I have been blessed to have a close group of men that made a commitment to each other in 1995 to meet once a year to renew our friendships, hold each other accountable and have fun. Every year since 1995 we have met the last weekend in September in Estes Park. The first few years everything was “extreme”. We would hike, rock climb, and go way beyond my comfort zone on a mountain bike. Following dinner, we would each take turns in the spot light where we would share and be interrogated by the others sometimes up to two hours. Thankfully, as we mellowed with age we settled into a weekend where we lingered around the breakfast table until 10:00, took shorter hikes and spent more time at the Starbucks. Each year we rotated where one of the men would lead a discussion topic that would be picked up at breakfast, on hikes, and over coffee. In the evenings we would take some time to review the last year and discuss how we were doing in with our marriage, family, career, physical and spiritual areas of our lifes. Direct and tough questions are still on the table particularly if one of us seems to be getting off track. It is a great time to break away from work, family, activities and the cities where we live. We generally do not see or communicate much between the meetings, but quickly reconnect the bonds that have been built over the years. We have seen each other marry, have families, and see our children grow up. During this time we have all gone through some rough spots and have had each other to call, pray or visit during challenging times. When I took a job for the wrong reasons and left after a year with a need to get back into a career that was a good fit for me I did not hesitate to call my friend Blake in Aspen Colorado. I flew to Aspen and he put me up in a 5 star hotel, took the better part of 3 days off from work, and walked me through a book and program entitled Living the life you were meant to live by Tom Patterson. After 3 days of exploring my life and covering the hotel room wall with butcher paper I left with a clear path that has led to a great career. At any time that I need prayer, encouragement or need some advice I am can count on any of these men to be there. Proverbs 27:17 says “As iron sharpens iron, so does one man sharpen another”. Don’t be a lone wolf. There will come a day that you need support, you need someone to challenge you and ask you tough questions or someone to encourage you and pray with you. Without this support we are subject to making wrong decisions with potentially devastating consequences.
In my own family I have been working out rites of passage with my kids and developing this as part of my book. During the last year we discussed inviting our kids as they reach 16 to join us. In preparation we committed to pray for each others kids specifically and by name so that when it was their turn we could authenticate the experience with the truth that this group of men has been praying for “this” for you for many years. I can only imagine the impact it would have been to me to join a sacred group of men like this who have known each other for years and have been praying specifically for me. To be recognized and accepted by this as a fellow man and to be challenged by this group of men to be set apart for God’s work and to live a life that follows the truth of Jesus Christ would be a life changing experience. To have a close friend and to be a close friend to someone is one of life’s greatest privileges. If you are like many men that are going it alone STOP. Find one friend or a group of friends that you can earnestly commit to and to support. Your life and your family will benefit greatly.