1 Mar 2015 by Jason Law CM –
Have you ever noticed the way society seems to squeeze us into moulds that we have to carry with us throughout our lives? It shapes our expectations and judgment of others, but it also shapes the way we define ourselves and make decisions. When you think of men, what is the usual picture of them?
Due to this, what I am about to say actually take some courage. The fact of the matter is, despite the façade, men are actually equally (or maybe even more so) vulnerable as the women. The difference is for many of us, we have not learnt how to deal with our emotions and insecurities in an open manner, instead pushing them down and hoping that no one notices.
While women are relationship-oriented and find joy in companionship and social activities, men are more task- or object-oriented, finding comfort from cars, gadgets, football, or some other object. Where women enjoy shopping as a social activity, for men the soccer match is what is important, and most men find it a hassle to invest too much into relationships. There are probably more lonely men than women in this world.
But it need not be this way. In Genesis, we see very clearly that God intended men to be relationship-oriented. Adam walked closely with God. When God created Eve, it was because He saw that Adam was lonely. God told Adam to multiply his descendants on Earth and to take good care of it. This all speaks of relationship.
The DUMC’s Men Alive February session was a discussion about the power of community and why it matters even to men. The concept of a Mentoring-Accountability Group (MAG) was introduced. What this concept basically involves is the formation of a God-oriented group for men, in which each member is accountable to each other for their lives and those of their family. It provides an avenue for men to discuss about issues that they may not be able to with their wives or children, such as those related to work or their personal or spiritual struggles that they may not want their family to worry about.
The members in a MAG serve as comrades, helping each other to stay true to an open path with God. Members from 3 MAGs shared about their experiences in these groups, and how many of them find it such a support to have someone walking with them in the issues of life, sometimes discussing about interests such as hobbies, or seeking advice and help with technical issues like car repair, but primarily coming together to pray or help each other grow spiritually.
Brother Keong, the coordinator of Men Alive at DUMC shared that it is a myth that men are islands. However, for an MAG to exists, it requires someone with an initiative to set it up, and there are many approaches for doing so.
Pastor Chris Kam guided the Men Alive attendees to examine the reason why men often find it so difficult to come together in accountability groups with others. Many reasons were given, a major one being the fear of vulnerability in front of others, but it all boils down to the intentionality as well as time-management factor. Most of us know how to manage our time according to priorities. The problem is not about knowing but about intentionality. How intentional are we as men about being transparent and accountable to others besides ourselves?
A man truly becomes one when he learns to take responsibility over his own life as well as those that God had given to him to care for. The real battle for men comes in learning how to do this, and for many it may be a life-long process but it is an important one. A major factor for family breakdown is the lack of a responsible leader at home. Pastor Chris shared that the chief purpose MAGs are formed ought to be about putting out the message of responsibility.
The Men Ministries in churches must be a ministry to men and not just a ministry about men. There must be intentionality to them, and every male member of a church must be regarded as a member in these ministries. Members in discipleship initiatives like Men Alive must be trained and discipled so that they are able to help train and disciple others in turn. The tagline of Men Alive at DUMC is ‘No man left behind’.
Pastor Chris communicated that we are living in a crucial time where discipleship is extremely important. There is a vital need for men to follow up and guide especially the younger generations in spiritual growth. Men need to learn to expand our vision beyond what we are accustomed to. The younger ones need men who are able to help them understand how to handle issues of life, through encouragement in personal life stories.
Discipleship initiatives must be approached beyond consumer mentality, and we need to provide people with what is essential in their lives and not necessarily simply what they want. Intentionality comes in treating each other as real people and a MAG would have failed if all the young believers see is a room full of the stereotypical stern emotionless “Asian father”.
While many men are not comfortable about transparency, we need to break through our comfort zone. Pastor Chris communicated that in the account of the Fall in Genesis, we read about how Adam and Eve suddenly felt ashamed and aware of their nakedness after eating the forbidden fruit. This has much significance on the spiritual level, but part of it is the alienation that came into humanity. The devil wants us to struggle alone to survive in our pride.
Pastor Chris shared that we have a true friend if we have someone who is able and ready to help us when we really need it, even at late hours of the night. Real friends bring meaning to life, even for men, and there is an importance in fellowship.
What is important to us determines the way we use our time. Pastor Chris encouraged us to have time for things that are important to us, especially our families. Ultimately, the MAGs are not meant to replace other groups like care cells and families but they are an important add-on to these groups. Men Alive DUMC provides many resources including testimonies and articles on their Facebook page.
Men Alive meet one Saturday every month. The next sessions are as follows:
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