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Being a Man: Lesson 2,397


You cannot teach a man anything. You can only help him discover it within himself.
Galileo Galilei


Somewhere our society decided that men: "Don't ever talk about their emotions."

That has got to be one of the dumbest pieces of "wisdom" I've ever heard.

About 3 years ago at C3 that I heard Rob Bell speak. In the middle of an illustration he said "And I was telling my counselor..."

The audience (of mostly male Pastors) started laughing.
The problem? Bell hadn't paused. He was in the following sentence when he realized what just happened. He stopped his train of thought and came back to that point. He said something to the effect of "Why are you laughing? It's funny to talk to a counselor? The truth is that if more Pastors talked to counselors, more Pastors would be fit to lead their congregations and deal with the burdens they carry of their church members. Everyone in this room should see a counselor. It'd be good for you."

That was about all he said but it was one of the biggest points of his talk that stuck with me.

I've noticed that men everywhere are afraid to talk to counselors. I've had couples who wanted me to marry them but I wouldn't because the husband to be wouldn't do marriage counseling.
I think the problem stems from two extremes.

On one side we have a generation of men raised by men who were verbally abusive and downright ignorant on how to raise a boy into manhood.
They tried to emulate masculinity in the only way they knew how... work hard, party hard, carry a big stick. That was manhood. Conquer and make people submit... what a man you'll be! What ignorance.

Then on the other side of the coin are men who were not raised by a father at all.
Dad simply bailed and wasn't there to show his son how to become a man and talk through his emotions and problems. In some cases they had a dad at home but emotionally he was absent. As that boy turned into a man the daddy was physically present but emotionally he could have been halfway around the world.

So we have a generation of men who can't handle their emotional side. Our culture for a while got to where anything dealing with emotion was called our "feminine side". Call it what you want... we're emotional beings as much as we're physical and spiritual. Learning how to process and deal with our emotions (in all of their forms) is not only healthy but its also wise.

About a year after hearing Rob Bell speak I found a Christian counseling center in our area.

I went in and was relieved to meet a person who was straight up and logical (I'm that way). After a while the counselor asked "Why are you here again? You have no problems and you have a pretty solid grasp of everything... and your perspective is right on." I compared my visits as guard rails on the road. I wanted to visit every now and then to be sure I'm keeping my life balanced and my mental and emotional life on the road. The counselor smiled and said "I wish every Pastor in America would have that mindset. You guys have to deal with everyone's problems. I can't imagine keeping all of that bottled up. That's not healthy."

I agreed.

For a while I went about once every 8 weeks or so just to check in. The cost wasn't bad at all and frankly I felt much more positive in dealing with the daily grind because I gained good logical perspective on stuff that would come up from time to time.

Let me give you another illustration of why you too should line up a visit:
Do you change your oil only when your engine blows up? Absolutely not. You understand that it's far more wise to change your oil along the way when things are fine than to find yourself on the side of the road with smoke coming from your hood. Well that's what I want for your life as well. I want you to have a solid grasp of your life and the way your mind works so that you have less experience with the big blowups. You will be able to have someone who is trained ask you the questions that need to be asked so you will be cautious of any problems ahead.

The title of this post specifically calls out men but I believe this lesson extends to everyone. I firmly believe that apart from visiting a counselor now and then, married couples should go to conferences to gain wisdom and push "pause" on life once in a while. If you're considering marriage I'm emphatically in support of a marriage counselor who walks you through the common areas of problems in marriage. Do you realize most couples spend thousands of dollars and nearly a year planning for the wedding DAY and they spend next to no money or time investing in the rest of the marriage that happens AFTER that day? Invest in your marriage, not just the wedding!

The Nuts and Bolts:
For those of you who are wondering, most visits on the average health plan run about the same as your deductible for your regular Dr. visits. If you're worried about your privacy, pay with cash. The only paper trail is then what is kept in the office with your counselor. Additionally many Christian counselors offer a 'sliding scale' through a non-profit arm of the practice. There really isn't much of a reason for you not to get the help you need. Don't rely on people who have no degree to give you all of your advice. Treat it like an oil change or tune-up. It's not as scary as you may think and frankly I think it's the weak man who refuses to keep his mind and emotional life in balance.

I've personally found this to be invaluable to me in my ministry, marriage and personal life. Do yourself, your family and your church a favor... go talk with someone.

posted by Tally Wilgis @ Thursday, October 18, 2007

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