Once a month I gather with a small group of men in a backyard that sits atop a cliff overlooking a sparkling California valley. At a glance we would appear to have little in common. We are black and white men, old and young men, wealthy and poor men, but men nonetheless, gathering for a purpose larger than the outward trappings we bear.
We call the group The Firepit. My good friend and mentor Guy started it. He is a renaissance man and friend to all. He is also a dad of four boys and has a heart for men, connection, faith, and community. After the laughing and talking has died down, we all find ourselves gazing at the fire in a more contemplative posture. Guy asks each of us in the circle to share the joys and trials of our lives. So, one by one, each man takes a few minutes to share his life, his dreams, his triumphs, his doubts, and his struggles.
When it’s my turn, I can feel a twinge of nervous energy as I mentally and emotionally face the fear that comes with opening myself up to the men around me. “Hey, guys, my name is Nathan,” I say, keeping my eyes on the flames.
“Hello, Nathan,” the group says back in a slightly off-tune baritone.
Then I carefully but confidently share my life with the men around me. I tell what I’m happy about, what I’m struggling with, what I’m hoping for, and what I’m trying to heal from. I don’t do this because it’s comfortable, I do it’s because it’s cathartic, healthy, and good.
I finish and am met with a chorus of “Thanks, Nathan.”
I signal to the man at my right that it’s his turn to share his life with the group.
Even Jesus, the Son of God, didn’t do life alone.
When He was beginning His ministry, He called twelve men around Him to share in the work of redeeming hearts. He lived with them, ate and cooked with them, laughed, fought, and cried with them, and in doing so, He changed the course of history.
There’s nothing magical about The Firepit, nothing that fixes all the problems in my life or takes away the everyday struggles. But afterward, I walk out to my car feeling a bit lighter, more hopeful, less alone, and I carry a greater sense of purpose back into the life I have been called to.
What are some ways you can begin to invest in friendships with other men of character in your life?