A new group started at my parish in 2010. It wasn’t like the other groups that existed. This one had something different. I can’t put it into words but there is a power of the Holy Spirit that encompasses our meetings and makes men want to be better. It was founded on this proverb:
‘As iron sharpens iron, so man sharpens his fellow man.’
The Iron Disciples group focuses on our roles as husbands, fathers, and most importantly, disciples of God. We don’t have any strict rules or format. We bring our experiences, troubles, and triumphs to the table and we talk it out. These men aren’t Holy Rollers, they aren’t clergy, they aren’t “Holier than thou”. They are real, everyday men.
Don’t think you need a fellowship group in your life? Can’t bring yourself to break down that wall to your heart? Trust me, I was there. I will tell you exactly why I need this group and you might too.
1) Because I am weak
I grew up idolizing my dad. In my mind, he was always right. Even if I didn’t agree with him, I knew he had it right and I had it wrong. Faith was his #1 priority and he told us constantly. I will be the first to tell you that I am not as strong as my dad or any of the men in my group. There is no way I can be a good enough man to get my family to Heaven on my own. So I turn to Jesus Christ. I take my weaknesses to Him constantly. I may not be the best husband or father in the world and I may never be, but that doesn’t matter. As long as I rely on God’s grace, I have the ultimate example showing me the way.
Iron Disciples shows me that I am not alone. I turn to the Father in prayer and sometimes to just talk about things. My Iron Disciple brothers make it well known that I can turn to them with those same prayers, victories and defeats.
2) Spiritual Growth
To quote Big Tom Callahan from Tommy Boy, “you’re either growing or you’re dying, there ain’t no third direction”. If you are lukewarm, Christ said it himself; He will spit you out. You have to be on fire and the only way to keep that fire going is to GROW.
You can’t grow spiritually by yourself. You can make some great progress but hearing stories, experiences, challenges, struggles, insight on faith, etc. from fellow disciples of Christ is what grows you in your faith. In these meetings, I have heard stories that could be made into movies*. Anyone who attends even one meeting will find it impossible to not grow spiritually.
I struggle in several areas in my life. It is easy for me to get discouraged and turn away from the light. It’s easy to spiral. Before this group, before my wife, I would have a good stretch and then I would stumble and keep stumbling. It would be weeks or even months before I turned it around.
This group mitigates that risk for me. If I show up and there is something wrong, these guys will know. If I stop coming for a stretch, I promise you, I am getting emails, texts, and phone calls. I am not saying we are the Jehovah’s Witness knocking at your door, but what I am saying is that if you want to be, you will be held accountable. Like our Lord holds us accountable, like the Church holds us accountable.
4) Because we are under constant spiritual attack
We live in a society that celebrates moral relativism. “Do what feels good” is a motto that permeates in everything you see. TV, movies, commercials, billboards, magazines, friends, family, co-workers. At every turn there is something that is “mainstream” that is in direct conflict with our faith. As husbands and fathers, we not only are charged with defending ourselves from these attacks, but we must defend our wives, children, and everyone around us. This is a tall order for any man. Of course we have Christ on our side, but having a solid group here on earth multiplies that strength. You are never alone in the fight.
I walk out of our meetings on FIRE for Jesus Christ. I am ready to pounce on the week. I am ready to go into my home, my workplace, the community and be that beacon of light. Nothing can bring me down. Right? Yeah, I do great. Until I don’t. And I fail. Being constantly bombarded and intentionally desensitized to what is going on around us takes a toll. By the time the next meeting rolls around, I am out of gas. I don’t have it in me. I need those guys to get me fired up again.
I never served in the military, but I know that if you are going into a battle, you are going in fully loaded, gear, ammunition, armor. If you are fighting hard, you are going to run out of everything you went in with. You need to get resupplied to win that fight. Those men, this group, is what keeps me in the fight. We’re in a spiritual battle every minute of every day. You need all of the weapons you can get and Iron Disciples is a powerful one.
In short, I am apart of this group because I owe it to my family. I am apart of this group because I owe it to Christ. I owe it them to be the best husband, father, brother, and son that I can possibly be. This isn’t about me. Being at those meetings is not a night for me to get out of the house and shirk my duties as a husband and father. In fact, my wife could probably use me at home. I work a lot so giving up a night with my wife and daughter can be very tough. But I know why I am doing it. She and I both understand that this makes me better and makes our family better.
This group is about full surrender. No man is there for himself. We are there for Him. I challenge each and every one of you to join a fellowship group. If you don’t have one, start one. Don’t think you can start one? Think about this:
“God doesn’t call the qualified. He qualifies the called.”
*Everything said at meetings is confidential and that is sacred.