In 2017, former US Surgeon General Vivek Murthy identified the most common threat to public health that he had witnessed: not heart disease, diabetes, or cancer-but loneliness. Isolation and lack of social connections, he wrote in Harvard Business Review, “are associated with a reduction in lifespan similar to that caused by smoking fifteen cigarettes a day and even greater than that associated with obesity. Loneliness is also associated with a greater risk of cardiovascular disease, dementia, depression, and anxiety.”
Men are even more affected by this loneliness epidemic which is most often accompanied with the feelings of depression and despair.
In my own personal life I have felt that feeling of quiet desperation. That feeling of extreme loneliness and isolation. It is a hopeless feeling that can lead to a path of soul killing destruction.
Thankfully, God brought two men into my life at just the right time to help me get out of that state of quiet desperation.
One of the main reasons that men often times live in quiet desperation is they are reluctant to show vulnerability or ask for support. Men are less likely to seek out other men when they are struggling because they feel like it is a sign of weakness.
In reality, asking for help is one of the most courageous things we can do. Being vulnerable is coming from a place of strength not weakness.
One of the biggest problems I have realized since starting my men’s ministry is that men don’t have a place where we can show up and be vulnerable. Men do want to be transparent and share their darkest truths, but we haven’t done a great job in creating those environments.
As warriors we are looking for something different. We want camaraderie and shared purpose. We want to be shoulder to shoulder in shared experiences. When we are shoulder to shoulder sharing something challenging or purposeful is when we develop trust and a level of openness that we as men aren’t used to.
I lead a men’s discipleship group called Bible and Barbells out of the gym I train out of called The Body which stands for The Body of Christ. It’s a Christian gym where I am fortunate enough to do ministry out of. We study a Christian devotional for the first thirty minutes followed by thirty minutes of a strength training circuit.
I have seen so much life change and relationship building through this ministry. It has been quite astounding. I hear men pour out their struggles around their battle with pornography, relationship struggles, feelings of inadequacy, career crisis, struggles with anger and other challenges we as men face.
This is an environment where men care share, be vulnerable and recognize we are not alone. It’s through this practice of being vulnerable where we draw strength to be the spiritual leaders in our families, communities and churches. Without this shared community of strong Christian men I know we would continue to live lives of quiet desperation, depression and isolation.
I led my first Spiritual Warriors Unite Men’s Retreat a few weeks ago. It was a powerful weekend where a group of men got away to reclaim our inner warrior. Life has a way of beating us up and from time to time we need to get away and have some good quality bro time along with time to connect with God.
One of my biggest take-aways from the weekend was that life change happens at the dinner table. After we got finished eating we would sit around after each meal and we shared what was on our heart. We all learned from each other.
We tackled questions like, what does it mean to be a man in this day and age and how can we be stronger spiritual leaders? We shared great inspirational books we have read and we all went around the table discussing what our morning rituals look like.
I know I left the retreat a better man than when I first arrived. There is something powerful when a group of godly men get together and share our hearts. When we are transparent and vulnerable and willing to learn from one another.
It is sad to me that so many men are living in quiet desperation. Trust me, I get it, I used to be one of them. My vision for my ministry is to help men get out of quiet desperation by being in community together. Where we build a faith and fitness community that inspires men to be stronger spiritual leaders.
I believe it starts with men having the courage to be vulnerable. Finding a community of godly men who are willing to share their darkest truths and not just talk about sports. Of course that can be a part of it, but there is so much more to life.
As men we are called to be spiritual leaders. There is no way we can be the spiritual leaders we are called to be when we are living in isolation. We all need a group of men where we can share our darkest truths around the dinner table. Life change happens around the dinner table.
I want to challenge you to be a man, reach out for support. Get out of your quiet desperation. It’s up to you to take action. Find at least one friend you can be transparent with. Find a group of godly men who will support you on your journey of becoming more like Jesus, the ultimate warrior.
Troy Ismir, MS
Spiritual Warrior Coach