Is there ever a word that keeps showing up in your life over and over again? It’s that tap on the shoulder, that voice in your head, that desire in your heart. The word that keeps getting shown to me is community. Which is kind of ironic as I have become a master of isolation over the course of a life time. Isolation is my default button when I feel overwhelmed and don’t want to deal with the challenges in life.
What God is showing me is heart transformation happens in community. Of course we need our alone time with God, I have been doing that consistently for over eight years now. What I am learning is the importance of community. A place to be authentic and vulnerable. Without that component of non-judgmental accountability it will be very challenging to become the person God created us to be.
There are two components to heart transformation. A relationship with Jesus is the vertical component that helps us to become more like Christ. The horizontal component to heart transformation is our relationship with other people. Proverbs 27:17 states, “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.”
This played out recently on a personal level with me last week. I lift weights once a week with a great friend. Our workouts are as much about spiritual transformation as they are about physical transformation. We have a relationship where we can be real and vulnerable with each other. He spoke the truth into me and encouraged me based on some of the struggles I have shared with him over the past year.
He showed me the love of Christ by speaking words of encouragement into my heart. Of course I have taken this battle to God many times over, but there is something about sharing our battle with other believers that brings it home. What I have discovered through being in community is so many of us our facing the same battles. Why go it alone?
God recently put this strong desire on my heart to create a community for men where we can be completely real and vulnerable. To me this is church. It’s men showing brotherly love to each other. Learning how to become more like Christ through scripture, prayer and shared struggles and victories. It’s having our hearts transformed in community.
This community is called Spiritual Warriors Unite that meets once a month at the gym I train at called The Body, which stands for the Body of Christ. How cool is that? Romans 12:4-5 says, “For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.
We are developing a community or church at The Body that is caring for the Body of Christ. After all the church is people. It’s not a building or an institution. It’s quite simply followers of Jesus serving and caring for others.
Heart transformation happens in community, but so many people isolate themselves from community when they are hurting, depressed, struggling with sin and addiction or feel unworthy. I totally get that as isolation has been my default for many years of my life. I have learned the hard way that things never turn out good when we go into isolation mode.
Here are three things I have learned to do to get out of isolation and into community for a heart transformation.
Find one or two guys you can be 100% real and vulnerable with:
This has been the biggest game changer in my life. I have two guys in my life I can share my heart and soul with. I know I can tell them anything and I will not be judged. I can share my heart, my struggles and my dark side knowing that they will love me unconditionally.
This is a rare thing especially for guys. We talk about real matters of the heart. We don’t try to fix each other. We listen to each other, showing compassion and caring for one another. If you don’t have somebody like this in your life you are missing that horizontal component of life change. Pray and ask God to bring a brother in Christ into your life that can speak the words of truth and love into your life.
Join a men’s Bible study:
Being in the Word of God shoulder to shoulder with other brothers is transformative. I recently joined a men’s Bible study at a local church. At first I was hesitant to do so because I wanted a morning where I didn’t have to be somewhere at a certain time early in the morning. I also love my quiet time alone (there is that isolation piece shining through.) I made myself go and it has been one of the best decisions I have made.
The pastor is a masterful teacher of the Word. The insights I have gained in a few short weeks has already transformed my heart. I have also developed friendships with other men I never would have had the chance to know on a personal level. Take a chance and join a men’s Bible study. It will transform you heart.
Be a spiritual mentor to someone else:
As followers of Jesus we are called to love and serve others. We are not meant to keep our faith to ourselves. We are called to disciple other men. This will transform our heart as well as the person we are mentoring.
When we know we are making a difference in someone else’s life it changes us on the inside as well. One of the best things we can do when we are hurting and suffering is to use our pain to do good. That has been a basic principle in my life over the past eight years. It’s amazing how God uses the suffering in our life to make a difference in other people’s lives.
God has used my pain of divorce to mentor and counsel other people who have gone and are going through the trials of divorce. He is using my story to help others to see that there is life after divorce. “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28.
Isolation only leads to a dark and lonely place full of depression, sadness and despair. Being in community leads to heart transformation, peace and love. Find another guy you trust, join a men’s Bible study and be a mentor to another person and you will see heart transformation at its finest.
Heart transformation happens in community. Don’t go it alone. Take that first step and reach out to me or another brother. It takes courage and strength to put yourself out there and to create a new possibility for yourself. Choose life not despair.
Troy Ismir, MS
Spiritual Warrior Coach