The men's ministry hosts a monthly breakfast and we recently started a series called
Fighting Old Battles with New Tactics. The idea we're exploring is that guys get stuck in ruts that keep us from maturing into the men that God is calling us to be, so we sometimes need to step back, reassess, and try a different approach. This past Saturday we discussed relationships. Specifically, we looked at relational difficulties as 'old battles' in need of 'new tactics.' The following is a recap:
We are created in the image of our Triune God and part of imaging him is to be in relationship. As the biblical story unfolds, we see God relating in a particular way to his people and then calling his people to go and do likewise, and this story culminates in the person of Jesus. Jesus gives us the fullest picture of who God is and how he relates to us, and he calls us to follow him in this way of relating.
When facing the old battle of relational struggles, we need to recover our primary tactic of imitating God who is most clearly seen in Jesus. Further, there are several secondary tactics to consider that are relevant to men in our culture.
- Choose to relate by imitating God in the way of Jesus. We need to practice framing relational difficulties first by how God relates to us. Offer to others the grace, forgiveness, and mercy that we have received; relate with humility, patience, kindness, gentleness, and self-control; foster peace and pursue reconciliation.
- Be proactive and initiate. Be the first to take the good step that is needed in relationship. This requires intentional and active participation. We need to develop self-awareness about the ways that fear and shame hold us back, and how we avoid by medicating, escaping, or isolating. Then counter by intentionally and courageously pressing with the strength the Lord provides.
- Find a brother. Develop at least one friendship with a mature Christian man who will support your relational growth (and then develop another). We need the support of like-minded brothers if we hope to grow in relationships.
- Own your stuff. Take ownership; choose to focus on what you can own, not on what the other person did or didn't do. Ask 'what did I do to contribute to a relational difficulty?'
- Exercise mindfulness. Learn to pause and prayerfully reflect on what is happening in a difficult relationship. This is counter to our point-and-click, instant-everything culture. In exercising mindfulness, we slow things down to be more self-aware of our role in a difficult relationship.
- Press into relational growth through Resurrection resources. There are plenty of resources available at Rez to deepen our relational formation. Some examples include Groups, prayer cells, the next men's book discussion, upcoming couples conflict class in April/May and so on.
- Tend to wounds. Some of us have deep wounds and we need to intentionally pursue healing to continue growing in relationships. Consider finding a Rez-approved therapist, making a pastoral care appointment, or a healing prayer appointment.
Questions for Reflection
- What relational difficulty are you experiencing that you feel is most pressing? How long has it been a struggle Why is it so hard?
- What is an aspect of imitating Christ-likeness in relationships that you find hardest to consistently practice? Why is that? How might you take a step to grow in that?
- What old tactics have you been stuck in regarding relationship difficulties? Of the above mentioned tactics, which do you feel you need to practice? How might you practically step into this?