Encouraging men to have conversations
By Bishop James E. Swanson Sr.
I ran across an online resource called “The Good Men Project.” I’m assuming (as usual) that I’m way behind on accessing this resource.
Please do not read this as an endorsement of this project, but, I do endorse the strong belief that men need to engage in conversations about a variety of issues that influence how they live and interact with this world directly and indirectly.
There is no place where that is more needed than in the church.
Men should be involved in a wide range of topics that have the church’s attention today.
When I say “men,” I’m including a wide audience of men who have been left out of these conversations.
The Good Men Project claims to have begun by simply asking men to tell their stories without prejudging the merits of their lives or their stories.
That’s where we should begin.
We should listen to a person’s stories without attaching our biases and without adding our personal stances or opinions.
Before we attempt to engage in conversations with others, we need to listen to the wise counsel of Dr. Anthony Fauci, the lead doctor in our struggle with the COVID-19 coronavirus. He said, “You don’t make the timeline, the virus makes the timeline.”
We can help set the climate for meaningful and informative conversations with men by following some principles:
- Don’t prejudge their statements, comments or even their body language.
- Ask open-ended questions.
- Invite men from outside normal circles to be a part of these conversations.
- Find ways to share what you heard even if you didn’t agree or you downright disliked what they said.
- Ask yourself this question, “Do I really want to listen and learn?”
This pandemic has reinforced for me the fact that we’re inextricably tied together and we can’t escape the commonality of our faith.
Men need to be encouraged to talk about that.
If not now, when?
Bishop James E. Swanson Sr., president
General Commission on UM Men