Male loneliness is an epidemic. “Squad Goals” is a bit outdated (2015), but it shouldn’t be. People continue discussing Taylor Swift’s squad. Computer savvy peeps join the Geek Squad. Villains in the DC Comic universe formed the Suicide Squad. But what about the good guys? The average Lonely Man? Not to be confused with the 1957 Western film nor the pick up artist strategy, but the many lonely men in the world today? Something needs to change.
Male friendships were celebrated in ancient society (think Jonathan and David in the Bible). But great male friendships (even fictional ones in movies) are questioned today. Marvel Comic’s Steve Rogers and Bucky Barnes’s genuine friendship is interpreted as chemistry (some people even call it “queer baiting”). SNL poked fun at superhero friendships with “The Ambiguously Gay Duo” sketches. While “bromance” was a thing for a bit, all of this societal speculation hurts the average man who simply needs a friend or a group of men to sharpen him.
The good guys need a squad to combat male loneliness; to heal, to find potential dangers, and to become better men. Don’t be fooled. There is a war raging against you as a man. You need a squad. The term “squad” has military origins: “Before the widespread use of of automatic weapons, infantry troops tended to fight in a square formation to repel cavalry or superior forces.” And this is where we get the word “squad” from, “Vulgar Latin exquadra ‘to square’…” Let’s talk about our first square:
A Mat Squad to Heal
In the middle of a square slab of cloth lay a paralyzed man. His friends carry the square mat to a home where Jesus was speaking, hoping he would heal their friend. But when they arrive, the home is too packed to take him inside. This squad of men are not the kind to get easily dissuaded, however. They hoist their friend to the roof, dig a hole, and lower him in front of Jesus while he’s preaching. But Jesus isn’t irritated by this distraction, He was impressed:
“When Jesus saw their faith…” Luke 5:20. The paralyzed man may have had a good amount of faith, but Jesus took note of this group of men’s faith…and the man was healed. Those men at the four corners of the mat healed their friend’s life.
Was male loneliness an issue for a paralyzed man who had nothing to offer? No. What kind of a man was he to have had such an amazing group of men as friends? Risking reputation and rejection, they brought their friend face to face with his savior. If you need healing, here are some questions to add to your squad goals: Who do you have in your square formation? What friends would risk their reputation for you? As Pastor Anthony Powell says, “Who are your mat men?” Scrap the social media “friends,” and build a deep lasting friendship with a squad around you.
A FOD Squad to Find Potential Dangers
On the most recent podcast with Men of Growth, I detail how I discovered the power of a band of brothers. After an intense game of Ultimate Frisbee my freshman year of college, I discovered I’d lost my keys on the field during the game. Listen to it here:
“Go on, guys. I’ll catch up with you later. I need to find my keys.”
But Tim called everyone back together. “Kris lost his keys,” he said. “We’re not leaving here until we find them.”
Side by side, this group of college men walked the field and found my keys. What could’ve taken me hours was accomplished in minutes. Before this, I’d walked the path of male loneliness. I was suddenly overwhelmed, but that’s what a group of men can be to your adversaries…overwhelming.
You need other eyes to catch the things you don’t see. You need men who have your back. On an aircraft carrier, service members do a Foreign Object Debris (FOD) walk shoulder to shoulder, step by step, to prevent anything from getting sucked up into an airplane engine.
Here are a couple more questions to add to your squad goals: Who’s walking shoulder to shoulder with you? Who’s on the lookout to make sure nothing bad gets sucked into your life?
A Sharpening Squad to Become a Better Man
Have you heard the phrase, “Iron sharpens irons just as man sharpens man”? It ain’t what you think. Two iron knives do not sharpen one another. A knife is sharpened by scraping it against a rough surface. Sharpening happens through resistance, not through similarity. If you want to grow as a man, surround yourself with men who have different views and experiences from your own.
Part of your squad goals should be finding men who you want to be like, men who will be good mentors, men who have been refined and shaped through resistance. You need truth tellers with insights you don’t have.
If you were going to leave a monument like Mount Rushmore, who would you have up there with you? Who’s gonna be in your Rat Pack? Who’s gonna fight this fight with you like the Avengers or the Power Rangers? Male loneliness isn’t an option. The Lone Ranger was lone because he lost his squad in an ambush, but even the Lone Ranger understood this truth: “I believe that to have a friend, a man must be one.” It takes attention, effort, and time. He found a new squad and companion in Tonto.