Don’t pretend to walk in their shoes, meet them where they are, and walk alongside
God nudged me at a young age of 15 when I made a profession of faith, but as some boys will be boys, I wandered until He got my attention in my 20s. That is when I strived to fulfill my promise for the miraculous healing He provided me and focused more to surrender to His will. Since then it has been an interesting, intriguing and educational ride. My experience, both the ups and downs, the good and the bad, the wins and the defeats; I have learned that faith is much more about a relationship, and not religion. It was why we were created. God wanted a free willed relationship with us, humanity. God loved us so much, and sought that relationship, that He came to earth in that of Jesus Christ, suffered, died, and resurrected for us.
I preface with the above paragraph in that all my years being involved with or leading men’s ministry, this has been a common verse or theme that many utilize;
“Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another” – Proverbs 27:17
in which I most definitely like, have shared it, and has been a theme in my circles. However, there is something that should be kept in mind. When iron sharpens iron, sometimes sparks will fly, and one’s iron should already be sharp.
Speaking as a man with a few decades on me, I know men may often come together with some pride, hidden baggage, and possibly an over inflated ego. If you have led a men’s ministry, you know of what I am speaking. When applying the above verse and it’s meaning, and to be able to best sharpen another, at least one of the men should be rather sharp, well versed, wise, and most importantly empathetic. If not, sparks could fly, and not the good sparks that we prefer to see from Hebrews 10:24-25,
“And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near “
“Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.”
What do I mean you may ask? I am saying do not pretend to walk in another’s shoes and lecture them. No one can exactly walk in another’s shoes. Instead meet them where they are (whatever level of understanding), listen to them, strive to be empathetic, and walk alongside them. Demonstrate that you care, first in which is that you listen attentively, much more than you speak.
From wisdom, comes sharpness, and if anyone lacks wisdom as James says let them ask God for it, and God will provide it in abundance;
Those in my circles have heard me say something like,
“I am living, learning and serving, because if you are not learning and serving, you’re not living”
The thing is we should always be learning, seeking and working to become better human beings, whom strive to have a closer relationship with our Creator and His son, Jesus Christ. Jesus was the ideal example of how to love, teach, serve, and lead. Want to lead others, lead like Jesus. Want to teach others, teach like Jesus. Want to demonstrate generosity, kindness, and love, then live like Jesus. Want to be a strong man, a real man, then live like Jesus.
Leading others is about having a servants heart, understanding their walk, and then walking them to the cross as an alongsider. Being authentic, not fake, or being some sort of poser. It is also about being open and vulnerable yourself. So before you lecture someone, preach at someone, or chastise someone for their mistake(s), close your pie hole and truly listen to them. Seek first to truly understand them, their perspective, and most importantly their story. Then when you have built that trust, built into brotherhood, then seek to be understood from a place of empathy, and brotherly love.
Brotherhood must be built first, before Accountability
You cannot wear their shoes, nor know of the potential hell they have walked through, or still enduring, however you may love the hell out of them while demonstrating it in not just words, but actions and deeds, of what God, His Son, the Holy Spirit and your faith has done for you.
Yes, iron sharpens iron, but first make sure one’s iron is sharp, and that sharpness comes for God, from listening empathetically, hearing the Word of God, demonstrating the Word in actions, and deeds.