No man is an island,
Entire of himself.
"I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.” (Revelation 22:13)
Death may not have the victory but it does have its say. Moses asked God to teach him "to number his days so he might gain a heart of wisdom" (Psalm 90:1-12). To be wise, we must know our limits. Our limit, simply stated, is that we are not self-sufficient. We do not have the personal resources to achieve eternal perpetual motion. And, sometimes, it is easy to feel we don't have the resources for any motion at all.
Yet men are called to be strong (1 Corinthians 16:13) and to use that strength to bring value and life to the world around us. Every man lives with this problem: "The world around me needs strength that I do not have."
Men are continually gnawed by that impossibility. But the impossibility has its merits. It moves humble men to seek an external source of strength and it smashes proud men until they are humble.
The proud man isn't necessarily cocky, he's just deluded. Like a modern prospector standing in Spring Creek panning for gold, the proud man pans for strength within himself. Whatever he finds will be minimal at best, if anything at all – and it will
run out. His demise is a tragic scene. With his world in disarray and his soul and body withering away, the proud man continues his droning mantra:
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.
William Ernest Henley
Thankfully, this is not the only way. God gives grace to the humble. To the one who wisely recognizes his limits and upward cries "Help!", God graciously gives strength. This arrives through his Spirit and his Spirit uses many means. One of those means is other men. Men are strengthened by every "Once more unto the breach, dear friends"
and crushed by every "Et tu, Brute?" Therefore, the effect of our lives depends, in part, on how we relate to one another as men.
This year's Spring Training for Men focused on those relationships. In "Man-to-Man,"
we examined the lives of men throughout the Bible to see how masculine relationships bring strength through encouragement, training, teaming, sharpening and commissioning.
As we considered David and Jonathan, Elijah and Elisha, Paul and Timothy, Paul and Peter and Moses and Joshua, one thing became clear: Men bring strength to other men by revealing the other necessary component of wisdom, namely, the fear of the Lord (Psalm 111:10). Our relationships point to God who is the Alpha and Omega, the only self-sufficient one. We can be strong because God is with us.
The proud man foolishly lives as his own Alpha and Omega.
His strength is sapped bearing that weight. Godly friends and mentors protect him from that and encourage him to see God who does the heavy lifting. Only in this understanding does a man become strong. It is the Christian paradox: life via death and strength via weakness. The man who seeks his own glory finds death, but the man who does all things to the glory of God finds life and strength.
The world tells us in a thousand different ways that the bigger we become, the freer we will be. The richer, the more beautiful, and the more powerful we grow, the more security, liberty, and happiness we will experience. And yet, the gospel tells us just the opposite, that the smaller we become, the freer we will be. This may sound at first like bad news, but as we will see, it could not be better news!
Tullian Tchividjian, Glorious Ruin: How Suffering Sets You Free
We began this year’s Spring Training with a video that serves as an excellent popular example of this. Listen for the subtle (and certainly imperfect) ways each man calls the other to be small and yet acts as a representative of God's strength-infusing words: "I am with you."
Men, don't be that prospector. Look to the hills: Where does your help come from? The LORD, your maker, and he is sending his voice through the men around you. Find them. Commit to them. And may God's Spirit inhabit our relationships and graciously give us the courage and strength to be the backbone of his church and her mission in the world.