Irons sharpens Iron. This was a term I have heard all my life but really didn’t fully understand what it meant until recently. Growing up I always had the image that to be a man you had to be tough, rough, firm and strong. Which you do. But now as a father of 3 boys I realize that isn’t the only face or hat you have to wear. You have to be tender, humble, emotional, compassionate, and vulnerable. It’s a balance.
My 3 year old, Bishop, has been really emotional lately. To the point where if he wants something (say an ‘entire box of gummies’) and doesn’t understand why he can’t have them he breaks down and cries. I think he is just having a hard time coming up with the words and understanding why that wouldn’t be right and has no other options but to cry. But instead of me saying “Buddy stop crying, big boys don’t cry!” I say “let’s talk about it”, give him a hug, and try to explain why. To be honest this has taken a lot of work for me. One of my biggest struggles is my short fused temper and anger. It would be easy to quickly react, yell at the top of lungs, and intimidate him to be scared to change his behavior, but what I have found is that this parenting style is destructive, not effective, and sets the wrong example for my kids. Yes, I still fail from time to time, but it is something that I have been trying to work on to become a better man.
This change in perspective really has come from a number of places but most importantly from God. At the end of the day when I sit and pray and connect directly with Him I hear His voice “I am proud of you”, “Keep improving”, “Raise your boys to be men”, “Live like I did”. This has helped me reflect on all of the places where I am lacking and submit to Him that I need help.
Secondly my wife. Some of you may know this already but Nicki and I work at the same company, separated by a single floor and few cubicles. I believe this dynamic has allowed us to grow closer together. At the end of a stressful day we can relate. If I have the glow from my laptop working late at night she gets it. But above it gives us time to talk, connect, reflect, and we do this on our commute in and out of work. Here in these 15-30 Min conversations we talk about life, which 85% of the time means the kids. Sometimes we laugh out loud, sometimes it is dead silent because we are mad at each other, sometimes we cry, but everyday we get the ability to reflect and improve.
Next is my family. I could write a lot about how each of them individually impacted me and helped me shape into the man I have become. I will be honest, the business of life takes over and sometimes we go weeks without seeing them but they are always on my mind. On Sundays we all come together to have a family dinner. We make the hour drive up with the kids, often it feels like we dine and dash, but every time I close the front door and pull out of the drive down Kendall Street I think to myself “I can’t wait until our boys come over for dinner with their kids”. It is an amazing reflection of the way we were raised as kids. Yes, there will always be the “I would do it differently than my parents” moments, but honestly there aren’t many.
Finally, my friends. Over the years my circle has expanded and contracted. I believe that God puts people into your life for a purpose and there are different seasons. I have some close friends that I have had forever, some I talk with on occasion, and some newer friends that I share life with. Every friendship has something to give and you have something to give back. Whether you are sharing a cup of coffee or a cocktail, or sending a handwritten letter or quick text, every connection matters.
Now that our culture has shifted to engage through social platforms I have found myself reaching out more via phone call or text to now get so caught up in it all. I’ve recognized that there are many friends that don’t have Facebook or Instagram, and I haven’t connected with them in a while, so I am actively changing that.
Currently, a lot of my closest friends are from church and this is where I started to see more meaning to the term “iron sharpens iron”. I helped start up a Men’s Ministry on Monday nights were we meet from 6:30-8:30 in the cafe at church. Originally, is started as a bible study that was structured with specific content to guide the conversation. But as the group has evolved it has become a place for other men to come, share life and lean on each other. The dynamic is powerful, men open up about their lives (the good the bad and the ugly) because the environment and bonds create a safe place. The way I am explaining it sounds like a support group, but it is more a family. I have been able to reflect and sharpen my own knowledge with having the ability to impact other men’s lives. It truly has been life changing.
Actually the term “iron sharpens iron” comes from the book of Proverbs. But what is impactful is the second part to the scripture.
Proverbs 27:17 As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.
It isn’t about a jagged piece of metal getting hammered into shape from another piece of metal. It is the human connection. Whether it’s between my 3 year old son, wife, family or friends every connection makes a difference. We as humans are made to make each other better and learn from each other.
So my parting thoughts are this. If you are having a hard time- ask for help. If you see an opportunity to give back- serve. If someone you care about you haven’t connected in a while – make the effort. Make sure you always see that every connection matters.