You Will Die On Your Own
Tom Cruise is the bane of my wife’s existence. And unfortunately for her, he’s on in our house often.
On lazy Saturday afternoons when I’m resting from a week of hard work, surfing TV for entertainment, a movie of his is bound to be on. When I come across one, I can’t help but watch and it drives my wife crazy.
She and I both agree that he’s not a particularly good actor. Tom Cruise is good at one thing and one thing only: playing Tom Cruise. But the one thing I cannot resist is the kind of character he continues to play. That of the lone hero. A solo, one-man army who by the end defeats a multitude, gets the girl, and saves the world.
Jason Bourne, James Bond, and just about anything lately with Liam Neeson follow the same format. And they’re popular for a reason: the heroes in these films and what they do resonate with men. They tantalize a part that exists inside each of us to be the hero of the story. They embody a rugged, self-reliance we associate with masculinity and they represent, in some way, what we hope to be.
Unfortunately, Christian men often tackle their lives in much the same way: as a lone hero. They attempt to take on life’s greatest challenges attempting to prove to themselves and others that they can do it on their own. And they don’t need anyone’s help to do it, not even God.
As attractive as the idea is, the lone hero isn’t what God intends for us to be. And unlike the movies, attempting to live the Christian life in such a way won’t end in triumph but tragic defeat.
Why We Go It Alone
It’s easy to see the reason why acting like a lone hero can be a temptation for men. To be sure, God created men for noble purposes. He’s bestowed upon us the sacred responsibilities of being husbands, fathers, and leaders. So, to be the protectors and providers of our families, as well as those around us, is a heroic calling indeed. And without a doubt, God wants us to do those things well.
But, our pride can quickly subvert the reasons for the calling God has placed on us. That’s when everything falls apart.
Our identity can become rooted in our ability rather than in the one who gives it to us. When that happens, we view the challenges of life as a solo endeavor; one where we measure our worth by our ability to handle them alone. And the weight of that expectation can be crushing.
We’ll go about life attempting to prove to ourselves and others that we have everything figured out. Or, we become so afraid of letting the world know we don’t. The need for help becomes a sign of failure and we don’t want to let anyone know just how badly we need it.
The consequences of living life this way are disastrous. It will end up leaving you isolated, on your own as you attempt to conquer life’s greatest challenges. And that’s where the enemy does his best work.
Lone heroes don’t ever conquer the Christian life alone. Rather, they become something different: stragglers from the defense of the herd, waiting to be picked off by encroaching predators. There are many. And whether you realize it or not, they’re waiting for you.
A Good Support System
The life of a lone hero may seem glamorous but it isn’t what God intends for you. One of the things I often echo to men in fellowship is that the Christian life is not meant to be lived alone. And no matter how much we want to prove to this world and ourselves that we don’t need anyone else’s help, we’re not made to be self-sufficient. No man is an island and the Christian man is no exception.
Being the men God wants us to be, while it may look like an individual accomplishment, is actually a team effort. Behind the lives of those men who are “running the race” successfully are doing so because of the help and accountability of other men. Their lives aren’t a lone-hero story. It’s one of teamwork.
While your impulse might be to “go it alone”, your success is actually dependent on the opposite. It’s done with the help of others. The truth is, you become the man God wants you to be when you surround yourself with men who can help get you there. Not when you deplete yourself of their company.
But just as much as you need support, you need to support others. Because while there are men who are struggling to follow after Christ by going it alone, there are also many that are being left alone.
There’s a godly responsibility that we all share to help other brothers in need. This means we can’t just be reactive, responding when they ask for help. If we struggle with our pride, we can be certain that others struggle with theirs too. We need to be proactive, look for opportunities to initiate fellowship, and remind others that they don’t have to face the trials of this life alone.
Don’t Go It Alone
The lone hero is like much of entertainment: a fantasy. And that’s why men enjoy it so much. It’s because the story format is centered around one person and what he can accomplish by his own strength. And what man wouldn’t want to be that hero?
But the Christian life isn’t a fantasy. It can get messy and the valleys we have to walk through, at times, are deep and dark. And unlike the lone heroes of movies, you will die on your own.
God wants us to take our responsibilities as men seriously. But he doesn’t want us to make it without help. You’re not here to prove how little of God you need to live. You’re here to live life dependent on him and with the help he provides through others.
The idea of lone heroes is best left where it belongs: in fiction.
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