The best relationships often happen organically. You make a connection with someone either through personality compatibility, common likes/dislikes (I love anyone who hates the Giants), and/or common acquaintance, and that relationship develops and grows into a close friendship in which you both learn and grow as a direct result of the other. These are often the most rewarding and beneficial discipleship relationships. I would also suggest that there are many opportunities in life that we guys especially don’t take advantage of because we don’t think of it, or because we are “too manly” and so we assume asking for help admits we can’t do it.
Lawn work is a great opportunity to invite teens over to help and have a time of getting to know each other, teach on work ethic, instruct on useful homeowner skills, etc… Once the work is done lunch or just sitting around with a cold drink is a good opportunity to have some good conversation.
Exercise provides a unique means of developing a relationship. D-ing up someone in a game of basketball, giving them an excellent pass for an easy layup, riding around in a golf cart, or spotting them for their last rep is a great means of establishing a relationship that can open doors for discipleship.
Sporting events are a fun way of getting to know other men. The car ride there, if it’s baseball the conversation throughout the game, if it’s hockey the high fiving or cheering together after a big hit all help plant seeds of friendship. These friendships can be watered and become beneficial discipleship relationships in which we become more like Christ as a direct result of God using the men in our life to sanctify and motivate us.
As dads these are prime opportunities to connect with our sons or daughters. I remember 6AM rides to the rink to play pickup hockey with my dad and his buddies. The best conversations I’ve had with my dad have been on rides to Ottawa to catch a hockey game together. There is a strange connection men feel when they get together and do stuff. I’m not knocking the early morning meeting to study Scripture. I have found those profoundly beneficial in my own growth. But for maturity and sharpening we must not neglect the everyday opportunities God gives to build into others.
I think about the discipleship I’d like to be doing but look at my schedule think it’s impossible. Then I look at the things I need to do and the potential of using those time suckers to become relationship cultivators. May we increasingly think creatively how we might pour into faithful men who will be able to teach others also.