Sometimes we feel alone as Christians even in the midst of an assembly. We love the people and they love us yet we feel disconnected. We may wonder if the problem is with the group, oneself, or Christianity itself. I think this problem can affect Christian men in particular because we do tend to live solitary lives in the middle of a crowd.
“Send Me One, Lord”
Sometimes when we feel isolated we are primarily seeking another believer. You may have a believing spouse and great relatives and be part of a loving church. Within any body of believers, I think we are seeking another soul with whom we can grow in the Lord and be a co-worker in the faith. I am an introvert but not generally shy*. One can feel alone in a group of people no matter how much they love you: connected but yearning for a deeper bond with another Christian. When we find those Christians, we don’t feel as isolated.
Men typically have a hard time making that one connection. Richard Simmons III, who writes and speaks on men’s issues, said the average man has “less than one” close male friend (.1-.49 average). Our spouse or other family members cannot fill the position. Christian men need a Paul, Barnabas, Silas, or Timothy in our lives with whom we can work and worship, who is not dependent on us, who will keep us accountable, and sharpen us “as iron sharpens iron.” Seek that one among the believers and I believe your feelings of isolation will dissolve into feelings of acceptance.
How Do You Find Him?
To find a man who will be such a strength to you (or perhaps several men who provide different parts of what you need) would include the following:
- Pray for God to send you a fellow soldier. We pray to God for everything else we need, so much more should we pray for this. Jesus sent the disciples out two by two. It is important to have companions who can lift each other up, work together, and protect one another (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12–Read it!). The Lord’s cause would benefit from many Paul-Barnabas relationships.
- Don’t send a woman to do a man’s job. The need you have is for a man to help you navigate the waters and work with you in a way that you can relate to and that provides the unique camaraderie that exist among men working together as close friends. As good as your wife may be, and I have an incredible one, she cannot fulfill this need. She fulfills another important need in your life as companion, lover, helper, and friend. There is a different need you have that she is not equipped to meet so don’t put her in a position of failure by making her fill a need that she cannot meet. A wise wife will recognize this need in her man and support the relationships without jealousy and a wise man will make sure his wife’s needs are not neglected to spend time with male friends.
- Look for what you can give, not what you will receive. Don’t look for someone upon whom you can become dependent and needy. This will not supply the need. There are times when we might rely more heavily on our brothers and sisters during difficult times, but a person who is only a taker, who is always needy, becomes a cause, not a friend. Find someone who also needs you and your strengths and one with whom you can accomplish more through joint effort. If you are looking for someone to teach, guide, and instruct you, you are seeking a mentor or teacher (which is a good relationship to have). But you also need a fellow soldier, an equal, that you do not feel the need to lead or carry.
- Find someone trustworthy and strong in their faith. This friend and brother will be one with whom you will share struggles and ask perplexing questions. Can you trust this person with your doubts and emotions? Can you trust that what you share with them will not be broadcast to others? Can you be trusted with their secrets? You must find someone who will not use what you share with them against you but will help you find spiritual strength and solutions that are based on God’s word. You need someone you can pray with and who will hold you accountable to God’s will. You need someone who will love you in good and bad times and will fight to save your soul. This may greatly narrow the potential men to be such a friend but the one you find will be worth more than all you own.
- Make it a priority. I have not always done this and it has been to my detriment. This is an important need. You are not weak nor lacking something. God created us this way. We have a need that is fulfilled by our spouse and children and a need that is filled by having a godly man to work with in our Lord’s kingdom. The earlier you work on meeting this need the better prepared you will be to face the inevitable trials of life within your family, professional life, and as a Christian.
*My introversion: public speaking and talking with a group of people I know is no problem but it wearies me over time. I gain strength from quiet and periods of isolation and spend a lot of time “in my head.” I write a lot about my introversion at my www.rhodesdavis.com site.