Category Archives: 20 Lessons Friends

Epic Friendship

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Epic Friendship

For some reason, it was just easier making friends when we were younger, wasn't it? We were less presumptive and more carefree. We judged people less by their status, accomplishments, and influence. We more readily laughed and were mesmerized by simple activities. Everything was a new adventure, and it was always better with a friend.

Great friendships make children better, but they make men better too. When we are young, we discover this, but as we get older for some reason, we forget.

In the Old Testament, we are very aware that David had at least one very good friend — Jonathan. The decade of David's friendship was perhaps the most challenging, and he needed this friend to help him through. But after Jonathan was killed at war, there was another friend who stepped in — Nathan. Nathan was not so much the confidant with who he had chemistry, like Jonathan. He was more the counselor who held him accountable. But still, this friendship-counselor relationship shaped him during his years as King of Israel.

These two men had three meetings that shaped our understanding of their relationship. Each has a remarkable lesson that led to an astounding impact on the kingdom and these two men.

One | The First Move: Alliance

Now when the king lived in his house and the Lord had given him rest from all his surrounding enemies, the king said to Nathan the prophet, "See now, I dwell in a house of cedar, but the ark of God dwells in a tent. (2 Samuel 7:1-2)

Now when David lived in his house, David said to Nathan the prophet, "Behold, I dwell in a house of cedar, but the ark of the covenant of the Lord is under a tent." And Nathan said to David, "Do all that is in your heart, for God is with you." (1 Chronicles 17:1-2)

This is one of those moments two men of God in two different roles came together for kingdom impact. At the end of it all, we know that David was prevented from building the house of the Lord as his hands were bloodied by war. But this did not stop David from doing everything short of building the temple. He gathered the resources, the plans, the men, and handed the baton to his son, Solomon.

In these verses, two great men, one a king and one a prophet, form an alliance. They are allies of spiritual proportions. David realizes that he has enough. He looks up at his success, security, stock, and says — enough. And David dreams with a Nathan about what should be done solely for the Lord.

This interaction is essential because it teaches us two things. First, the importance of spiritual alliances with other Christian brothers. Second, the power of two men discovering the futility of their fading glory and the importance of seeking God's glory.

Two | The Second Move: Confrontation

But the thing that David had done displeased the Lord. And the Lord sent Nathan to David. (2 Samuel 11:27-12:1)

Well, friendship is not always easy. There are hard things we face and need to address. This moment has to be one of the top five ultimate friendship confrontations of the Bible, trumped only by Jesus' strong words to Peter — "Get behind me Satan."

The context of this confrontation is the adulterous sin of David with Bethsheba and the consequential cover-up. This one sin led to many others and a massive cover-up that David thought he was beyond. However, he had not pulled one over on God. So God instructs Nathan to confront him about the sin and cover-up.

This is never an easy moment for friends. But this is what great friends do; they care enough to guide us toward Godliness and away from catastrophe. They want what God wants for us and have the courage to tell us "no" and sometimes "get right with God." Nathan does that here in 2 Samuel 12. It's worth reading.

And just when you think David could win any and every battle, this was one he was sure to lose. It's a disappointing moment for David, but one he handles well. His response to Nathan is this — "I have sinned against the LORD." (2 Samuel 12:13)

Friends have power. Never underestimate the importance of the care-frontation.

Three | The Third Move: Counsel

 Then Nathan said to Bathsheba the mother of Solomon, "Have you not heard that Adonijah the son of Haggith has become king and David our lord does not know it?  Now therefore come, let me give you advice, that you may save your own life and the life of your son Solomon. (1 Kings 1:11-12)

Toward the latter part of David's life, David's son Adonijah planned to forcibly take the kingdom from his father and set himself up as king. Nathan rushed to David with Bathsheba at his side to inform him of the betrayal and discuss options as his joint counsel.

There is no doubt this is not an easy moment for all three of them — a king and father is betrayed, a wife and mother is at odds, and a friend and a counselor feels concern for the future of the nation. But here is the best part, they are in it together. Seeking God, his wisdom, and the best path forward, they are not alone. The resolution is to appoint Solomon as king and set up him quickly before Adonijah takes his move too far. And the plan works, but the results are still disturbing and heartbreaking. Eventually, Solomon has Adonijah executed.

We all need a man like this in our life. A man with who we have a spiritual alliance, who can confront and counsel us. David was better for this. From this relationship came the Temple of the Lord, the repentance of a King, and the establishment of King Solomon for the next generation. Just consider the impact of not having a Nathan in your life. You might be missing out on something amazing. Don't delay — get spiritual counsel today. Amazing benefits await.

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Vince Miller is an author and speaker to men around the world on topics that include manhood, masculinity, fatherhood, mentorship, and leadership. He has authored 18 different books for men and is hosted on major video platforms like RightNow Media and Faithlife TV. He hosts a weekly podcast, writes weekly articles, and provides daily thoughts from God's Word all just for men. He is a 27-year ministry veteran and the founder of Resolute a Men's Ministry Platform that provides bible studies aimed at building better men found at www.beresolute.org. See his latest book and small group study Called to Act: 5 Uncomplicated Disciplines for Men.

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The Impact of a Biblical Mentor

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The Impact of a Biblical Mentor

Paul and Timothy shared a deep friendship and a productive partnership in the faith. Several passages of Scripture in the New Testament bear witness to the evolution of their relationship. It was a relationship that resulted in significant spiritual impact, one that advanced the gospel from mentor to protege. Here is the progression and impact.

One | Fathering in the Faith

“To Timothy, my true child in the faith: Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.” (1 Timothy 1:2)

Timothy’s father was Greek, and his mother, Eunice, was a Jew who later decided to follow Jesus. Her mother Lois, Timothy’s grandmother, also came to know the Lord—scholars believe both women were converted during Paul’s first visit to their home city of Lystra (Acts 14). The influence of these two women in Timothy’s life laid a strong foundation for what was to come later, as Paul himself noted: “…from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.” (2 Tim. 3:15)

It was right after he began his second missionary journey that Paul met Timothy and, upon the recommendation of several church leaders in Lystra, invited him to accompany him on his travels. From the very start, Paul is attentively and spiritually “parenting” Timothy. He brought Timothy alongside him to share in his day-to-day experiences; essentially, the two men “did life together” for several years, as Timothy was heavily involved in Paul’s subsequent missionary journeys, as well.

Paul was about 15 years older than Timothy, and it was apparent that he took the responsibility of being a role model of faith for the younger man seriously; but the two men also shared a genuine affection for each other, forged in day-to-day, real events. Timothy was observing Paul’s character and conduct in all kinds of circumstances, and in the process, the seeds his mentor planted began to sprout tangible, valuable fruit. Paul came to trust Timothy implicitly, and would send him as his emissary when needed, confident of the reception he would receive: “But you know Timothy’s proven worth, how as a son with a father he has served with me in the gospel.” (Philippians 2:22)

Two | Following in the Faith

“You, however, have followed my teaching, my conduct, my aim in life, my faith, my patience, my love, my steadfastness, my persecutions and sufferings that happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium, and at Lystra – which persecutions I endured; yet from them all the Lord rescued me.” (2 Timothy 3:10-11)

Throughout the years, as the friendship between Paul and Timothy evolved, the two shared both highs (seeing many come to Christ and the growth of new churches) and lows (illness, physical dangers, persecutions, Paul’s imprisonment). They became partners in sharing the gospel, and God used their collaboration to accomplish much toward building His kingdom. The Bible indicates Timothy was directly involved in the ministry of at least five New Testament churches (I Thessalonians 3; 1 Corinthians 4; Philippians 2; Acts 17; I Timothy 3). Their travels took them far and wide, from Rome, throughout Macedonia, all over Asia, and to Jerusalem.

Three | Fellow-working in the Faith

“Timothy, my fellow worker, greets you; so do Lucius and Jason and Sosipater, my kinsmen.” (Romans 16:21)

From son, to student, to peer and fellow laborer in service to the Kingdom, Timothy made measurable, visible progress becoming a strong man of God. But it didn’t just happen. By intentionally pouring time and effort into Timothy, Paul followed the example Jesus modeled with each of His disciples, investing in the relationship with a purpose. Ephesians 4 makes it clear that Jesus always sought to develop the God-given potential of those He was teaching and leading. “He who descended is the one who also ascended far above all the heavens, that he might fill all things. And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ…” (Ephesians 4:10-13)

We are called to become more like Jesus – and to encourage others to do the same – that we all will be able to use our God-given gifts and abilities for their God-given purpose. When he saw the end of his life on earth drawing near, Paul “passed his mantle” of ministry on to the person he knew would continue the ministry of the good news of Christ. “I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.” (2 Timothy 4:1-2) He had experienced great joy and rewards in helping someone become the person God intended him to be – and so will we if we do the same purposefully.

Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.” (I Thess. 5:11)

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Vince Miller is an author and speaker to men around the world on topics that include manhood, masculinity, fatherhood, mentorship, and leadership. He has authored 18 different books for men and is hosted on major video platforms like RightNow Media and Faithlife TV. He hosts a weekly podcast, writes weekly articles, and provides daily thoughts from God's Word all just for men. He is a 27-year ministry veteran and the founder of Resolute a Men's Ministry Platform that provides bible studies aimed at building better men found at www.beresolute.org. See his latest book and small group study Called to Act: 5 Uncomplicated Disciplines for Men.

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Reconciling Friendships

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Reconciling Friendships

All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation.—2 Corinthians 5:18

You’re getting along just fine with your brother when suddenly you find that you don’t see eye-to-eye on something. And the disagreement escalates a little, then a little more, until your friendship sort of devolves into hurt and frustration. It happens – and that’s just one scenario. There are at least as many ways for friends to fall out as there are friendships. But our God is a God of peace, and He would have us work toward restoring harmony when conflicts arise with people in our lives.

The book of Philemon is a story about just that potential for renewal — an account of reconciliation between Onesimus (whose name means “useless”) to Philemon, a wealthy donor to Paul and leader in the early church. Onesimus was a runaway slave who Paul met in Rome and led to Christ before discovering that he knew Onesimus’ owner, Philemon. Paul then sends Onesimus back to Philemon carrying a letter encouraging reconciliation between the two men. There is much we can take away from Paul’s godly perspective of this age-old issue: rifts in relationships. 

One | You Must Go Back to Go Forward

“I am sending him back to you, sending my very heart.” (Philemon 12)

All of our relationships have context and history; we need to remember that matters. Paul reminds Philemon that Onesimus is a person of intrinsic value (he matters to Paul, just as he matters to God). Indeed, every person is important to God; His entire eternal plan was forged to bring His lost and loved people back into relationship with Himself. Jesus is the proof incarnate that “God so loved the world.” Even the most off-course, seemingly hopeless cases – yes, even the criminal hanging on a neighboring cross as Jesus was crucified – He rejoices to save. We have to see the bigger picture, to view people with God’s eyes, not our own, and sometimes that is HARD to do. But praise God, He helps us do it. 

Two | Spiritual Renewal Changes People and Their Relationships

“For this perhaps is why he was parted from you for a while, that you might have him back forever, no longer as a bondservant but more than a bondservant, as a beloved brother – especially to me, but how much more to you, both in the flesh and in the Lord.” (Philemon 15-16)

Onesimus had been Philemon’s slave, but Paul was not playing “bounty hunter” here. His goal was not to return a slave to the owner. Instead, he hoped to encourage a transformational reconciliation – one in which the restored relationship between two men would reflect a brother-to-brother bond rather than their former slave and owner connection. So, if we are striving to see the people in our lives as God sees them, the nature of our interaction with them will inevitably be changed. Particularly if they are fellow believers – because then, Scripture makes clear, we are bound together by virtue of our shared faith in Jesus Christ. They’re family – so it behooves us to do everything we can to handle those relationships in a way that’s pleasing to the Lord.

Three | Mediation & Bartering May Help

“So if you consider me your partner, receive him as you would receive me. If he has wronged you at all, or owes you anything, charge that to my account.” (Philemon 17-18)

Paul was a friend to both men, and he aimed to bring peace to their relationship. He took the initiative as a sort of mediator, and we can follow his lead by encouraging reconciliation between two feuding friends. But it also follows that if we ourselves are at odds with a brother, we can and often should seek help from a cooler-headed third party. Especially if that third party has a little expertise in the art of conflict resolution. Be careful, though. Make sure your mediator can bring a spiritual viewpoint to the table and maintain a neutral perspective. It’s tempting to engage a go-between who seems to side with you so that together you can present a united front. But that’ll only make your brother feel attacked and distance him even more. Even if you sincerely believe your brother is behaving in a scripturally errant or un-Christlike way, you still want to identify a mediator who can help guide you through the reconciliation process in a thoughtful, sensitive, loving way.

Four | Be Willing to Make Amends

“Confident of your obedience, I write to you, knowing that you will do even more than I say.” (Philemon 21)

To restore a relationship is – perhaps first and foremost – an act of obedience. We know that God is a God of reconciliation, so reconciliation is what we seek. But it does come at a cost. It requires that we set aside our ruffled feathers to see things from the other guy’s point of view. It requires that we welcome each other, agreeing to learn whatever hard lessons are necessary, and move on. It requires that we correct any mistakes we’ve made and attempt to put things right. And it requires a decision to forgive – and a commitment to work toward restoring trust.

Our friendships are valuable. You know how it is when you’ve lost something that was important to you, or something you treasure gets broken – and how happy you feel when the lost is found or the broken repaired. Friendships are worth pursuing, and Scripture encourages us to preserve those bonds—“If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all” (Romans 12:18). After all, as brothers in Christ, we all end up together in heaven – forever! 

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Vince Miller is an author and speaker to men around the world on topics that include manhood, masculinity, fatherhood, mentorship, and leadership. He has authored 18 different books for men and is hosted on major video platforms like RightNow Media and Faithlife TV. He hosts a weekly podcast, writes weekly articles, and provides daily thoughts from God's Word all just for men. He is a 27-year ministry veteran and the founder of Resolute a Men's Ministry Platform that provides bible studies aimed at building better men found at www.beresolute.org. See his latest book and small group study Called to Act: 5 Uncomplicated Disciplines for Men.

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Isolation Is Our Enemy

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Isolation Is Our Enemy

"After this there was a feast of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. Now there is in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate a pool, in Aramaic called Bethesda, which has five roofed colonnades. In these lay a multitude of invalids—blind, lame, and paralyzed. One man was there who had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had already been there a long time, he said to him, "Do you want to be healed?" The sick man answered him, "Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up, and while I am going another steps down before me." Jesus said to him, "Get up, take up your bed, and walk." And at once the man was healed, and he took up his bed and walked. (John 5:1-9) 

Think about it. For 38 years, this man sat in the same spot, lonely and tired, without a friend to help him. Can you imagine the heap of loneliness and human pain buffeted by the surging tides of thousands of people who failed to see him or reach out to him — for decades? But Jesus singled him out. He connected with him as an individual. He saw his need and met it. 

How often are men isolated in loneliness? 

And how often is it a misery of our own making? 

We do not know how many people must have suffered by the pool of Bethesda. Many of them abandoned by those who should have been there for them. But sometimes we are the ones who isolate ourselves — putting up invisible walls in an effort to maintain a meaningless pretending to the world; or afraid to show any vulnerability that might be perceived as a weakness. This is not how Jesus lived out His humanity. He was authentic, not afraid to be and reveal the man He really was. And though He would at times withdraw from others — most often to be in communion with the Father — He did not neglect to maintain friendship and fellowship with the men He had sought out to be His community. We should follow His example and seek out relationships with other men, for isolation is the enemy of men.

Here are some steps we can take as men.

One | Take a self-assessment

"I am like a desert owl of the wilderness, like an owl of the waste places; I lie awake; I am like a lonely sparrow on the housetop." (Psalm 102:6-7)

Are you prone to isolation? To being that lone wolf of a man?

I know that even I occasionally need a little solitude — time to rest, regroup, and recharge. But there's a big difference between healthy isolation and intentionally retreating into an abyss of loneliness. Do you have any guy friends you meet with regularly, not just for recreation, but to interact with about things that matter? Not just trivial stuff but some real conversations? As men, we need to strike a balance in this area; otherwise, we will discover one day we have a lot of acquaintances but not a lot of meaningful friends that help us become better men. Take a few minutes to assess your balance between relationship and isolation, and maybe decide what t

Two | Take stock of your current relationships

"Do not be deceived: 'Bad company ruins good morals.'" (1 Corinthians 15:33) 

We tend to subconsciously (and sometimes consciously) adopt many of the attitudes and values of those we spend the most time with — so our choices when it comes to close friends can be more important than we realize. This doesn't mean that we spend time only with those who are "just like us," but rather, that we exercise discernment in the way we invest in relationships with others. We need friendships — but we need to choose wisely. We need to choose friends who will draw us closer to God, not distance us from Him. Take some time to take stock of your relationships. Are they driving you toward good and godly things, or do the lion share drive you away from them?

Three | Take small steps in the right direction

"Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him — a threefold cord is not quickly broken." (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12)

This passage is often quoted at weddings, but the context actually refers to all our human relationships; indeed, the verses that precede it talk about a man alone, having "neither son nor brother." God makes it clear to us — we need each other. Not only is there reward in a relationship, but we are all stronger together than we can ever be on our own.

Just as Jesus made the first move when He approached that lonely man at Bethesda, He also has made the first move with us. He lived His life on earth as He would have us live ours, focused on God, while also reaching out to not only heal and teach but also to share life with others; the ultimate act of fellowship. And then He died on the cross in our place. 

May we, as He did, strike a balance between solitude and deep connection with a close, trusted brother in the Lord.

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Vince Miller is an author and speaker to men around the world on topics that include manhood, masculinity, fatherhood, mentorship, and leadership. He has authored 18 different books for men and is hosted on major video platforms like RightNow Media and Faithlife TV. He hosts a weekly podcast, writes weekly articles, and provides daily thoughts from God's Word all just for men. He is a 27-year ministry veteran and the founder of Resolute a Men's Ministry Platform that provides bible studies aimed at building better men found at www.beresolute.org. See his latest book and small group study Called to Act: 5 Uncomplicated Disciplines for Men.

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The Model of Friendship David & Jonathan

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The Model of Friendship David & Jonathan

As male friendships go, few can compare to the relationship between David and Jonathan. The emphasis of their relationship was a major recurring theme throughout much of 1 Samuel in the Old Testament. The brotherhood they shared was based on love. The Hebrew word for love, which describes a platonic affection with clear political and diplomatic implications, ran deep between them and served as an example of the biblical brand of male bonding that every brother would do well to embrace — and be blessed to experience.

"As soon as he had finished speaking to Saul, the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul." (1 Samuel 18:1)

To love another as one loves himself in the context of the Bible means, of course, that the other person's needs, desires, hopes, and dreams matter to you. You care about the other guy's health and well-being. And though David and Jonathan both led their own lives, they also both served the same king (Jonathan's father Saul), the same army, and the same God. What critical principles of friendship can we learn from this extraordinary "knitting of the souls"?

Personal Sacrifice

"Then Jonathan made a covenant with David, because he loved him as his own soul. And Jonathan stripped himself of the robe that was on him and gave it to David, and his armor, and even his sword and his bow and his belt. And David went out and was successful wherever Saul sent him, so that Saul set him over the men of war. And this was good in the sight of all the people and also in the sight of Saul's servants." (1 Samuel 18:3-5)

That Jonathan gave his robe, armor, sword, bow, and belt to David not only demonstrates the sacrificial love, Jonathan had for his friend, but it also symbolizes a major component of their covenant: that when David succeeded Jonathan's father Saul as king of Israel, Jonathan would serve as his second in command. This was a symbol of genuine servitude and was a powerful gesture in that the natural line of succession to the throne would have been Jonathan. Real friends are willing to make sacrifices for each other, make plans together, and serve one another with respect and humility.

Unity in Faith

"Jonathan said to the young man who carried his armor, 'Come, let us go over to the garrison of these uncircumcised. It may be that the Lord will work for us, for nothing can hinder the Lord from saving by many or by few.'" (1 Samuel 14:6)

"Then David said to the Philistine, 'You come to me with a sword and with a spear and with a javelin, but I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied.'" (1 Samuel 17:45)

Both David and Jonathan were motivated by their devotion to God and their commitment to further His kingdom. They were united in their faith and faithful to their callings. As in marriage, shared faith plays a huge role in a successful relationship — and partnership in mission and ministry.

Enduring Loyalty

"Then Saul's anger was kindled against Jonathan, and he said to him, 'You son of a perverse, rebellious woman, do I not know that you have chosen the son of Jesse to your own shame, and to the shame of your mother's nakedness? For as long as the son of Jesse lives on the earth, neither you nor your kingdom shall be established. Therefore send and bring him to me, for he shall surely die.' Then Jonathan answered Saul his father, 'Why should he be put to death? What has he done?' But Saul hurled his spear at him to strike him. So Jonathan knew that his father was determined to put David to death. And Jonathan rose from the table in fierce anger and ate no food the second day of the month, for he was grieved for David, because his father had disgraced him." (1 Samuel 20:30-34)

The friendship between David and Jonathan had become complicated because Jonathan's father Saul had grown to despise David and for all kinds of reasons. Can you imagine Jonathan's predicament? He was torn between loyalty to his father and loyalty to his friend. But Jonathan sided with David because he knew that his father's position was unjust and influenced by all kinds of wrong motives. At the risk of his own life, Jonathan maintained covert contact with David so that he could warn him of impending danger. Defend and protect — sometimes at great risk, but that's what true friends do for each other.

Emotional Connection

"…David got up from the south side of the stone and bowed down before Jonathan three times, with his face to the ground. Then they kissed each other and wept together—but David wept the most." (1 Samuel 20:41)

Things with Saul had deteriorated to the point where David's life was in constant danger. It was time for him to disappear, and when the two friends had to say "goodbye," they didn't know if they'd ever see each other again. One way you know you really love somebody is when it hurts so bad to part ways that the dam breaks and the tears flow. Is it worth it? Absolutely, brother. Don't let anybody tell you differently. 

A friendship between men like the one David and Jonathan shared is all too rare. My prayer, guys, is that the Lord will bless every one of us with such a bond of brotherhood.

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Vince Miller is an author and speaker to men around the world on topics that include manhood, masculinity, fatherhood, mentorship, and leadership. He has authored 18 different books for men and is hosted on major video platforms like RightNow Media and Faithlife TV. He hosts a weekly podcast, writes weekly articles, and provides daily thoughts from God's Word all just for men. He is a 27-year ministry veteran and the founder of Resolute a Men's Ministry Platform that provides bible studies aimed at building better men found at www.beresolute.org. See his latest book and small group study Called to Act: 5 Uncomplicated Disciplines for Men.

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Man Is Not Meant to Do Life Alone

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Man Is Not Meant to Do Life Alone

Fess up if you're lonely. Really, this is too important to shrug off. Not only is loneliness a significant contributor to depression, but frequently it's a factor in suicides. Did you know that men are nearly four times more likely to die from suicide than women? Shocking. And loneliness also is associated with obesity, high blood pressure, lowered immune rates, and other potentially lethal health issues. One can accurately say that our lack of connection with other guys may be killing us. It is slowly resulting in physical pain and death.

The Power of Two (Or More)

"Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up!" (Ecclesiastes 4:9-10) 

God never intended for us to go through life or face its challenges by ourselves. Not only does He sustain us by His own power, but He also provides support through the other men He brings into our lives. Numbers 11 recounts how, when Moses found the burden of leading the contentious Israelites became "too heavy" for him, God directed him to gather together some of the elders and leaders so that He could empower them to help Moses as needed.

"They shall bear the burden of the people with you, so that you may not bear it yourself alone" (Numbers 11:17).

God also surrounded David with mighty warriors whose love, devotion, and help influenced his life in myriad ways (2 Samuel 23).

Cultivate a Few Close Male Friends

"Then Jonathan made a covenant with David, because he loved him as his own soul." (1 Samuel 18:3) 

Stories in both the Old and New Testament bear out how vital our human relationships are, and through them we learn much about how God has designed us for fellowship not only with Himself, but also with each other. Jesus understood that every man needs support and friendship with other men — He sought out His disciples with intentionality, quite early in His ministry (Matthew 4; Mark 1; Luke 5). And Scripture makes it clear that those relationships were personal and vital to Him, not just in the context of teacher and follower. He needed them in His darkest moments in Gethsemane; He shared His heart with them daily; He referred to them not just as brothers, but also as His friends.

"No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you." (John 15:15)

Make It a Matter of Prayer

I admit that to find a true friend is not always an easy task, but we owe it to ourselves to make it a priority. Bible scholars tend to single out three from among Jesus' disciples and apostles who were His closest guy friends: Peter, James, and John. Those friendships evolved as they ministered together and endured life together. So pray about it — make it a point to identify one or two guys with whom you can nurture a healthy, biblical friendship. Friendships with other men provide something very different from the connection one might have with a girlfriend or a spouse, and we men can validate each other in ways that the women in our lives cannot. Some activities and experiences can only be shared with other men, a camaraderie that evolves among brothers unique to the bonds of man-to-man relationships.

Brothers, we need to acknowledge that developing friendships with other men is essential —and brings us that much closer to maturing into the men God intends us to be. We need each other. It's how He designed us. It's not a show of weakness. Instead, it's a reflection of the fellowship our triune God enjoys as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

And the truth is — our very lives may depend on it!

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Vince Miller is an author and speaker to men around the world on topics that include manhood, masculinity, fatherhood, mentorship, and leadership. He has authored 18 different books for men and is hosted on major video platforms like RightNow Media and Faithlife TV. He hosts a weekly podcast, writes weekly articles, and provides daily thoughts from God's Word all just for men. He is a 27-year ministry veteran and the founder of Resolute a Men's Ministry Platform that provides bible studies aimed at building better men found at www.beresolute.org. See his latest book and small group study Called to Act: 5 Uncomplicated Disciplines for Men.

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6 Reasons Why A Man Needs Friends

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6 Reasons Why A Man Needs Friends

Most every culture in the world recognizes the value of friendship. Literature abounds with quotes on the subject.

“But friendship is precious, not only in the shade, but in the sunshine of life.” (Thomas Jefferson) 

“The bird a nest, the spider a web, man, friendship.” (William Blake)

So why is it, in our modern culture, so many men shortchange themselves when it comes to developing deep friendships? Perhaps we fail to recognize just how we are enriched by truly connecting with men of faith that God brings into our lives? Here are six things we miss out on if we don’t nurture healthy friendships with other guys.

1. Sharpening

“Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.” (Proverbs 27:17)

Some of the sharpening processes are intentional. We might “apprentice” with a friend who teaches us a new skill, or meet regularly with a brother as a mentor or mentee, or learn from a more advanced one-on-one Bible study partner. Or we may be challenged by someone we respect to see an issue from a different point of view, or to step out of our comfort zone in some way. Sometimes the sharpening is the result of healthy, good-natured competition. We tend to step up our game when in the presence of a better opponent — or teammate. Sometimes the sharpening happens just by doing life with and observing another brother, watching the way he interacts with others and handles challenging situations. Sharpening can change us, help us grow. And we may see benefits on all levels: mentally, socially, emotionally, physically, and spiritually.

2. Companionship

“A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.” (Proverbs 18:24)

Clearly, it’s better to have at least one really good friend than to dabble here and there among lots of surface relationships. Even more important, though, is that we choose our friends well. You can either spend time with a companion whose influence makes you a better man, strengthening your faith, helping you along the way of life. Or you can hang out with guys who drag you down and get you in trouble having a detrimental impact on your character along the way. 

3. Acceptance

“A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.” (Proverbs 17:17)

How good it is to enjoy friendship with another guy who is faithful no matter how badly we screw up; someone who appreciates us—flaws and all; someone who knows us well and loves us anyway. There’s nothing more healing than when a friend not only stands beside us but also helps us pick up the pieces and move on in the aftermath of disappointment or the consequences of poor choices. And we’re better men when we demonstrate that same consideration for other brothers in our lives.

4. Accountability

“Do not be deceived: ‘Bad company ruins good morals.’” (1 Corinthians 15:33)

I admit that it sometimes hurts to be admonished by someone we love, admire, and from whom we crave approval. But of course, we do each other no favors by winking at a brother’s questionable decisions or letting his sins slide by as if there’s nothing wrong. What kind of love is that? I’m not saying we should be judgmental, continually pointing out another guy’s weaknesses. But at the same time, really good friends will nudge each other, give each other a poke, intervene in some way when a brother seems to be veering off-course. We want to encourage each other in loving ways to behave well and make good choices. And if you’re really serious about overcoming some recurring bad habit, enter into an accountability arrangement with another guy, agreeing to check up on each other and be honest when you’ve stumbled, praying for each other and cheering each other on along the right path.

5. Wisdom

“Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm.” (Proverbs 13:20)

Again, so much rides on the company we keep. But when we walk with another man whose wisdom runs strong and deep — perhaps an older friend or mentor with a wealth of life experience and spiritual maturity — we can only benefit. We ask for wisdom, but we can’t expect God to make us wise suddenly. He often grants our request through our investment of time with a well-chosen brother. 

6. Encouragement

“And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works.” (Hebrews 10:24)

We need to be intentional about encouraging each other. It’s not something we should only expect from others. We need to look for ways to encourage the other guy, to perpetuate a mutual cycle of inspiration that motivates and generates enthusiasm for really loving and serving others with joyful hearts.

So find a friend. Be a friend. Let’s step further into becoming the men God designed us to be.

Vince-Miller-Bio-Pic-2019

Vince Miller is an author and speaker to men around the world on topics that include manhood, masculinity, fatherhood, mentorship, and leadership. He has authored 18 different books for men and is hosted on major video platforms like RightNow Media and Faithlife TV. He hosts a weekly podcast, writes weekly articles, and provides daily thoughts from God's Word all just for men. He is a 27-year ministry veteran and the founder of Resolute a Men's Ministry Platform that provides bible studies aimed at building better men found at www.beresolute.org. See his latest book and small group study Called to Act: 5 Uncomplicated Disciplines for Men.

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When A Great Friendship Ends

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When A Great Friendship Ends

Four things great friends do even when it does not last forever.

“The pain of parting is nothing to the joy of meeting again.”—Charles Dickens

When people think of the friendship between Paul and Barnabas, their thoughts often turn immediately to the sad break up between these two friends. The rift, of course, occurred when Barnabas proposed that his cousin Mark accompany them on their second missionary journey, but Paul opposed the idea. Their falling out was painful, and significant in part because of how deep their bond had been. They had been the best of friends and brothers.

Four things we learn about the friendship between Paul and Barnabas.

Friends champion each other. 

And when he (Paul) had come to Jerusalem, he attempted to join the disciples. And they were all afraid of him, for they did not believe that he was a disciple. But Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles and declared to them how on the road he had seen the Lord, who spoke to him, and how at Damascus he had preached boldly in the name of Jesus.” (Acts 9:26-27)

One can understand why the apostles were suspicious of Paul at first. After all, before his conversion, he had been a cruel persecutor of Christ-followers. But Barnabas believed that Paul’s newfound devotion to Jesus and his zeal for the gospel were genuine. So he championed for Paul, and because so many looked up to Barnabas, many Christian men listened. Indeed, through much of Luke’s account in the first half of the Book of Acts, Paul and Barnabas were inseparable. Reading between the lines, it would even seem that Barnabas played a massive role in mentoring Paul and developing his spiritual life as their friendship took root and grew.

Friends partner in mission and adventure.

“While they (prophets and teachers in the church at Antioch) were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, ‘Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul (Paul) for the work to which I have called them.’ Then after fasting and praying they laid their hands on them and sent them off.” (Acts 13:2-3)

Paul and Barnabas made quite a team during what we have come to call Paul’s first missionary journey, effectively communicating the gospel to audiences from the port city of Antioch, to the island of Cyprus (Barnabas’ home), to Asia Minor and beyond. They apparently played off of each other well, Paul an engaging speaker and Barnabas a born encourager (his name means “exhorter” and “comforter”). They knew each other’s strengths and allowed these strengths to shine. Along the way, they encountered — and by the Holy Spirit’s power defeated — an evil sorcerer, performed miracles of healing, and at one point were even mistaken for Greek gods. The response to their message and their chemistry as friends and colleagues was hugely positive — though some among their Jewish listeners were becoming a bit unnerved.

Friends see each other through adversity.

“…it has seemed good to us, having come to one accord, to choose men and send them to you with our beloved Barnabas and Paul, men who have risked their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Acts 15:25-26)

In this excerpt from a letter to Gentile believers from the Jerusalem Council, Paul and Barnabas are acknowledged as “men who have risked their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” The duo’s encounters with the opposition during the first missionary journey were sometimes frightening, to say the least — Paul was even stoned and left for dead when they were in Lystra. But in an early demonstration of “no man left behind,” Paul was rescued, and the pair hightailed it to Derbe. The point is, friends have each other’s backs. They’re willing to face risky, even life-threatening, ventures as a team because they know they’re in it together. 

Friends weather their conflicts and move on.

“And after some days Paul said to Barnabas, ‘Let us return and visit the brothers in every city where we proclaimed the word of the Lord, and see how they are.’ Now Barnabas wanted to take with them John called Mark. But Paul thought best not to take with them one who had withdrawn from them in Pamphylia and had not gone with them to the work. And there arose a sharp disagreement, so that they separated from each other. Barnabas took Mark with him and sailed away to Cyprus, but Paul chose Silas and departed, having been commended by the brothers to the grace of the Lord. And he went through Syria and Cilicia, strengthening the churches.” (Acts 15:36-41)

This is tough, guys. Heartbreaking. But let’s make a couple of critical observations. First, the dispute between Paul and Barnabas was not about doctrine. They remained united on the gospel message and teachings of Christ they shared throughout the land. And second, they did not allow their disagreement to deter them from their mission — both went on to follow through on the work they’d committed themselves to complete. Nor is there any evidence that they bad-mouthed one another after going their separate ways. In fact, there is some indication that they eventually reconciled (see 1 Corinthians 9:6).

The truth is that conflict is inevitable even in the healthiest of relationships. It’s a fact of life and certainly should never dissuade us from pursuing friendships with other brothers in the Lord. When conflict happens, we should strive not to let our tempers control our speech, and we must always seek reconciliation. In the meantime, let’s take a cue from Paul and Barnabas and cheer each other on, partner with each other for the cause of Christ, and leave no man behind.

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Vince Miller is an author and speaker to men around the world on topics that include manhood, masculinity, fatherhood, mentorship, and leadership. He has authored 18 different books for men and is hosted on major video platforms like RightNow Media and Faithlife TV. He hosts a weekly podcast, writes weekly articles, and provides daily thoughts from God's Word all just for men. He is a 27-year ministry veteran and the founder of Resolute a Men's Ministry Platform that provides bible studies aimed at building better men found at www.beresolute.org. See his latest book and small group study Called to Act: 5 Uncomplicated Disciplines for Men.

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Life After The Shenanigans

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Life After The Shenanigans

Men in our culture are typically great at doing life with other guys around activities like pick-up basketball, rock climbing, going out drinking, or drumming up a little mischief. But we are not typically great at building friendships around anything meaningful, things that promote real conversation, and getting to know each other on a deeper level. Eventually, we outgrow the shenanigans and maybe the drinking, and at some point, our bodies struggle to handle the athletic competition and physically demanding outings. What then? How will we build friendships? Are we destined for a life devoid of any brotherly camaraderie?

My assumption, of course, is that you agree with me that guys need friends who are guys. Our male friends watch our backs and cheer us on. They broaden our perspective, offer advice, and hold us accountable. They listen to our problems and walk beside us through our difficulties. They understand because they're men, and often they've "been there and done that." And we can do the same for them. No, I don't believe I need to convince you that guys need guy friends. But I will offer a couple of suggestions that I pray will help you build the sort of life-long, man-to-man friendships that will stand you in good stead for years to come.

 Try to build better relationships with your dad and/or son(s).

"When the time drew near for David to die, he gave a charge to Solomon his son. 'I am about to go the way of all the earth,' he said. 'So be strong, act like a man.'" (1 Kings 2:1-2)

There's no better place to start than at home. Granted, David dropped the ball when it came to fathering, but he did have an occasional great moment, and this priceless father/son interaction was one of them. I don't mean to ignore the reality that a lot of guys face some difficult and complicated issues with their fathers or sons — but for others of us, our family ties give us a natural point of entry. Our families have seen us at our best and worst, yet they love us anyway because we're family. And what a blessing it is when they get to know us well enough to appreciate who we are! Even in well-functioning families, it seems that too many of us sort of skate on the surface of our relationships. Take a chance. Break the ice. Dive deep. You might be surprised at the richness you'll discover.

Take one relationship farther before time passes you by.

"But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up!" (Ecclesiastes 4:10)

We've all been there — failed or fallen in both big and small ways. What other men in your life do you turn to when the going gets tough? Who knows you well enough to prop you up and offer just the right pep talk? With whom might you begin to build such a relationship? A co-worker? A neighbor? A guy at church? An uncle or grandpa? Who in your life do you think you might be able to laugh with, cry with, and trust with your confidences? It takes time, effort, and intentionality to build such a friendship, so go for it. Initiate, engage, set it up — prioritize it right up there with faith, family, and job. It's too important to put off any longer.

For many of us, the biggest challenge might be just mustering the courage to put ourselves out there. It feels risky. Too many insecurities stand in the way. But with God's help, you can do this. I won't say it's easy, but I will say it's worth it.

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Vince Miller is an author and speaker to men around the world on topics that include manhood, masculinity, fatherhood, mentorship, and leadership. He has authored 18 different books for men and is hosted on major video platforms like RightNow Media and Faithlife TV. He hosts a weekly podcast, writes weekly articles, and provides daily thoughts from God's Word all just for men. He is a 27-year ministry veteran and the founder of Resolute a Men's Ministry Platform that provides bible studies aimed at building better men found at www.beresolute.org. See his latest book and small group study Called to Act: 5 Uncomplicated Disciplines for Men.

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Build Emotional Disclosure

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Build Emotional Disclosure

It’s okay to have emotions. God made us that way. He created us in His image, and He is an emotional God. So despite anything you may have come to believe as a man in our culture, we have God’s green light not only to experience emotions but also to express them. We need to move beyond being emotionless, single-dimensional, bumps on a log (and I mean that ever so kindly). So let’s start now to make life a little more interesting…!

Move beyond anger.

“I desire then that in every place the men should pray, lifting holy hands without anger or quarreling.” (1 Timothy 2:8)

Anger often comes to mind early on when we ponder emotions, and it’s a biggie. Irritation, frustration, aggravation — all might be considered variations on the theme. And while anger is not taboo (think of Jesus ridding the temple of money changers!), it’s undoubtedly an emotion we must learn to control and express constructively as we mature in Christ. But my purpose just now is not to analyze and provide some therapy for any emotions that might challenge us or that might seem to dominate our days. Instead, I want us to acknowledge and embrace the full range of emotions with which God has blessed us. One psychologist and researcher suggests there are but eight basic emotions. Others list 400 or more. Wow. Regardless, I believe that we sort of stifle ourselves, hold ourselves back from who we really are until we learn to identify, acknowledge, and manage in Christlike ways ALL of our emotions. It’s time to become the fully dimensional men God created us to be.

Get in touch with your positive emotions.

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” (Galatians 5:22-23)

There have been times throughout the history of our culture when it was not considered “macho” to have any tender feelings. Guys had those feelings, of course, but tended to hide them or suppress them. And I believe this misguided approach to life lingers in many circles even today. Well, I have two words for that: “Stop it!” The truth is, we do experience and should express these positive emotions. At the same time, though, we must ask ourselves if these emotions are triggered only by particular objects of affection in our lives. When Christ is our focus, the Holy Spirit capitalizes on our connection with Him to produce the “fruits of the spirit,” we see listed in Galatians. Let’s be sure that 1) our “objects of affection” inventory is healthy and biblically permissible, and that 2) Jesus is at the top of it!

Go to God to more deeply understand your emotional self.

“Let my cry come before you, O Lord; give me understanding according to your word!” (Psalm 119:169)

One might consider David (primary author of the Psalms) to be the ultimate “macho man.” After all, he slew giant Goliath with a slingshot, didn’t he? But for him, there was no holding back when it came to expressing his emotions to God. He cried out to God in anger, sorrow, fear, and often utter joy. So let’s follow his lead and start with the Lord. No holds barred. Scream in pain, shout in anger, cry in grief, sing for joy — anything goes. Nothing we can say to Him will diminish His unconditional love for us. We can be totally honest with Him — even when He might be the object of our anger rather than the object of our affection! The truth is He loves us regardless — and He loves it when we are genuine with Him and pours out with total transparency whatever is on our hearts.

There’s a sense of unprecedented freedom when we learn to identify and express our emotions. But there’s still an element of discipline to it, as well. God gives us the latitude to rant and rave at Him all we want, but we must endeavor to be like Christ when we express our emotions, negative or positive, to another individual. There’s a learning curve, yes, but it’s worth the effort — lest we remain mere bumps on a log.

Vince-Miller-Bio-Pic-2019

Vince Miller is an author and speaker to men around the world on topics that include manhood, masculinity, fatherhood, mentorship, and leadership. He has authored 18 different books for men and is hosted on major video platforms like RightNow Media and Faithlife TV. He hosts a weekly podcast, writes weekly articles, and provides daily thoughts from God's Word all just for men. He is a 27-year ministry veteran and the founder of Resolute a Men's Ministry Platform that provides bible studies aimed at building better men found at www.beresolute.org. See his latest book and small group study Called to Act: 5 Uncomplicated Disciplines for Men.

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