“My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you.”

John 17: 10

The past few months I have had the marvelous experience of living in manhole. Yes, a manhole. For those of you that may not be aware of the significance of the term, a manhole is a place where the full extent of “maleness” is able to be expressed. This doesn’t mean that it is actually being expressed, but that the ability and availability of it being expressed is present. That was a mouthful.

Of course, I am not referring to the incredible Biblical aspects of being a man or being a male (even though I will admit that at sometimes they do show up here and there) but more to the negative-leaning aspects of manhood–or maybe lack of it? (Only God knows).

Nevertheless, from living together with 6 other men in a two-story house, the past three and a half months, I believe that God has been faithful to teach me essential lessons that I will take with me, and never take for granted, for the rest of my life in this grace-needy world. So we begin…

Don’t take for granted what your parents taught you.

One would assume, from hindsight, that no one is raised the same way and under the same circumstances. Duh. However, it doesn’t really hit you until it is a reality that you simply have to live with. Even though I wasn’t ever a “chore-doing” kid, my parents always taught me about how essential it is to “be clean” and “be presentable.” By this I am not referring to taking showers or wearing clean clothes, but of the fact that the place where you live, and the status of the place where you live is like a picture–to those who visit you–of the kind of person that you are.

From young my parents taught me that having a clean room, wearing appropriate clothes, being neat, and being responsible where the marks of a mature and “above the standard” individual and that if these qualities were not developed early in life, one would never be able to catch up.

How does this relate to my status quo? Well, let’s just say that the “tragedy of the commons” is a very present tragedy. There is nothing more upsetting than living together, trying to be successful students, young professionals, Christian men, Kingdom-servants, and yet not being able to successfully get people to wash their dishes…or pick up their stuff from the living room…do their chores…or PICK UP THEIR DIRTY PLATES OFF THE GROUND. Yes. I know. It is sad. But if people weren’t taught early in life these critical responsibility issues, then it is truly a doctoral thesis to get them to learn now.

Being a full-time student, Army cadet, family member, boyfriend, worker, and youth leader, life and time management are of the essence. However, living “together” has proven to be one of my greatest challenges yet.

One example of this would be arriving home, after a long day in the field training with ROTC, and finding the living room packed with people–it’s all good, it’s a campus ministry house after all. However, the sad thing was seeing how the “guests” were getting up ready to leave the house and not picking up their dirty plates they had use to eat their dinner…from the ground. Being appalled by the scene, I walked to the plates, picked them up, and washed them in the kitchen sink. Point made. Even though this goes beyond the values of the individuals I live with, things like these wouldn’t happen if we, as a house, had made a policy on the responsibilities of guests, whether they are personal friends or people from the campus ministry dropping by to hang out.

In conclusion, I am grateful of the values I have been taught and developed throughout my life–I just pray God grants me the grace and mercy to lovingly pass them on to my fellow men.

You see, is the issue really the dirty dishes? No, someone will end up cleaning them. Is the issue here a messy living quarters? Sort of, but in the end someone will pick stuff up. The issue at the heart of it all is that how we live, how we conduct ourselves, and how we treat others (especially when we live with them) shows the state of our heart and our soul. That is the issue at hand.

A State of Conviction

There is something obviously wrong when you are ok with leaving the sink piled up with dirty dishes, simply because someone else will do the chore in the end. There is something wrong about leaving a messy living room behind because it will get messy again tomorrow. There is something wrong about going to sleep at 2am and complain the next day that people are being loud at 8am–what were you doing up at 2am? There is something wrong going on when brothers in Christ are failing are living biblically because no one has the balls to smack them in the face and calling them out how we are told to in Scripture. There is something wrong going on when a brother decides to lie when confronted by another brother about life issues. There is something wrong when we are unwilling to take criticism well from our fellow brothers in Christ simply because we are too stubborn to grow up and be a man. Yes, be a man: a responsible, potential-filled, servant and leader in the Kingdom of God.

Living Together

In the end, these things depict what prioritizes our lives and reveals that our stubbornness to keep living the way we are, screwing other people over, and being comfortable and being “right” are more important than humbling ourselves and learning how to live together–because that is what fellowship is: living together.

This is a very tough post to write because in this I recognize my own failures. Above all, my greatest failure and sin has been to see all these things and, knowing the possible solutions, deciding that I was unable to change or help the situation. I’ve tried in some ways, but if I truly look at myself and humble myself, I will be the first to admit that I didn’t try hard enough. I gave up on my brothers in Christ.

Why is this important? Why are these small things so crucial, especially to Christian men? As Christian men and as Christians in general, we are called to live a life as a living sacrifice for the glory of God. We will hopefully one day be leaders, if we aren’t already, in the church, in our family, in our groups of friends, and parents to our children. If we don’t learn how to live together in harmony with fellow men–which are Christian–how will we live the rest of our lives, one day, with our wives? Our children? The state of where we live, and our relationship with those we live with, is a picture of 100,000 words. The state of how we live is a doctoral thesis on who we are and the kind of people we are. If we weren’t taught how to live responsibly when we were young, how to live together, then we should make it a goal, an objective, to persevere in that aspect of our life.

And if you were raised with those responsible, truly manly, and honest values, then it is your (our) responsibility to hold our fellow brothers in Christ accountable and to pull them up with us–in a loving, yet truthful, manner that the Bible teaches us.

That’s all.