Main Image: The 4M Extreme Character Challenge
If there’s one thing a crisis highlights in a man’s world, it’s the likelihood that he will focus inwards and not ask for help when he needs it.
The last few months have been tough for everyone as the world comes to grips with the coronavirus pandemic. While Australia has for the most part escaped the tragic situations that have faced Italy, Spain and New York, the economic downturn has seen many stretched to breaking point.
With Australia’s unemployment rate set to double this quarter to 10%, a recession looming and an economic meltdown that will eclipse the Global Financial Crisis, the road to recovery will be long and bumpy.
Men have often struggled with the brush that society paints them with – that they need to be strong; that they need to have it all together and not show weakness.
Dale MacArthur of the men’s ministry Shed Nights told 96five that many blokes will be hurting deeply through the pandemic season.
“Life is amazing, brilliant and beautiful but it’s also very hard. Those hard bits can take blokes out and they can get lost if they have a failure. Right now, men will have lost jobs, temporarily or permanently, and suddenly there’s a new pressure on them financially.”
Shed Nights founder Ian ‘Watto’ Watson’s famous catch cry was “I’ve never seen a bloke go backwards with encouragement.”
It’s a legacy that Dale is passionate to carry on, and promoting the role men play in encouraging each other.
“We have to create families and places where men can come home and bring strength, but also to be strengthened by home. That’s why we want men to be with men, so they can get a good model of what that can look like, and start to grow into that.”
Michael Oon of the men’s support organisation The 4th Musketeer (4M) told 96five that it was important for men to work together to overcome their personal battles.
“We’re about challenging men to look at themselves and where they are, and also the struggles that they are going through. Through the programs we run we encourage men to find ways of co-operating in challenging circumstances.”
With men having been conditioned by the world that they must be in control, 4M takes men out of their comfort zones with activities like the Extreme Character Challenge. And when men really start opening up there are plenty of issues that blokes can be struggling with beneath the surface.
“We don’t want to be seen in that vulnerable state, but we could be having a hard time in our marriages, with work, or with our own addictions whatever they are. So we put up a front, that becomes a vault when we keep everything locked up inside us. When things get hard we try to fix it ourselves and we can’t; we then suffer from anxiety attacks and depression.”
At the end of the day both organisation’s are about inspiring blokes to become better men and living out life as we were intended – to be in community with others.
If you want to get started connecting with other blokes, 96five is proud to be associated with Ignite Australia. This is an online event for men featuring Angus Buchan – Angus is an author, evangelist and was the subject of the award winning feature film ‘Faith Like Potatoes’. You can register for the event here.
Shed Nights run regular meetings all across the country where men can open up, be authentic. It’s all about getting real with God and each other.
4M run a range of rites of passage style adventures for men that will get them out of their comfort zones, and working together to overcome challenges. The program is designed to inspire men to step up into leadership roles both in the home and their communities.
If you are struggling with any issues the following organisations can also help:
Lifeline: 13 11 14
MensLine Australia: 1300 78 99 78
Beyond Blue: 1300 22 4636