Retreat: (Noun) a place of refuge, seclusion, or privacy. (Verb) To withdraw, retire, or draw back, especially for shelter or seclusion.
As a man, why is important to get away and retreat with a group of other like-minded men? Why is it essential that every man needs squad time, solitude, and security found in hanging with other guys? Men’s retreats are something crucial for today’s generation. Drawing back and finding refuge in community is important. Community and support is found in solid men’s movements such as this.
Not long ago, I sat in a pub sharing a pint or two with a great mate of mine over here in Glasgow Scotland. We discussed the issue of men checking in with one another. This mate said that men need to take time to get away with each other and encourage one another on retreats. I wanted to high five him and fist bump the air because this was something that had been going through my thoughts. Allow me to explain…
One of my favorite films from quite a few years ago now, was Remember the Titans, a college football movie based on a true story. The film unfolds with two teams from completely different walks of life. They come together and achieve something unique as one team. Racial lines broke down, social and economic stigmas were eradicated. What was once a divided group of young, rowdy, egotistical college men became a strong and unified force under the guidance of Coach Boone.
Integration on and off the field did not take place over night. It took a solid football retreat where each young man was tested, tried and broken down. Bantering and sparring took place on the retreat between the Bertier and Big Ju, “Left Side! Strong Side! Left Side! Strong Side! Left Side! Strong Side!” The narrative comes to a crescendo within that scene. The group of men watching on took stock of who they were and forged a bond that no worldly or political agenda could break. That night they not only became men, they became the Titans.
It’s all about the Squad
Men’s retreats are beneficial for personal growth. I remember sitting in a seminary class discussing this issue with the head of history and theology. The late Professor Dr Donnie Patton over from the University of St Louis was a mad Cardinals fan and I was a Yankees fan.
I asked him why he thought it was important for men to get away with other men as a collective. His response was classic,
Ever since those immortal words sadly echoed from Cain’s mouth, ‘Am I my brother’s keeper?’ Mankind’s response has echoed back in time, ‘Yes we are!’
Being on a team and looking out for your brotherhood are important. All men need that time to get away and recharge with others and be boys. Yes I said it, BE BOYS! There is nothing wrong with foolish banter, laughing, horsing around, and just taking time out to be jovial. I love having banter while watching the WWE, UFC, the NFL and NHL with my mates.
More importantly as men, we need to be challenged. We need those group encounters to encourage one another to step up in life. It is equally important to check in from time to time with your crew of men by lifting them up.
It’s all about the Solitude
Even if you are not a man of faith, one of my favourite views of retreat has always been of the man Elijah that is found in ancient Scriptures (1 Kings 19). Here is a broken man that was called for a season to fulfill a certain role, but it was in that quiet place of solitude and reflection retreating to a cave that he became all too aware what his vision, his calling and his work in life should be. It was while alone on a mountain that he heard God whisper to him. What about yourself? Do you take time out in solitude, or time to simply reflect on the deeper things of life, and re-evaluate direction? Every man needs this, maybe not cave time, but certainly a cave time experience. Sit in the stillness, the solitude, and just enjoy the moment to reflect.
It’s all about the Security
Another reason men’s retreats are important is that guys need that safe place to talk openly. I’ll admit, I am one of these men. Each week or month, things pile up that affects my mood and attitude. Therefore that sacred and safe place of accountability with one another becomes vital. If it be in a mid-week small group, a locker room, a gym, a club, or a group, all men need that place where they can feel secure in sharing the issues that confront their lives. In Sydney, I did this with a small church. Whatever was shared among the men stayed among the men. It became a place where things got real, brutal, and honest. Raw vulnerability broke down barriers and men began to share liberally with no fear or trepidation. The result was that sharing allowed accountability with trust.
Challenge yourself today to stop for a moment and think about one area that you need to work on with other guys. Is there a retreat, a convention, or a camping session coming available near you that you know you should be part of? Is there a group of guys that you would like to go away with and challenge yourself? Can I encourage you? Take that time out to retreat or regroup with like-minded people.
Our LA Men’s Group is having its 3rd annual retreat this November 4-6. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.