This year was certainly one we will remember for decades. In many ways, it was “upside-down”. I pray it also caused enough change that people reassess their priorities and return to what’s most important in life.
As I reflect on my second year of writing for this blog, I’m even more convinced that men need God Buddies to help them through tough times like these.
So here is my annual reflection on helping men become better men,
A Year Like No Others
This year’s coronavirus pandemic certainly helped us realize that no one should do life alone. Even though we were asked to stay away from others, isolation caused problems for many people.
Our socially- and physically-distanced life behind N95 masks forced us to slow down, take care of ourselves and our loved ones. We needed to invest time in our most valuable relationships.
This unprecedented year also showed why men need deeper, more authentic, and accountable friendships.
Roll with the Changes
This year also included a major change for me. I retired (by my own choice) after 22+ years in the printing and publishing industry in order to change the pace of life.
Retirement enabled me to enjoy outdoor recreational activities like golf and bike riding. It also gave me time for some volunteer service projects with a couple of my buddies, and help my son and his wife with their new business.
This year also provided me more time to write about my God Buddy concept. Since launching the blog in December 2018, I am now up to 109 posts and counting. It also further sharpened my thoughts so (here’s the Spoiler Alert!), I’m working on the manuscript for the book I plan to self-publish soon. I also hope to begin speaking more about God Buddies next year.
Posts That Help with Change
I began writing this year with a post, The Seasons of a Man’s Life since I knew I was entering a new season. That followed with posts about The Seasons of Friendships, Why Do Friendships End?, and Deep Friendships Last because I also had several close friends who were moving away.
The next two posts were inspired by Jack Donovan’s book The Way of Men.
In Being Good at Being a Man or Being a Good Man and Being Good at Being a Godly Man, I suggested that our society needs more godly men. These are not just guys with the tactical virtues needed to become a man, or good men with moral virtues, concerns about justice, or display acts of humility, charity, faith, righteousness, honesty, and temperance.
These are men who help each other become better men who live according to God’s higher standard.
The next series of posts was called The Biggest Challenges Men Face, which tackled three of the toughest: Managing Work-Life Balance, Reordering Priorities, and Resisting Temptations. These are challenges for men every day, which seemed appropriate for normal times.
And then the pandemic hit!
Adjusting to Change
I announced in February that I was going to retire in May. My wife and I worked on our “pre-tirement planning project” for a few years so we could make the decision to leave our careers rather than either of us getting the proverbial “pink slip”. I knew it was time for me to make a change.
But I had second thoughts once the lock-down started and the stock-market dropped.
However, our plan was solid. I talked with a few of my God Buddies, who I consider trusted advisors and part of my personal “board of directors”.
But I trusted in God’s plan and prayed a lot about the decision so my retirement date of May 1 remained in place.
This led to several weekly virtual “happy hours” with a few of my God Buddies.
The economic uncertainty of the pandemic, the racial unrest after the killings of George Floyd and others, plus the forthcoming political elections, all led to the post, Pray to Find Peace during Crisis.
The Effects of Change
Social separation and physical distancing during the pandemic were also increasing alcohol and drug abuse.
In the post, Isolation and Temptations during Crisis I explained that lions hunt their prey in groups and isolate a potential meal from their own herd.
The parallel was that Satan is on the move during the pandemic so we needed to stay connected with others.
I also wrote a series about man’s toughest challenge: Maintaining Sexual Purity and gave 3 tactics to help change our sinful behaviors and recondition our hearts in Winning the Battle for Sexual Purity.
All those posts reiterated that men need a God Buddy for accountability!
In May, I wrote a Mother’s Day post, Honor Your Mothers that described why because God commanded us to honor our parents. In June, two guest posts from Kent Evan’s Father on Purpose blog provided encouragement for Father’s Day: What is Missing from Good Fatherhood? and 7 Reminders of a Good Husband and Father.
These posts sandwich the guest post, What if God Wrote Your Buddy List by author, Jay Palienter plus two around my wedding anniversary on The Benefits (not Challenges) of Marriage about some lessons I’ve learned.
Our Emotions During Change
During the summer, I suggested a Renaissance Man of God never stops learning. This led to a learning series, Men and Their Emotions about The Why, The How, and The What of 8 emotions men need to learn how to manage:
- Fear (especially, fear of failure)
- Pridefulness (Ego & Power)
- Guilt (Shame)
- Anxiety (Worry)
- Boredom (Aloneness)
In those posts, I defined each emotion, described its environmental and physiological reaction, provided some biblical context, and suggested the appropriate response as God Buddies.
I followed up that series that men must Learn to Take Care of our “Sh*t” physically, emotionally, financially, and spiritually. We can’t take care of others if we can’t take care of ourselves!
Changing Your Heart
During the fall, I wrote two posts, Should She Be Your “Best” Friend? and All Men Need “Helpers” about a relationship of mutual servanthood with your spouse. I also asked a question that may make some people uncomfortable: “Who should be the leader of the family?” and described what servant leadership looks like in the post, A Godly Man Leads His Family.
In my opinion, the skills needed to be a good husband and father are missing in many guys today because they don’t have a proper understanding of biblical manhood. This results in passivity for guys who do not accept their responsibility as godly men. Often, they don’t have the courage to lead anything, including themselves and their family.
Pastor John Piper defines this best when he says,
“At the heart of mature masculinity is a sense of benevolent responsibility to lead, provide for, and protect women in ways appropriate to a man’s differing relationships.”
This definition does not mean masculinity based on fear and dominance. It’s one of mutual submission and leading like Jesus.
Facing Health Changes
As the pandemic continued into November, I asked you to Join Me for Men’s Mental Health Month. November is when organizations like Movember and No-Shave November “change the face” of men’s health issues by raising awareness of suicide and cancer among men.
So I grew a beard for the first time because those issues became more personal for me this year.
This summer, a good friend struggled with anxiety and suicidal thoughts. I had also lost another to suicide a few years earlier. A friend at my church was diagnosed with leukemia and had family and close friends who had prostate and colon cancer.
The CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention) reported that COVID-19 was causing a rise in fear and anxiety so I wrote about Men and Addiction and The Chains of Addictive Behaviors since men tend to self-medicate to manage their stress.
Let’s Change to a New Year!
Needless to say, it was an interesting year. Writing the blog in the first year gave me an outlet to refine my theory so that I could Make the Case for God Buddies. This year led to this reflection about the emotional and physical health of men.
My belief in the need for men to have God Buddies became even stronger since all of my GBs supported each other during a really tough year.
So I want to conclude with a big THANK YOU for your support and encouragement this year. As always, I welcome your comments and suggestions for new topics. Please write to me directly via the Contact Me page or post something publicly in the Comments area below each post.
Here’s to a happy new (better!) year with lots of God Buddies!