Iron Sharpens Iron
While there is the occasional story of the athlete who trains completely alone and competes with no coach or trainer, it is a very rare situation. Why? Strategy, vision, discipline, planning, implementation and motivation are simply stronger and more effective with a team. A boxer may be fighting his opponent alone in the ring, but his coach and trainers are in his corner.
Has Peyton Manning ever played without a coaching staff or trainers? No. Has Lebron James ever started a game without being under the leadership of a coach and the help of a trainer? Again—no. But these guys are incredible athletes. Yes. Exactly the point. Amazing talent needs synergistic support.
God has just wired us to need each other to grow and to help others to grow. Both scenarios create growth as “iron sharpens iron”—one blade may be longer and stronger, but even scraped against a smaller, lesser blade, both are still sharpened.
As Christian men, we need help and we must offer help. Think of it like a mountain climbing team with you in the middle. You are tied off to those above you, who have reached farther, but you are also tied to those below you, who have not yet reached where you are in the climb.
To grow and to keep growing, to stand strong and keep standing strong, we must involve ourselves in three areas—each of which require others standing with us.
Most species of goldfish and deer will only grow physically to the size their environments will support them. When moved or migrated to larger spaces, they will even begin to grow again. Our spirits are the same. In a spiritually fertile environment, we may grow to the potential of the space, but the opposite is true—placed in a weak environment, we struggle and even shrink. No matter your age, you will become who you hang out with.
Jesus would pull away from the crowds and refill His spirit by being with his 12, or at times just his 3. The constant community and interaction with men who believed and backed Him were crucial to His mission. The only thing Jesus did alone in His 3 years of ministry was die on the cross for our sins. He involved others in all other areas of His life. The same must be true for us. Our level of fellowship—those who believe in us and back us up—is crucial to our growth.
Having people around us who expect us to grow and to do the right thing is vital to our maturity. Hugging our neck when we make the right call and kicking our butt when we don’t is an important aspect of Christian brotherhood. Most men who fall do so because they are alone. Outside the herd is where we get picked off. Being intentional about keeping ourselves in check is wisdom and maturity in action.
Two can accomplish more than twice as much as one, for the results can be much better. If one falls, the other pulls him up; but if a man falls when he is alone, he’s in trouble. … And one standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer; three is even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken. —Ecclesiastes 4:9-10, 12 TLB