say “Why bother this is as good as it gets.” But, that hunger has always been there and still is, it’s just been “covered” up by comfort.  We all have a hunger to be more, to be better, to be the men God has called us to be. You need to acknowledge that. Embrace it. Ask God to make you uncomfortable so that you can grow. A community with a godly hunger will move each other toward that.

 

“Hunger is what moves a community out of talking about problems to solving problems. It moves a community from commiserating to changing.”

The Big Humongous Tree Trunk

 

 

Well… if finally happened. The first dent in the new Subaru… and I did it. After a cool, beautiful day hiking in the Wild Basin area of Rocky Mountain National Park, it happened… and it made me think. But before I go there… let me set the stage.

On my day off… the day before my wife, Sara’s birthday, we wanted to get some mountain air and have a nice enjoyable day hiking in the mountains, so we decided to go to the Wild Basin area. When we arrived at the entrance, the Park Ranger told us that a child had been lost in the falls area and there were many people involved in the search and rescue, so be aware. He also warned us that there was probably no parking, so off we went and everything he had said was true… no parking, a lot of forest service vehicles and people, and an atmosphere of concern everywhere.

We finally found a place to park, got our backpacks on and then headed off in the direction we thought we needed to go to get to the trailhead. After enjoying a couple of miles of hiking and scenery, we realized that we had gone the opposite direction so we turned around and headed back. It was pretty unsettling that during our hike, we saw many Forest Service trucks and a Dive Rescue team go by. We got back to the car and were still wondering what happened to the child… an interesting feeling hung in the air. We had some lunch and then decided to head down the mountain.

As I was backing out of the small space, I was thinking about the nice hike, the beautiful mountains and how much I enjoyed being with Sara… then I thought that I better look at the backup display… but it would beep if I got close to anything… and then CRASH… abrupt stop… OH NO! (Actually, if I’m honest, I thought something else!) Looking at Sara… “I’ll go look… please don’t get out”… Slowly opening the door… sloooowly walking to the back of the car… there’s the big humungous tree trunk… and then… an even bigger dent with pine sap all over it. Then the guilt, condemnation, second guessing, disappointment… you know theDent feeling… the sinking feeling in your gut when you’ve done something that was “less than smart!” Slow trod back to the driver’s seat… I didn’t have to say much to Sara… my face said it all.

So here’s where the thinking comes in…

I realized that at a point like this, Sara had a choice to make and so did I. Towards the guilty party, me, the choices were:

  1. Anger and condemnation at the person for not thinking it through
  2. Grace and care as they self-condemned and were laden with guilt

Thinking through it, it seems that the choices made are sometimes a reflection of how big a deal is made out of the transgression. The bigger the problem seems… the more likely that the response is anger and condemnation. Even deeper, it also seems that how big of a deal it seems is affected by how big a view is taken. You see… to me that dent looked awfully big while I was standing on that dirt road with the big humongous tree trunk right there. Sara loves her car and there had been no dents before… this was the first one… so it was a big deal! But to my relief, Sara chose grace and care for me. She helped me see the bigger picture and put it into perspective. Compared to a lost child, a dent in a bumper was minor… not incidental… but minor in the big scheme of things.

Often we are faced with these situations as spouses, family members and parents… But the real question is… how often do we overreact and respond in anger and condemnation… even when the guilty party’s face shows deep self-condemnation and sorrow?

What I learned in this very personally challenging situation was that I needed someone to help me put it into and keep it in perspective. I was already convicted of my stupidity… I needed someone to help me be realistic about the size and consequences of the dent and to not let allow me to make it about my self-worth and value. It needed to be a learning opportunity.

As spouses and parents, we need to see ourselves in that role. When, not if, our spouse or child messes up… there are always consequences… but your reaction can affect their self-worth and their perspective.

Step back and put things in perspective. You too will learn a lot.

8.16 Whetstone Newsletter

Duty is the essence of manhood.

Welcome to the August edition of the Whetstone Newsletter. August bring us the Olympics, school starting back up, and hopefully some cooler temperatures later in the month. The father- son camping trip was a blast last weekend. We had about 35 grandfathers, fathers, and sons out in the wilderness for the weekend. The Whetstone Backpacking trip take place later this month and I am excited for that adventure. What’s going on with  you?

Read

How Can You Get a Mentor?Russell Moore

I often hear from Christians who want to find a mentor, but aren’t sure how to go about that. Often these believers know they would benefit from this kind of relationship, but they don’t know how it starts or what they should be doing. Here is some guidance on finding a mentor:

Marriage Manifesto for MenEd Welch

I am responsible for my marriage. I take this from Paul’s discussion on marriage in Ephesians, which begins, “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church” (5:25).

Responsibility. Or as General Patton called it above, Duty. Ed, in his article, goes after relational laziness. Being responsible is taking an active and proactive manner in your marriage.

The Churchill School of Adulthood #7

Churchill’s energy, industry, and insatiable appetite for living formed one of the most noteworthy aspects of his character. Friends and colleagues described him as “incapable of inactivity,” and observed that “Winston has so many irons in the fire that the day is not nearly long enough.”

In this day and age of recreation and comfort seeking, we’re seeing men who unmarried and unemployed have replaced their working hours almost 1 to 1 with video games, the life of Winston Churchill stands out. He was a literary genius, politician, family man, prolific reader, bricklayer, landscaper, painter, airline pilot, farmer, fencer, hunter, racehorse breeder, polo player. Whew.

Listen

Wolf and Iron Podcast #10: Daniel McKim

This is a fun interview with Daniel McKim who is a Scottish Highland Games World Champion. Topics in the podcast range from what its like to be a BIG GUY, to the highland games, to being a Christian athlete, to the meat sweats.

Watch

With the Olympics this month, I’d thought I’d put in one of my favorite all time Olympic moments: Roulon Gardner beats Aleksandr Karelin for the Greco-Roman Wrestling Gold Medal in the 2000 Olympics. Up until that match Russian Karelin had not been defeated in 13 years and hadn’t given up a POINT in SIX years. I remember watching this match and thinking that there was no way Roulon could beat him.

 

Stay Sharp

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Awakened By Grace

Awakened By GraceIn that interlude between sleep and wakefulness, you reveal yourself to me. I find myself wrestling between wanting to get up and writing down what you’ve shown me, and lingering in that blissful state of intense focus where I see you magnified beyond what I can normally experience in my full wakefulness. Finally, I get up to write with half closed eyes, trying to maintain the state of awareness while I record my thoughts only partially conscious. Wanting to linger in that state to hold on to the richness of thought and experience that you’ve given me. Wanting it to continue, but realizing it will fade. I try to tease you back to my thoughts, but my temporal surroundings begin to intrude as I feverishly type my experience, even as it fades away.

What an awesome God you are. How I want to worship you with all my power, with all my senses, all of the gifts that you have given me. To glorify you, and to love you, and to seek you with all my heart, soul and mind.

And to recognize that the things of this world, the temptations of this world are but a pittance in comparison to knowing you. To loving you. To worshiping you.

Help me to use this experience to fuel my desire and love for you, but also to help me see others as you see them. To love them as you love them. To love my wife and children as you would have me love them, according to your good and perfect will.

And I know in my heart that this is just a glimpse of who you are. That I couldn’t possibly know and see all of you in your infinite nature. But I also know in my heart that I was made for you. Made for eternity, and nothing but you can truly satisfy me.

And now I recall similar experiences in community with other Christian brothers and sisters. Where your presence was palpable.

Especially brothers. Where iron sharpens iron. Where we spur each other on in exhortation and encouragement. Where we share our thoughts and wrestle with each other. Where we wrestle with you, with your word. Where we learn more about you through fellowship, and where you work in and through us to reveal yourself again to each of us.

And Lord, let my knowledge of you bring me back regularly to be refreshed, renewed, strengthened. But also let it help me to live my life here in this world with passion, joy, and courage, and with a renewed sense of purpose. Your purpose for me.

Full disclosure: I wrote this a few years ago, early in the morning as stated above. The memory is faded now, but even then I obviously had difficulty putting the experience into words. All I could describe was my reaction. But I was encouraged when I re-read it today, and I hope it encourages you too.

Grace and Peace!