My name’s Luke and I recently got back from a trip to Nicaragua. This was my first trip with FX so going into it, I didn’t really know what to expect. There were many things that I learned on the trip that dealt directly with the people we met and the ministry we took part in at the retreat, but I’d like to touch on something that I learned on a more personal level.
What struck me at the beginning of our team meetings, was the openness and transparency that was cultivated between the team members from the very first team meeting. We openly shared our concerns and thoughts that ranged from excitement and readiness, to uneasiness and feelings of personal condemnation. At one point, I shared about some anxiety I was having about leading a session in a completely different culture with a language barrier. At once, some of the team members offered encouragement and wisdom toward my concerns. Afterward, I felt much more at peace with what was to come and empowered to embrace the challenge.
Because we had established this as the team dynamic, it allowed us to be severely honest and open during the trip. There were a few times we came under spiritual attack but because we had established a culture of transparency, we were able to openly address the issues. In a different situation, those issues may never have never been addressed resulting in a foothold for the enemy. I found this not only beneficial for the trip, but also for us as men.
I feel as though our culture disallows us to be open and honest as men which results in hidden footholds and strongholds given to our enemy. When secret thoughts or emotions are given a place to establish themselves in our hearts, they rot us from the inside out. I’ve seen and heard of many men being destroyed in this way.
Early on in Ephesians 5, Paul writes about exposing the things of darkness into the light. It’s important to bring those silent issues into the light and to address them. As they are in the light, they begin to lose their power and influence over us. Part of this is done with a culture of openness within a group of men but the other part is actually initiating that on your own. It takes courage and vulnerability to come before a brother and to ask for help.
One of the guys on the trip really encouraged me to initiate the conversation when I was dealing with anxious thoughts or emotions. He would ask, “What is it that you need?” And as I would think about that question, more times than not, it was simply encouragement. He’d then tell me that it wasn’t a bad or inconveniencing thing to ask for encouragement. It’s necessary.
We must encourage and build each other up, strengthening each other as men for we were never meant to do life alone. We must have the courage and vulnerability to ask for what we need from each other and to stand together as brothers in arms.