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Men Walking Through Their Own Brokenness

Thirty guys from all over the country joined us here at Adventures for a men’s retreat. Most of us are empty nest dudes. We’ve raised our kids and wish we had a “do-over”, so we became coaches. When we shared with the male coaches this past weekend, at the very end, the response is not wha…
By Seth Barnes
By Seth Barnes

Thirty guys from all over the country joined us here at Adventures for a men’s retreat. Most of us are empty nest dudes. We’ve raised our kids and wish we had a “do-over”, so we became coaches.

When we shared with the male coaches this past weekend, at the very end, the response is not what you may have expected. Here we’ve been following Jesus most of our lives. We’ve raised our own kids and we’ve walked out life in hard places.

And yet…most guys felt inadequate. Most guys felt like, “I’m not enough.”

We poured oil on them and prayed for them and my point was, “That’s exactly the point. You are not enough. Therefore, if Jesus doesn’t show up, you are toast. And that radical dependence on Him should set you free.”

A number of years ago I met Troy Magnum, a hotshot software department. manager from NC. After that, I walked with Troy through some tough times in his marriage.

I love his reflection on the difficult parts of his marriage. A lot of men are right where he was. We feel inadequate and poorly prepared. We know we’re supposed to be “more than conquerors,” but we feel weak.

Here’s his confession on his blog:

I was 34. I had woken up from another terrible night sleep on the couch at a college friend’s house. It was 4:45am and I had to get to my second job of driving taxis by 5:30am. My wife and I were separated. I had two little ones, a seminary degree, a failed attempt as a pastor and a very strained marriage to greet me in the mirror that morning. Nothing but broken relationships surrounded me and it was the beginning of a rude awakening in my 30’s.

I came into my 20’s with guns blazing, looking to make my mark, leaning on talent, skill, looks, intellect, physical prowess, determination and willpower to move forward. I had a lot of ministry responsibilities for the young adults at our church. I recall an older man who pulled me aside and asked why I was so demanding and thankless towards my other small group leaders. 

I remember responding in an unguarded moment, that no one took care of my heart so why should I treat my leaders any different. Like many young leaders, I was unaware of how much brokenness infected my good desires to serve God. 

I was not awake to the fact that how you treat others is the litmus test of your relationship with God. “For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen“ – 1 John 4:20

During my 20’s and early 30’s, I thought I had everything I needed to change the world. The world’s problems, the unreached people groups, the injustices done to oppressed people – I thought I could impact them all. I was idealistic. I had the passion to make a difference and thought I had all that was needed (intellectually, emotionally, relationally, etc..) to make an impact and that the opportunities would come easily.

The world was not daunting because I thought it was a lot smaller and simpler than it actually is. I thought I was a lot larger and “more together” than I actually was. You could say my view of the world was all about me and what I could do. Much like this picture:



As Micheal Thompson of zoweh.org says, “if the story is all about you, then you are living in way too small a story.”

I was surprised and stunned when life did not go as smoothly as I thought it would. I see that same surprise in younger men when I talk with them. When I finished Seminary, I was in for a rude awakening. I was unaware of how much pride, brokenness and ambition I had mixed in with my good Godly desires. I was in for some long years in learning about humility and the importance of relationships over accomplishments.

As an older man, I have sought out community over being the lone ranger. My personal view is that guys in their 20’s and early 30’s, tend to be self absorbed and avoid real consequences of that behavior in the short term.

Yet, when they start to take that same cavalier approach with a pretty young lady who calls them hubby, or children who call them daddy, or in growing roles of influence at work, church, the ball field, or other social settings….the way they do life all starts to catch up to them. They start, all of a sudden, looking in the mirror beyond their own self-importance, rugged good looks, abilities, desires, etc… to see the ugly side of themselves that is negatively affecting others. They start to wake up. No one is immune.

My view of the world is quite a bit different from when I was younger. From where I sit today, I still have all my idealism but I have been sobered in the best sense of that word. I have dropped my naïveté. I have come to believe the scripture that says without Jesus i can do nothing. The below picture best captured my view now:


 


Folks, in Jesus, we are enough. If we’ll just get out of the way, He will be made strong in us.

Do you know men like that? Please pray for them. 

Men in America are in a bad way. Pray for all of us. We want to step up. We want to fight the righteous fight for the Kingdom, but we have to make our way through a lot of pain to do it.

Comments (19)

  • Oops, my first response was supposed to have hearts, not question marks! Sorry! I appreciate this post! It was so good!

  • I love this, thank you. What’s funny is I came to a training for beauty for ashes vividly feeling what you described in the first paragraph– wanting a do-over, wanting to know where “I fit, or my life role” now as an empty nester…. but as a single divorced female not a man that you write about. Women too have a sense of “regrets” of previous life choices and how those choices had consequences. I originally contacted adventures in missions when at a “fork” in life/career at age 54 about world race and kingdom journeys –desiring to sincerely make life route change (too old) because of an old adage “if you do what always have done, will get what always have gotten”. My desire was for a radical life change while being totally dependent on God’s leading. I talked with Carol Pitts at a breakfast (in passing)— who encouraged my spirit…who said God has a place for us still, a work for us to do. What a blessing she was to me in that moment, a true soul encourager. I don’t know what God has in store now but please know your writings encourage more than just men at this stage of life’s journey! Thank you!

  • Wow. This is true for women too. I also thought I was more together than I was. I stepped out for God with all this passion and fire for God in my twenties and felt like I got swallowed whole. I didn’t realize how much I was doing for God but by myself without Him because I didn’t know that’s what I was doing. It was so rough for quite a while.

    I had some rough 30s, learning and seeking and growing in my mid 40s (which I finally allowed God to do what only He could do) and now in my early 50s, after a lot of HIM….I’m about to step out and do it again….WITH HIM, FOR HIM, ABOUT HIM and ONLY HIM!!!!

    I’m thankful today for His patience, LONG suffering and most of all His LOVE. He truly IS the great Redeemer!

    Thank you for sharing! If someone could have helped and guided me “back then” it could have helped so very much. Men or women…..we can’t do it without Him. We must pour into the young men and women to help them and guide them properly as they journey with God.

  • Dang, Seth. This is another winner. I love that you keep hitting on deep truth.

    Oh, I wanna be like you when I grow up!

    • Ha – well, thanks, Jim. Actually, though, we’re both in trouble, because my ambition when I grow up is to be like you!

  • Thanks for sharing! It’s good to know as a man I’m not the only one who struggles with this! Loved the part about not doing it alone, recently I’ve been surrounding myself with some good men and it has really begun to make a difference! Love your heart and passion Seth!

  • Thank you Seth. The first step is always acknowledging powerlessness. Then we have to get to that place where we speak from our scars not our wounds. It is a journey to be sure and the greatest thing we can offer others is “presence”, good questions, attentive listening and prayer with words of encouragement. Proud of your path. Lets end well.

  • Seth-
    More great insight. All great ideas can be expressed on a napkin! The message is the strength in humility. So many of us men learn this great lesson the hard way, and late in life. We think (and society reinforces) “being conquerors” means being large and having others serve our needs (big me, little world). It’s not until the world knocks us around a bunch, and we reach for Jesus’ example in our struggles, that we discover the the REAL power and conquering comes in humbly serving God, serving others (little me, big world).

    “Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up” James 4:10
    Men deciding to grow up are men deciding to humbly serve…..
    -Andy Allen

  • Hi Seth…friend of thirty years. I agree “men are in a bad way” and also am extremely convicted we not give a free pass to women who are as messed up as we may find ourselves to be. There is a time to stop “falling on swords” and identify those being wielded even in subtle ways by women. Only Christ heals us.

  • Hi Seth…friend of thirty years. I agree “men are in a bad way” and also am extremely convicted we not give a free pass to women who are as messed up as we may find ourselves to be. There is a time to stop “falling on swords” and identify those being wielded even in subtle ways by women. Only Christ heals us.

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Seth Barnes

I'm motivated to join God in his global reclamation project. He's on the move, setting his sons and daughters free from their places of captivity. And he's partnering with those of us who have been freed to go and free others.



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