We need each other. The saying from Proverbs is true:
“As iron sharpens iron, so does a man sharpen the face of his friend.”
Robert Louis Stevenson put it this way:
“No man is useless while he has a friend.”
Dr John Tickell, a specialist in the keys for a long life, talks about the importance of the Ace of Clubs. His thesis is that we all need friends and family, and warm societal groupings (i.e. clubs), to live long and healthy lives.
That is why, when federal and state governments started to lock down Australian society in mid-March 2020, the team at Dads4Kids became genuinely concerned. Yes, we needed to respond to the COVID-19 virus in some organised fashion for the greater good, but sometimes the cure can be worse than the disease.
Any meeting with more than two in attendance was banned. Everyone was told to isolate and stay at home. This, in some cases, can be good if we have family at home, but these days many people live on their own, or may even be cut off from family.
In late March 2020, I heard from some guys in the fire department that several men had jumped off the notorious suicide spot called The Gap in Sydney. I knew at the time that this would just be the tip of the iceberg. Sadly, this has proved correct.
There has been a 25% increase in the suicide rate due to coronavirus and the associated knock-on effect, including economically and relationally. This means that the extra death toll from suicide will most likely be higher than the death toll from the disease itself.
The Dads4Kids Board could see this coming. That’s why we held a very important consultation for men called the Date with Destiny Zoom call on 3 April 2020. It was a time to listen to what men had to say and try to formulate a plan.
After that call we decided to run a ten-week online Courageous Course in groups for Dads via Zoom. This was a first for Dads4Kids, but it proved to be both popular and powerful. Full credit to Peter Lim and Paul Lassig for seeing the opportunity before I could. Both men then agitated for an online Men’s Leadership Summit through our Zoom video conferencing facility.
Personally, I was doubtful, but after hearing some of the stories from the Courageous Course, including Joel Colley’s amazing work bringing men together via Zoom in Perth WA, I became a believer.
So last Saturday, 8 August 2020, digital history was made when approximately 150 men met together in live groups and online groups from all over Australia at the online Men’s Leadership Summit.
The results, all things being considered, were utterly spectacular. I didn’t think it could be so revolutionary, but it was. Men don’t lie about these sorts of things.
“The Men’s Leadership Summit was incredible. Encouraging, uplifting and enlightening.
It was a sacred space for men to share their heart.” ~ Nat
“The two speakers were my highlight. Allan and Dave were inspirational and challenged us all. They left all the men with vision, hope and plans for their futures.” ~ Rob
“Things were looking up (in my marriage), but now they are already on another level… Saturday’s Summit was one of the best days of my life. The Men’s Leadership Summit has changed my life and my family’s life. It reconnected me with God, brought clarity to my thinking and reminded me that I have a purpose.
I’m hungry for more goodness, so purchased the online Courageous Fathering Course, which I hope to start working through in the next few days.
Please also pass on my very best wishes and thanks to Paul for the incredible effort involved in putting the Summit together. He deserves a medal.” ~ John
“The Men’s Leadership Summit is an environment where men can share their hopes, dreams, triumphs and failures.” ~ Rob
“Phenomenal day. Many thanks to Dads4Kids for my graduation certificate for what was an excellent leadership summit.
Thanks again for all the hard work. Specific mention to Paul for job well done in the relatively seamless Zoom conference (not an easy undertaking)!” ~ Alex
“Loved the session on how to apologise and say sorry. Apologising is a lost art that I needed to relearn.” ~ Graeme
“This was the best day of male bonding I have had in a long, long time. Thank you so much for a truly great experience and an awakening!” ~ Francis
Such comments from these men are small fraction of what happened on that day. How many other marriages were saved? How many other men were brought back from the verge of suicide? Who knows?
“Men lead lives of quiet desperation.”
It’s true, but last Saturday, men were no longer quiet on the issues they face. They shared them, they cried about them, and they laughed at them.
It is always good to know as a man, you are not alone. As the poet John Donne said,
“No man is an island.”
Thankfully, the iron did sharpen the iron. We all realised that we share the same feelings and sometimes the same successes.
I have often struggled to explain what happens at these men’s events. The whole is always greater than the sum of the parts! Yes, we have great speakers. Dr Allan Meyer and Dave Hodgson were on fire on the day. Having said that, it was the input from each of the men in the individual groups that was the icing on the cake.
The Men’s Leadership Summit was the rocket launcher and the men who came were the rockets. I would prefer to call them missiles on a mission of hope and love — and doesn’t the world need more hope and love?
We all need other men in our lives, whether they be mentors, examples to follow or just plain ole good friends. No man is an island.
Find some men who can encourage you and begin to hang out together, even if it is on a digital platform. That is better than nothing.
Be encouraged. Yes, times are tough, but as the man said,
“When the going gets tough, the tough get going.”
PS: We are planning to start a digital Courageous Course for groups on Monday 28 September 2020. Maybe some digital get-togethers in between. We have people requesting that we do a second summit. We will keep you informed!
Thanks for your support and prayers.[Photo by Tyler Nix on Unsplash]
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