Loneliness has been such an epidemic that the UK created a cabinet position for a “Minister for Loneliness.” And if it was a problem before the pandemic, how much worse has it become?
How do you come out of a year and a half of forced isolation and reengage society?
Guys are infamous for not forming great connections with other guys. We don’t like to admit that it doesn’t come as natural as it looks like it does for our wives. But God said it is not good for man to be alone. Even with all the blessings life has to offer, it is incomplete if we don’t connect with others.
Why does it matter?
There is no discipleship without relationship, and we are called to make disciples. Josh Franklin, Senior Pastor of Mount Vernon Baptist Church, shares in Episode 62 of our Tailgate Series on the Podcast that every man needs a Paul, and every man needs a Timothy. That’s at least two spiritual roles in each of our lives that need to be filled by other men if we are intent on growing the Kingdom.
We were made for community. It’s not complicated, but it takes courage to take a few action steps.
- Pray. We have not because we ask not. It’s OK for us to pray for someone to walk through life with.
- Observe. Ask God to give us eyes to see and ears to hear. Someone else may be looking for a connection as well.
- Take courage to act. I’m convinced that we are paralyzed by fear, so most men continue to meander through life without the benefit of helpful connections. Be courageous to offer to buy a guy a cup of coffee.
If you need a Paul in your life, it might sound a little like…
- “I see you have a teenage daughter. Mine is only 11, but I’m struggling to connect with her. Could I buy you a cup of coffee to hear how you’re navigating the drama of the teenage years? I bet you’ve got some wisdom that would be helpful to me.”
- “I’ve noticed the pace and activity level of your family. It looks a lot like ours. I’m running hard to keep up. How are you making it all work for your crew? Could I buy you a cup of coffee and ask you how you manage it all?
- “I just got offered a job promotion and then got an offer to join a family business. I know you’re in a family business. Would you mind if I buy you a cup of coffee so I can ask you a few questions about working with family?”
- “My wife is pregnant, and I don’t feel like I’m anywhere near ready to be a dad. You’ve got a couple of kids. Would you have time for me to ask you a few questions over coffee soon?”
If you are in the life stage where you have much to offer a Timothy…
- “I’ve noticed you have a preteen daughter. My daughter is 16 now, and I struggled to connect with her. My wife helped me with some wisdom that I’d love to share with you so you don’t make the same mistakes I made. Could I buy you a cup of coffee?”
- “Wow, COVID is fading, and the family schedule craziness is ramping up again. We’re learning how to say no to some things so we can say yes to more important opportunities, but it’s been a struggle. Looks like you guys are facing some of the same questions. I’d love to hear how you’re processing this. Would you be interested in grabbing a cup of coffee?”
- “I think our wives were talking, and I heard you have a career decision to make. I work with my dad in a family business, so I’ve got some perspective on that. I’d love to hear what’s on the table for you and how you’re processing it. Working with family is awesome, but I’ve learned a few lessons about myself and my family. Would you be interested in a conversation over a cup of coffee?”
- “I know you’re about to become a new dad! I don’t know how you’re doing, but I felt like I was in WAY over my head. It was tough at first but we’re making it work. Being a dad is the most amazing experience! I wish someone had given me a heads up on a few things though. I’d love to buy you a cup of coffee and share a few things I’ve learned in the past few years.”
The good news is, it works even if you don’t drink coffee!
Here’s one thing NOT to do. Don’t reach out to another guy and say, “My life stinks, I’d like to tell you about it.” Anyone in their right mind, including you, will run away from life-suckers like that. We all need to learn from others’ experience and wisdom. So when you reach out, be interested in the other guy and do so with a posture that esteems the other person. This is a Philippians 2:3-4 opportunity.
Finally, don’t give up. This isn’t easy, but it’s worth it. Keep working on connecting with at least one other guy until God brings you someone to walk through life with. A taste of loneliness can be used for good if we allow it to prompt us to lean into God and others.
“Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.” Philippians 2:3-4