Do you have close friends that you can trust completely? Not just people you hang out with, go to football games with, or shop with, but real friends you know you can rely on when things get really tough?
Last summer I went through one of the most spiritually dry periods of my life. I felt overwhelmed, filled with anxiety, and truly afraid of failing my family. I felt like I was in a deep dark well, and when I looked up I saw nothing. Nobody looking down at me. Not even God.
Not that God wasn’t there, I just didn’t feel like He was there while I was going through this.
The problem was I didn’t have any close male friends to share my struggles with. And I have no one to blame but myself. My pride wouldn’t let me share my fears and anxiety. That would be admitting weakness. Heaven forbid!
Unfortunately, most men I’ve talked with about this have the same problem.
But God taught me through this that everyone of us needs these types of relationships not just for the tough times, but to do life with.
We were not created to do life alone.
Jesus modeled this for us with his “Inner Circle” of men. Peter, James, and John were allowed a closeness the other disciples weren’t (the Transfiguration (Mark 9:2-12); in the Garden of Gethsemane (Matthew 26:36-44), just to mention a few).
There are at least three things to consider before choosing our “Inner Circle”:
- ASK: I have to willing to give my inner circle permission to “ask” the tough questions about what’s going on in my life, and also be willing to be completely honest with my answers, even if it makes me look weak or stupid.
- CARE: I have to truly care about these men at a deeper level than our culture is accustomed to–I need to love them more than brothers. Bottom line: if I don’t truly care about them, how will I know when they are really hurting.
- ENCOURAGE: I have to commit to taking the time and energy needed each day to not only pray for them specifically, but find ways to encourage them individually. Maybe it’s a text or a phone call or an email. And it definitely needs to be face-to-face a couple of times a month if possible.
There are definitely other things to consider before building yours, but this should get you started.
I’m working on mine now because I want to be prepared for the next “wilderness”. How do I know another wilderness is coming? Because Jesus tells us it is. But he also reminds us in the very next sentence that there really is a happy ending…
“I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” John 16:33 (NLT)