Working With “Pent Up” Men
How to Help Sick Model and Well Model Men Get Better
A lot of men we meet in our ministries are what we might call “pent up.” When we talk to them we get the feeling they don’t have many friends—they have a backlog of “unprocessed feelings.” How can you help them?
Step 1: Notice “Pent Up” Men
In your ministry to men, keep a sharp eye out for men who seem “pent up.” They need to talk. In other words, you sense they probably don’t have a trusted friend or group they can share problems and challenges with on a regular basis.
Step 2: Listen to “Pent Up” Men
Listen, or introduce them to someone who can listen. Don’t be afraid to hand off men to your other leaders—you’re only one person. Personally, I use a chain of command (although I don’t use militaristic language), but also remain open to the leading of the Spirit.
Step 3: Determine Whether “Sick Model” or “Well Model”
There are two kinds of pent up men—sick model and well model. More below.
Step 4: Connect the “Well-Model” Pent Up Man
These are your normal men with normal problems. A well-model man who is pent up just needs more trustable friends. It’s that simple. Get well-model men into small groups or one-on-one friendships. A trustworthy small group can give him an outlet to speak his mind. A weekly lunch or breakfast buddy (I’ve had one for 27 years) is like the release valve on a pressure cooker.
Step 5: Refer the “Sick Model” Pent Up Man
Let’s face it: Everyone is somewhat dysfunctional. But some men are systemically dysfunctional. In other words, they are beyond the threshold of “normal” problems. Their lives are out of kilter, they’re miserable, their lives don’t work, they leave a trail of broken relationships, and they never seem to get better. After a while, you cringe when you see them coming, because you feel like they take up too much of your time, don’t seem sensitive to the needs of others, and never get better. This man needs professional Christian counseling.
Once you have a man who has told you the same problem several times, and he has rejected your advice, it’s time to challenge him. For example, “Bob, your problem is beyond my training. I really think you could benefit from professional Christian counseling. I’ve been through counseling myself and found it very helpful. I have the names of two that I highly recommend. How does that sound to you?” You will often find men have been to many counselors, and they really don’t want to change. These men will drain every bit of emotional energy you have unless you put up some boundaries. Others will embrace the idea. They will get better. Their marriages will be restored, their children will come around, joy will return, you will feel the unbelievable satisfaction of helping a man change his life by becoming a disciple of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
For the glory of Christ and no other reason,