As a man I am stupid.

Let’s be honest fellas, we men are ALL stupid.

I’m sure there are a few women reading this too, but please, hold your applause ladies. You also suffer from your unique flavor of gender-common foolishness.

As a man, I often operate under the ridiculous auspice that I am fully capable of doing things on my own.

 "I've acquired a certain set of skills."

"I've acquired a certain set of skills."

Though I might think of myself like Liam Neeson in TAKEN, boasting an impressive skill set with a repertoire to match. Every so often I’ll find myself buzzing along, at a million miles per hour, only to come crashing up against my limits.

Take a fine July day, for example:

I had undertaken the hobby of mountaineering in recent years, and on a lark, I decided to attempt the Mountaineers Route on Mt. Whitney, the highest peak in the lower 48.

Due to the impulsive nature of this trip, I hadn’t been able to line up a partner. Having a sizable list of summits under my belt, many of which were on well-marked trails with modest incline, I figured that I could swing this trip on my own.

Though I knew this trip would represent a significant jump in difficulty, my knowledge of this said fact failed to measure up to the reality of how hard this route would be.

I started my trip like many others: early start, breathing hard, and feeling hopeful for success. However as I took the cutoff from the main trail onto the Mountaineers Route I quickly got in over my head.

The incline was insanely steep, certain portions of the route thrust me out over big expanses of air, and I found my body unprepared for the uneven and rough terrain.

 Mount Whitney on the horizon, heading up...

Mount Whitney on the horizon, heading up...

Partway up, I began a traverse across a broad and sloping boulder field. The big boulders were unstable, each step producing a gravelly moan, threatening to shift under foot. Moving forward I placed both feet on a flat boulder. As I unweighted my left (uphill) foot, the boulder tilted under the uneven pressure from my right foot. The whole boulder spilled my body into the air.

Breathless from the sudden shift, my shins banged against a boulder bouncing me seven feet downhill. I smacked my head on a boulder bouncing another seven feet down the face. As I came to rest I sat bolt-upright.

I hope nobody saw that… I thought for a moment, embarrassed by my vanity. Looking around I was completely alone.

I checked my body, noticing a few sizable scrapes and the throbbing that heralds a sizable bruise. I checked my head and I didn’t think anything was broken, but my bell had been rung pretty good. I had a trickle of blood running down my temple across my face.

Shoot. I am REALLY lucky that I’m no more the worse for wear.

Shaking it off, I continued on. Though I feared further injury, I realized how much easier it would be to summit the peak and follow the trail back rather than try and backtrack through this death-trap.

It would be a couple of hours before I saw another person. I ended up making the summit and following the trail back, but I was shaken.

I had slipped on trails before, but I had never before come so close to a bad injury in the backcountry, and in a trail-less region no less!

Since that trip I have learned a number of lessons. Go with others when I can, but at least let others know where I am going when I go alone, and the value of turning around and leaving the mountain for another day (I also have a helmet and an emergency beacon).

However, In this case I made the mistake of being unprepared by being unassisted. My being alone could have meant a worse outcome for me when I fell… when my skills failed to prepare me… when LIFE hit me.

Had someone else been there and I was knocked unconscious or worse, I would have had someone to get help, tend my injuries, or look out and help me avoid dangerous situations in the first place.

 We think we are lone wolves... More like this.

We think we are lone wolves... More like this.

As men, we happen to be especially guilty of lone-wolf syndrome. What’s ironic about the analogy of a “lone-wolf” is that lone wolves are an anomaly. Wolves, like people, happen to be highly communal.

So... you lone-wolves out there reading this; whether your going-solo is habitual or a recent development, you may come to church and wonder “Why should I participate in men’s ministry?”

Firstly, I would like to remind you that there is free breakfast.

Secondly, (and of chief import) you might be skilled, smart, tough… but life will always be more skillful, smarter, and iron-tough. God empowers us and cares for us, but he also encourages us that we are not meant to live life alone.

Like the Bible says, “a cord of three-strands is not easily broken.” Or as an old African wisdom proverb states: “If you want to go fast, go alone, if you want to go far, go together.”

So clear your plans for just a couple of hours this weekend August 15th. RSVP for the event at thesanctuarychurch.com/ADVANCE, and join us 8am-10am for some breakfast, worship, and the chance to bond with a couple of men over your affinity of cars, tools, or mutual disdain for the state of the American Political Landscape.

- Joseph Gregory

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