“All in all it's just another brick in the wall.
All in all you're just another brick in the wall.”
- Pink Floyd
Hang with me here. This is going to get pretty spiritual…
Before the men’s events I co-lead as part of the Alamo Band of Brothers, we gather to pray for “advance words”. That is, we ask God to help reveal some understanding of the men that will be attending.
What is going on in their lives?
What challenges are they facing?
What is set against them?
What is their collective burden?
What would be helpful for us to know about them?
Sometimes we get very specific words, but often there are concepts or even images. (Interestingly enough, the “advance words” we receive are always powerfully borne out to be true once we begin to encounter the men and their stories over the weekend.)
One of the more specific and powerful images we received before this last event was of a man with bloodied hands and head from endlessly pounding his fists and melon against a brick wall. Ironically, once he stopped all that ineffective beating, the wall magically fell down by itself.
The interpretation was clear. A lot of these men have been working their tails off and making very little progress (in their career, marriages, parenting, and every arena of their lives). The temptation and the implicit guidance of the culture (and even Christendom) is to just work harder.
More trying, more effort, more discipline. (That was exhausting to even write that!)
One of my all time favorite movies is “Warrior”. Pretty rough, but it gets me every time and I have seen it quite a few times. Brandon finds himself in the cage against a bigger and seemingly better opponent. He gets brief reprieves between rounds. He is moments from either blacking out or needing to tap out. His manager repeatedly says something that completely takes me by surprise:
“Relax Brandon. Breathe.”
As in, stop trying to break free.
Relax, gain your composure.
Assess the situation.
Quit trying so hard.
It is going to be okay.
So counterintuitive and such spot-on advice. Have you ever found yourself working harder and harder to accomplish something that just doesn’t appear to allow any progress? You know that feeling, right? I know I do.
Sometimes, working harder or longer is not the answer. Sometimes stepping back from the wall and assessing the situation is the way to go. Sometimes, drawing upon wise counsel or all the wisdom and power of heaven is the answer.
You might find it interesting to know that I have been in coaching situations with leaders where the very clear words that came to me in a crucial situation were…
“Take a deep breath. Breathe. Relax. We will find a way through this.”
They need to hear that like I need to hear it. Like we all need to hear it sometimes. Maybe you need to hear it right now. As it turns out there were about 70 men that largely needed to hear it a few weekends ago.
Is there anything in your life you aren’t making any progress on?
Have you tried working harder and longer to fix the problem?
When is the last time you took a step back and just took a breath? Allowed yourself some room to assess and think it through? Prayed about the issue or honestly invited some wise counsel into the situation?