Strength to be weak

Many men struggle with fears of appearing weak or incompetent, which can inhibit personal growth, transparency in relationships, and willingness to ask for help. In this episode, Wes McAdams interviews Jim Martin to discuss cultural pressures and misconceptions around masculinity that feed these fears. They explore how scripture and the example of Jesus provide a different model of true strength through humility and vulnerability.

Wes and Jim dive into passages like 2 Corinthians 12 and discuss biblical concepts including power being made perfect in weakness, boasting in weaknesses, and finding joy in transparency. They talk about rethinking prevailing notions that real men must project unwavering grit and self-reliance. The conversation covers how admitting struggles openly can build deeper connections.

Jim Martin has served for 10 years as the VP of Harding School of Theology and brings a wealth of experience from 36 years in preaching ministry. He speaks candidly in this interview about some of his own journey with shame and fear of embarrassment earlier in his career. His desire is to pass on encouragement and positivity to church leaders today facing similar struggles.

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Transcript (Credit: Beth Tabor)

WES: Welcome to the Radically Christian Bible Study podcast. I’m your host, Wes McAdams. Here, we have one goal: Learn to love like Jesus. Today we’re going to talk about why we should admit when we’re weak. I want to start by reading from 2 Corinthians 12:7‑10, where Paul talks about his thorn in the flesh. He says, “So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

Today’s guest is my friend, Jim Martin. Jim Martin has served for 10 years as the VP of the Harding School of Theology. Prior to that, he preached for 36 years, 20 of those years in Waco, Texas. He and his wife, Charlotte, have two daughters, one son‑in‑law, and four grandchildren. I know you will enjoy this conversation, and I hope that it will help all of us learn to love like Jesus. 

Jim Martin, welcome to the podcast, Brother.

JIM: Well, thank you, Wes. I’m glad to be here.

WES: Well, thanks so much for being here. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate you, and I can’t tell you how much I appreciate you spending some time with us. I was trying to think, just a minute ago, where the first time I saw your name might have been, and it might have been Twitter, which is a weird place to first meet someone. But as you know, Twitter can kind of be a dark place, but when someone is shining the light of the gospel in such a dark place, they really stand out, so your encouragement and positivity just has always stood out as long as I’ve known who you are. And now that I’ve gotten to know you a little bit, I just can’t tell you how much I appreciate your encouragement and your positivity and what you bring to the kingdom everywhere you go, Brother.

JIM: Well, thank you. I appreciate that very much, Wes.

WES: Well, one of the things that you do so well is you encourage leaders, so I would love to just ‑‑ before we even jump into our topic, for you to just tell us about that. How did that become something that you do so well, and why is that something you’re so passionate about, encouraging leaders?

JIM: Well, so I’ve been at Harding School of Theology 10 years. I preached for 36, 37 years before that in three different churches, last 20 in Waco, Texas, and I still preach, but of course it’s not the same, but it’s just hard. I mean, you can be in the best church and it’s just hard at times. And I just look back at some of the people who spoke a kind word to me or a very timely word to me, and there are times when I can almost hear their voice again because it’s just lodged in my heart, meant so much to me for them to say what they did, and so I just feel this opportunity to pass that on. So I’m just looking for the good that I can find in ministers in particular, in church leaders in general. So that’s ‑‑ that’s kind of that.

WES: Wow, you are quite the Barnabas, Brother. I think that the first time I read one of your ‑‑ anything that you wrote was in 2020, probably, right in the middle of the pandemic, and there was so much going on, and so much going on in my own heart. And we’ll get into some of this later, but I felt such a burden to be strong as a preacher who hadn’t been at the congregation where I am very long ‑‑ a big congregation, and a worldwide event going on that no one had been through. And I felt this incredible burden to ‑‑ you know, to be a rock, to help people, to serve people, to teach people through all of this, and it was really more than I could bear, and I didn’t want to let any of the cracks show. I didn’t want to let any of the weakness show. And the way that ‑‑ without even knowing me and me not even knowing you, the way you ministered to me ‑‑ I can’t tell you how much I appreciate it, Brother.

JIM: Well, thank you. That encourages me to just hear that. I just think there’s a whole lot of us, Wes, that ‑‑ most ministers I know are doing the best they can. I mean, the majority of the ministers I know, they’re working hard just trying to do what they know to do, and sometimes a word of encouragement can just offer a little bit of hope. I understand that our hope is in God, and in the gospel, in particular, but sometimes when someone with skin on comes along ‑‑ and that person ‑‑ you know, Christ lives in me like he lives in you, and that can just be particularly meaningful, so I think God uses these moments.

WES: Yeah, amen. Well, I want to get to this subject, and to be quite frank, I read through your newsletter just looking for anything that I could talk to Jim Martin about and have an excuse to invite you on the podcast. But one of the things that you wrote really stuck out to me. And you talked about ‑‑ in the newsletter, about going to see a marriage therapist and the first time you ever did that and some of the feelings that you experienced when you went and saw a therapist and how that got you unstuck in your marriage. And so I’d love for you to talk through what you were feeling, what you were afraid of, and how that helped you.

JIM: Yeah. So, Wes, I preached in Florence, Alabama almost eight years, and those were sweet years and our children were born there. Our two girls, Jamie and Christine, they were born there, and those were the early years of our marriage, my marriage to Charlotte. And then after those ‑‑ I don’t know, it was almost eight years, we moved to Kansas City, Missouri to work with a church there, and they were good people in that church, but it was hard. It was a hard situation. We were in a place where we had left all of our friends and we were getting acquainted with these people, and I could feel myself kind of go down into a dark hole. I really think that was some kind of depression. In fact, I got some help for that while we were there. 

But we just got stuck in our marriage. We weren’t in crisis. There wasn’t some big blowup or some big scandal. We were just stuck, and it was like we didn’t know what to do with one another. And here I am ‑‑ as you said so well, I’m trying to be strong and I’m trying to model and I’m trying to do this and that. And I’d like to tell you I told my wife, you know, “We ought to talk to somebody about this,” but I didn’t do that. She did that to me several times, and I kept ‑‑ my response to her was “I’ll try harder.” And that’s all I knew to do about my entire life. Trying harder to be a good minister, trying harder to be a good man, trying harder to be a good husband or daddy. That’s what you do ‑‑ at that point in my life ‑‑ you just try harder. You dig your heels in and you just ‑‑ you get grit and you go at it. But sometimes doing the same thing over and over and trying harder doesn’t necessarily mean it’s going to get better. 

So I knew a person, a therapist there in town, and we went to see him. And we pull up to this church building where his office was, and I’d like to tell you, Wes, that I was really concerned that day about, you know, “I just hope that God blesses this hour together with this man and I just hope my wife is encouraged.” I wasn’t thinking any of that. I was thinking, “Who is seeing me and how will I look?” That’s embarrassing to say that, even decades later. And what I’m telling you ‑‑ goodness, Wes, this is 32 years ago and I still feel embarrassed just saying those words. But we went in and it was so good. And it was ‑‑ I mean, it was hard talking to someone like that and realizing, you know, that I was ‑‑ I just realized how ‑‑ that I needed to do some things in our marriage that I wasn’t doing. And my wife, if she were here, she’d say, “Wait, wait, wait, there’s another side of that; I needed to grow up.” I got that, but I’m talking about me. And so we saw this person. I don’t know how many weeks or months it was, but it was very, very helpful, but I began to realize how much pride I actually have.

WES: Yeah. Well, and that’s an interesting word there, “pride.” And, you know, I don’t want to assume that women don’t have this struggle, as well, because I’m sure that many women do, but all I know is the male experience because that’s what I am. But there’s been a lot of talk recently about masculinity in our culture, and I think some of that conversation has been a good conversation. What is it that we expect out of young men? What is it that young men expect out of themselves? And I know that, for many of us, sort of this fear or this desire to prove to other people that we are strong, that we can do it, that we don’t need anybody else’s help ‑‑ you used the word “grit,” you know, and that’s what we think we’re supposed to do, that when something isn’t working, we just need to find some strength in ourselves and get stronger, do more, be more, and prove that we’re strong enough to do whatever needs to be done and we don’t need anybody else’s help and we can be the rock for everyone else. Do you think that some of our ideas about masculinity ‑‑ I mean, I know that you’re probably around a lot of young men in your role and have been in your work throughout the years, and your own life.

JIM: Yeah.

WES: Do you think that some of our ideas about masculinity contribute to this idea that we have to prove ourselves, that we constantly have to prove ourselves and can never show ourselves to be weak?

JIM: Yeah, I think you’re exactly right. You know, if you grow up in the US, you’re a young man, and you go from high school, maybe you go to college for a lot of us, or you go to a trade school, or, for some, you enter the service, the military ‑‑ there’s not really a rite of passage, you know? I’m a father of two girls, but I think a lot of us, as dads, don’t know how to help our children, and maybe our sons in particular. I think, for instance, that sometimes a boy needs to hear from a father, “You’re just right. You can do this.” I tell my grandsons this. I have three grandsons. “You’re just right. You can do this.”  Because a lot of young guys grow up and they close in. “Nope, I can’t let anybody know that I’m breakable.” And a lot of them become angry, and then others just try to prove something. “Maybe if I can be successful or if I can have an important job or if I can have enough money, people will see that I measure up.” And that can be pretty difficult to penetrate for a young woman who’s just married this young man. How in the world do you get into this young man’s heart?

And so, yeah, I think there’s a lot of that, and a lot of opportunity, by the way, for dads and grandfathers like me, to step in and encourage younger men at church and step in and encourage young boys. Like you, I know these boys ‑‑ young men better than ‑‑ I’ve got two girls and I’m pretty familiar with that. Anyway, that’s just some thoughts.

WES: Yeah, absolutely. I think that there’s so much need for this, like you said, not just in the family, but at church, as well. And I just finished reading a book ‑‑ I think it was called “Man Enough,” and one of the things that he talks about in that book is the idea that when culture shifts, as it always does ‑‑ I mean, culture is always changing ‑‑ what society needs of their men changes. During war times, you know, that tends to be how men prove that they’re men. During times where things are agricultural, they tend to prove their manhood in a certain way. And as things are changing now, where we’re living in a very different type of economy, type of culture, our young men are trying to figure out how to prove themselves. 

But I think, in any culture, we have this self doubt. You know, we often talk about imposter syndrome, and I think that there’s lots of ways where we experience that imposter syndrome in our profession, but even just with masculinity, where we feel like, “My dad was a man, but I’m not really a man.” And I think, like some of the things you’re talking about, a rite of passage or those kinds of things, just a reassuring word from an older man that you are man enough, that you are enough, you are who you’re supposed to be, and encouraging young men that ‑‑ you know, sometimes I think that we get ‑‑ you know, there’s all of this cultural fighting over gender ideology and all of these things, and sometimes, in the church, I think that we can be just as guilty of perpetuating gender stereotypes, saying that real men do X, Y, and Z. They drive these trucks and they go hunting and they, you know, do all of these kinds of things. And those are worldly, masculine stereotypes that we’re trying to put on these young men. And if these young men, like King David, are artists and poets, and if they’re like Jacob rather than Esau, they don’t fit those stereotypes, and they need men to step into their life to say, “You are a man. You are a man. Even if you don’t hunt, even if you don’t drive a truck, you are a man,” and reassuring them that, because I think that so many grow up with this fear and this need, desire to prove themselves. 

In your article in your newsletter, you mentioned how this could be detrimental, specifically how it can inhibit our growth when we’re afraid of being seen as weak or foolish or ignorant or incompetent. So why is this fear ‑‑ why is that inhibiting our growth so often?

JIM: Well, that’s a good question. You know, deep down, everybody wants to be loved. I want you to think I have some value. And I just think deep down, Wes, there is a fear that if I tell you very much about me or you see very much, you won’t want anything to do with me again, and so I want to try real hard to measure up in your eyes. And the truth is, I mean ‑‑ and there’s a lot of literature that discusses this, but a lot of men are very, very lonely. And we’ll talk about just the lack ‑‑ you know, “I’ve got a lot of acquaintances, very few real friends,” and I think what you’re talking about, that’s the end ‑‑ that’s the result. That’s the end result.

WES: Yeah. And I loved how, in your story and in your life, that when you were able to admit that you needed help and go see a therapist, how that was what it took to reach the next level, to grow past where you were, to get unstuck, and how so often we’re not going to achieve any more than we’ve achieved or go further than we’ve gone until we’re willing to show that we need help, that we’re stuck, that we’re weak, that there’s something going on in our life that we don’t know how to deal with. But so often, when we’re afraid to admit that, I think we end up staying exactly where we are because we’re not admitting to ourselves or to anyone else that we need help.

JIM: Yeah, that’s exactly right. And it can be something as simple as just looking at somebody else and realizing this person knows more than I do about, you know, fill in the blank. Could I possibly ask for help? I tell church leaders, one of the best things you can ever do with one another is just ask for help. “Is there anybody here who could give me some tips on ‑‑ on just daily prayer? I really wrestle with this one,” one church leader might say. One church leader told me, not long ago, “I really just wrestle with taking care of myself, my body, my ‑‑ could somebody help me figure out how to do that?” There are people that just want ‑‑ you know, I think when we can acknowledge that ‑‑ and, I mean, that’s huge.

WES: Yeah, yeah, absolutely. Let’s kind of segue a little bit into scripture here because I think, obviously, our desire in everything is to be like Jesus. And, you know, it’s amazing to me that when God came in the flesh, he didn’t show up to show how strong he was, but he showed up in weakness and he demonstrated his weakness. He died for us, which, for men, especially ‑‑ and, again, I know it’s true for women, as well, but at any time, in any culture, for God to demonstrate his power by dying is absolutely shocking. It’s paradoxical that this is the way that God would choose to defeat his enemies and rescue us from sin and death, is by coming in weakness, serving rather than being served, and dying. 

And then, you know, you think about people like the apostle Paul and his ministry. And so often ‑‑ I love 2 Corinthians because 2 Corinthians demonstrates ‑‑ even 1 Corinthians, as well ‑‑ the weakness of Paul and many of the things that he struggled with. And people were calling him out on those things, and he’s even, in 2 Corinthians, sort of boasting in his weaknesses, and he recounts this occasion where he has this thorn in the flesh and he’s asking Jesus to remove the thorn, and Jesus doesn’t remove it, but rather says, “My grace is sufficient for you and my power is made perfect in weakness.” And so Paul decides, “I’m going to boast in my weaknesses.” 

How do you think, Jim ‑‑ how do you think that it would change our lives, it would change the way we do ministry, the way we do family, the way we do life if we would embrace what we see in Paul in this willingness to boast in our weaknesses and realize that, when we’re weak, then he’s strong?  

JIM: I think it’s pretty huge. I was thinking the other day, Wes, if you read Genesis 3‑11, I mean, there is this picture of just the creation just so broken into such little pieces. It started off so good, then we sinned, and then, oh, my goodness ‑‑ and it has affected everything. And there is a sense in which, as a person who is on this planet and a part of creation, I’m very broken, too. Now, I was created in the image of God, and that’s there; that’s right. There’s the capacity to do good things because of that. But the brokenness ‑‑ I mean, it would be like if ‑‑ I was talking to a friend yesterday. It would be like if I had cancer ‑‑ I go to the doctor, I find out I have cancer, and then I spend the rest of my time with you trying to convince you it’s not all that bad. “It’s really not all that bad, you know?” And we do that. “You know, Wes, don’t get me wrong. I’m a great guy, and I’ve really got a good heart, and I want to do right. It’s not that bad. It’s all good.” What could ‑‑ I’m thinking about, though, what if I were to just acknowledge, without Christ, I’m a mess. I’m not just a little mess; I’m a mess. And when I experience the very life of God living in me through Jesus, I’m not asking you to be impressed with my mess. There’s nothing impressive about it. I’m just asking you to believe that right in the middle of my brokenness is the very life of God that enables me to be fully present with you and to love you and embrace you and to treat you as a person also created in the image of God.

And it’s like ‑‑ it just takes a lot of the pressure off. You know, I don’t have to pretend to you that the brokenness is not there. Yes, it is. But what there is to be impressed is not my skill, my education, my ability, my experience, my resume. Be impressed with the life of God in me and in you. And there’s something ‑‑ I think we call it fellowship. There’s something special we have in relationship when we acknowledge that in one another.

WES: Isn’t it interesting how when we recognize a strength in someone else, there might be an admiration of that person, but it almost keeps us distant from them because we think, “Well, I couldn’t hang out with that person. I couldn’t spend time with them. You know, they would see my flaws.” And so when there’s just admiration, it kind of keeps us at a distance from each other. 

JIM: That’s right.

WES: But when we’re willing to ‑‑ I love that you used the word “fellowship.” When you’re willing to be vulnerable with each other is the only time you really can be in fellowship because when you see that someone else is just as flawed, just as broken as you are, then the walls come down and then you can be together in fellowship. But I think so often we want to impress other people, and we think, “Well, if I show people the real me, then we can’t have a relationship because they won’t ‑‑ they’ll reject me, they won’t like me anymore.” But in reality, when we show people the real us, that’s when we really can get to know each other.

JIM: That’s so good. That’s very true. You know, I was thinking the other day just about the calendar, you know ‑‑ and I heard this from someone, Wes; this is not original. But I wonder how many Christmases I have left, you know? Just take my age. I mean, do I have 10 left or 12 or a whopping 20? And do I really want to spend the remainder of those years, all those Christmases, trying to make you think I’m okay? I mean, is that the point of life? Somehow ‑‑ if I can somehow cause Wes to be impressed, then wow, what a great life that’ll have been. Or is there something that could actually be more joyful than that? I think you’re onto something. I think we actually find more joy, not in having someone else see how impressive we are, but in having somebody love us for who we are, and sometimes in spite of what we are. I don’t know. That’s the kind of joy I want for the rest of my life.

WES: Yeah. You mentioned something in your newsletter ‑‑ I can’t remember exactly how you put it, but it was that this willingness to admit that we’re weak, admit that we need help is actually where there is real strength, that this is what real strength looks like. And, I mean, it’s the strength that we see modeled in the gospel, this honesty and vulnerability. When we can admit that to one another, that’s actually what masculinity, as modeled by Jesus, as taught to Paul ‑‑ that’s what that should look like. And so I think that we almost need a redefinition, especially in the church, especially amongst Christian men, where we say this is what Christian masculinity looks like. This is what Christian strength looks like. It looks like being honest and vulnerable and willing to ask for help, because those are the men who are really going to experience growth and friendship and relationship and, like you said, real joy.

JIM: Yeah, yeah. I think you’re exactly right. You know, yesterday I was running an errand and this friend of mine called me, and he is a minister. He’s a preacher for a large church. And he’s a smart guy; he really is. He asked me, on the phone, he said, “Can I ask you for ‑‑ how you would handle something?” And he kind of laid out this people situation. First of all, I just felt honored that he would even ask. But I wasn’t thinking, “Oh, my goodness, you ought to know that. Oh my goodness, I can’t believe” ‑‑ I was actually thinking, “That is pretty strong of you just to come out and say, ‘Could I get your take on how you would handle this?'” There’s something ‑‑ I don’t know, there’s something strong about just saying, in this friendship, this is what would help me. I don’t know. I’m not sure how to express that any better, Wes, but…

WES: Yeah. No, that’s so wonderful because I think that’s exactly right, and I think we’ve all experienced that. It’s so funny. We’ve experienced that on the one side where we have been endeared to someone because they were vulnerable with us, but yet we’re terrified that if we’re vulnerable with someone else, that they’ll reject us, and it’s like, well, why would that be any different than it was the other way around?

JIM: Yeah.

WES: I don’t know anyone who has ever rejected someone because they showed vulnerability. I don’t know anyone who says, “Well, listen, I liked that guy until he told me that he needed help and he told me he was weak and he didn’t know the answer to some question. Now I don’t have any use for him.” I don’t know anyone who’s ever done that, but yet we’re all terrified that’s exactly what’s going to happen if we’re vulnerable with each other.

JIM: That’s exactly right, yeah. No, I think you’re exactly right. You know, I was thinking some months ago, I have never been at an age where I felt like I had it all down. Now, when I was a teenager, I very much thought I had it all down ‑‑ or I tried to project that. But like right now, I have two daughters who have mortgages. I’ve got a son‑in‑law with a business. I’ve got four grandchildren. I’ve never done this before. I am going ‑‑ I’m 70 years old, Wes. I’ve never done this, and I’ve been asking some older guys, “How do you do this without becoming an old grouch?” Because I see some men I don’t want to be like, and I’m seeing some other men I really want to be like. “How do you do this?” And I honestly am trying to figure it out.

I don’t know that you come ‑‑ I think, if we’re honest, you don’t come to a place where you finally say, “Well, I got it down, and if anybody needs an answer, just make an appointment.” I think, ideally, we have learned some things ‑‑ that’s right.  But we ought to also be learning. I have learned and I am learning. And both of those, acknowledging the first ‑‑ it’s false humility to say you haven’t learned anything. Of course you have. But on the other hand, I am to continue learning, and it may take some humility, but it’s true.

WES: This is a little bit different subject, but I think that it applies in that ‑‑ I think back to so many leaders, especially those who had sort of international ministries, well‑known ministries, and who got involved in some scandal and were doing things for years that no one really knew about. And then either after their death or years later it all came out, and their reputation, their ministry were all ruined. And I can’t help but think ‑‑ every single time I see a story like that, I can’t help but think, how did that all start? You know, it didn’t start where it ended. It started with some small decision. They got in over their head. Maybe they got overwhelmed with something and they were medicating their depression, or they were ‑‑ whatever it was. And so they did something they regretted, but because they were afraid of losing their ministry or they were afraid of ruining their reputation, they didn’t tell anyone. They didn’t ask for help. They didn’t admit where they were. And instead of pulling themselves up by their bootstraps and getting out of the hole, they just kept digging deeper and deeper and deeper. 

And I just can’t help but think that if we could help people on the front end to say, “Hey, when you make a mistake, admit it, ask for help, confess your sins one to another, pray for one another,” that’s how we keep from getting into a 10‑foot‑deep hole is by admitting it and talking it through when we’re an inch deep rather than 10 feet deep.

JIM: Yeah. I think that’s just excellent. You know, the verse, “The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked,” it’s not like somebody wakes up in the morning and says, “You know, I think I’ll make a couple of decisions that will absolutely wreck my marriage and crush my children.” I’ve talked to a lot of people that have, you know, had train wrecks. I’ve not talked to people like that. It’s often a certain attitude or a certain ‑‑ what seems so small. A small decision or a sense of entitlement that, you know, “As hard as I work for this church or business or whatever, I’ve got a right to,” you know, whatever. There’s something very special, though, about a Christian friendship where you can say, “Here’s something I’m thinking about right now.” Or where I can say to you, “Wes, it’s 11 o’clock in the morning. I’ve spent the last hour and a half daydreaming about a certain person. Should that alarm me? Does that alarm you when you ‑‑ when I say that? Could we work on that together?”

WES: You know, it reminds me, when you were speaking a second ago about always needing advice from people that are one step ahead of you in the journey ‑‑ and I love that at 70 years old, you’re saying, “I’ve never been here before, and there are guys that not only are here, but are further down the road than I am,” and so asking their advice. I heard somebody say one time that we all need a Paul in our lives, we all need a Barnabas in our lives, and we all need a Timothy in our life. We need somebody who is our mentor, somebody that we can mentor, and somebody who’s just an encourager, somebody to lift our hands up, and we need those kinds of relationships in our life. And I think especially men ‑‑ and, again, I know that it’s also true sometimes of women, but I think men especially ‑‑ you said earlier that men tend to be so very lonely and we tend to not have those kinds of relationships in our lives, and I think a lot of it has to do with our lack of vulnerability with each other.

JIM: Yeah, I think that’s exactly right. And I think you’re right about the need for a Timothy and a Barnabas and a Paul. Sometimes it’s something that’s ‑‑ our kids were in high school, Wes. We had this former elder and his wife at the church in Waco, and Charlotte and I were just going nuts. I mean, we did not know what to do. Our girls ‑‑ they were just normal, but we had never experienced this before, and it was just ‑‑ and one day I went over to their house, drank iced tea, this couple, and I said ‑‑ both of them had two ‑‑ this couple had two girls, and I said, “I don’t understand how to do this. What are we supposed to be doing?” And they laughed, and we spent the next couple of hours just talking about some options. 

I think some of the great resources we have are in the churches we’re a part of, to see some guy who just seems to be a very attentive father and just to say, “Could we have coffee? I’d just love to ask you, how do you do this? I mean, like practically, how do you do this? What do you say?” I don’t know. It’s a whole lot better than trying to figure it out yourself.

WES: Yeah. Yeah, and I can’t help but think that you’ll gain two things. One, you’re bound to get some great advice, but two, you’re bound to get a better friend. And even if that person is already a good friend, it is only going to endear them to you more and endear you to them more, and it is going to strengthen the bond between you, and there’s no better way to build a relationship with somebody than admitting your own vulnerability and asking questions and say, “How could I do this better?” And we’re so hesitant to do that. And better relationships are right there in our grasp, but so often we’re afraid of admitting our weakness in order to gain a better friend.

JIM: Yeah, that’s exactly right. When we ask people questions like that, we do become endeared to one another. I want to make just a comment about what you said about Barnabas and then Timothy. One of the things we can do for one another is trying to catch people doing things that are right. And it may be a young couple that are trying to deal with a three‑year‑old, and you’re looking at this and they just handle it well. And for you to just say, “You know, I just saw kind of the interaction. Oh, that was good, the way you guys did that. Well done.” Because I’m telling you ‑‑ and you know this, Wes, so often they feel like failures because they ‑‑ and those people will be endeared to you. And we can look for people ‑‑ like Barnabas, the encourager, just looking for people who are doing things that are right and just to acknowledge it. 

And then the Timothy’s, you say, well, who could learn from me? Well, I would pray about that, but think about the people who keep showing up in your life, especially some person ‑‑ some younger person that always seems to want to talk to you. You just never, never know how you could be helpful to a person like that who is ‑‑ for whatever reason, is looking to you.  For whatever that’s worth, I think I’m just piggybacking on what you said about Paul and Barnabas and Timothy. I think that’s so right. We need those three people.

WES: I think that’s great. That’s beautiful advice, Brother. I appreciate that. Jim, thank you so much for this time we’ve been able to share, and thank you for your work in the kingdom. You are such an encouragement, Brother. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate you.

JIM: Well, Wes, thanks. I’ve enjoyed this so much, and I have such respect for you, and I love the spirit of your podcast. Thanks very much for inviting me, and I’m really honored to be here.

WES: Thanks, Brother.

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