Most men, myself included, have minimal inclination towards genuine relating. We'd rather talk about sports, the stock market, our work, cars/boats/hunting...just about anything other than what's actually going on in our own souls.
Of course, this is most often because we have no idea what's going on in our own souls. Which is perhaps not a uniquely male problem. But our inability to communicate much beyond the surface of events and facts makes it perhaps all the more likely that we'll never get to that level of discovery.
And so it was with great reservation that I sent the following invitation last July to a group of guys from church:
So I’m reading Romans 1 and three things seem to mark Paul’s life: prayer, community and mission. And I’m thinking that I could use help in all three areas.
And I’m realizing that I believe deeply in the power and value of community and that I spend much of my life building it for other people but don’t partake of it myself as much as I need to or should.
And I’m thinking that my life would be much richer if I had a group of guys who (to use Sean Jecko’s wonderful image) served as a sort of ‘board of directors’ in my life, to discern wise decisions from foolish ones, to encourage me in my husbanding/fathering at home to my wife and kids as well as to pray for me in the mission God has called me to on campus.
I’m thinking I’d love a group of guys who shared life together a little more deliberately, recklessly, courageously, humbly, boldly. To remind one another about the gospel when we forget it, to encourage and challenge and push and question and learn from one another.
From this invitation, Fight Club was born. It was six of us initially, then five.
Over the course of our year together, nearly all of us had seismic opportunities, challenges, transitions, and/or family issues to deal with. Some of those were once-in-a-lifetime, forks in the road. Some ended well, others not as we would have liked.
Over the course of our year together, we learned to be a community of guys who cared for each other. For some of us, the question, "how is it with your soul?" was a familiar and easy one to engage. For others of us, the question and the accompanying new language it required was difficult at first.
We listened to one another's stories. We received the different gifts we each brought to the table. We shared about our lives each week and we went to battle in prayer for one another. We stuck it out even after a stretch around December where we didn't meet for several weeks and I wondered if Fight Club was over and done with.
It wasn't. The Lord had significant work for us to do together this spring.
And then, it became clear that the season of Fight Club was over. Several guys are leading new small groups this fall or are eager to do a small group Bible study with their wives. Kelly and I are in a new church and needing to really root-in there.
So we closed out last night. Each guy took a turn in the hot seat. The guy in the hot seat shared how God had used Fight Club in his life over the course of the past year.
Then each of us affirmed the guy in the hot seat, told him what we've appreciated about him. Then each of us exhorted the guy in the hot seat--spoke specifically into what it will look like for that guy to follow the Lord, called them to take off sin and press on towards Christ.
The guys were generous with their affirmation and spot-on with their exhortations. When it was my turn in the hot seat, they encouraged me greatly in my gifts and their warnings and exhortations for what it would mean for me to continue toward Christ were spot-on. We knew each other, loved each other and wanted Christ for one another. A marvelous and rare gift of grace.
I've been in a bunch of small groups over the years. Some have been fantastic and others just sort of average. But I don't know if I've ever had a group of guys who were more willing to talk about the deepest, hardest, most raw places of our souls as I've had with this group of guys.
Thank, Fight Club guys. You've been a tremendous gift to me and my family and my work this past year. Most guys go their whole lives without conversations the caliber of which we participated in nearly weekly. I pray for each of you to continue to grow in your love for the Lord and for each of you to find men who will continue to ask "and how is it with your soul?"
And I pray that for each of you, o faithful blog readers, as well...especially for the guys.