Deep calls to deep. By going deep we are not referring to knowledge. Rather, we are talking about going deeper in our relationshipw with one another. Developing deeper relationships with other men. "Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another." It is only as we learn to openly and confidently bare our souls and open our lives fully to our brothers that we can learn to go deeper.
Each week I'm meeting with a small group of men who are learning to become more and more real with each other. To know each other and to be truly known by each other. We put aside our desire to "look good" and replace it with being real and to be genuinely accepted. Our masks fall away in an environment of genuine acceptance. No secrets means thats there is nothing in my life that I'm afraid to share with my brothers in our group. I'm not required to share anything, but I want to share my life with them. We can safely and openly share our lives in a spirit of confidentially*: what is said in the group stays in the group.
There are usally 3 to 5 men in our group. When I first started going to the group we each were given ten minutes apiece, the facilitator started a timer when we each took our turn. This is our time, no one is to interrupt, except if needed, to ask questions to help clarify a point. However, as we've grown closer and more respectful of each other, we no longer have a timer. We also have a little more interaction, but are still respectul of letting the speaker speak.
- We each share about the things going on in us and with us.
- We share about our deepest hurts and shame.
- We share our joys and sorrows
- We share our successes and our failures.
- We do not whine and we make no excuses for our behavior or our failures.
- We each take full responsibility for our actions and consequences.
- We ask for advice and give advice.
- We offer encouragement to those who are struggling.
- We share openly and honestly with one another. None of us condemns or passes judgement on anyone in the group.
- We are all learning to live our life as children of the most high.
- We put relationship before doctrine (which varies from church to church and person to person).
- We each endeavor to live a life of integrety and honor as we strive to follow in the footsteps of the Son of God.
As we share our lives, our pains, our shame, and our guilt with one another, within a context of deep love and acceptance, we are freed from those heavy burdens of our past and begin to walk in the glorious freedom of this new life.
For many years I've gone to countless Bible studies, thinking to find relationships with other godly men. Mostly, what I got was Bible talk, but not much relationship. I rarely got to know anybody very well. I never experienced "all men will know you are my disciples by your love for one another."
Well, in this group, this is the first time I've ever began to develop relationships of real depth, and began to know the others in the group in a deeper way than ever before. This is not a typical book or topical study. Rather we share our lives with one another. The men in the group are the topic and the focus of the group.
Also, this is not a prayer group**. The primary focus of the group is to be real with one another, to share ourselves with one another, to love and to be loved be others in the group. Believe me, as we become more and more real with one another, there is plenty for each of us to share about our lives each week.
In a group like this, it is important that each person gets to speak during their turn. Very talkative people are to be respectful of others and restrain themselves and not take the time that belongs to others in the group.
*Confidential, except what we are required by law or safety to disclose (i.e. crimes, intended harm to onself or another, etc.)
**But some people can pray if they want to or are felt led to pray. If we pray at all, only those who want to pray will pray, and only for the specific needs that were shared.