Don't Mistake Fruit for the Root

Keep Your Heart

When it comes to men and women, their struggles are often the same. While they may express themselves differently on the surface, they stem from the same source: the heart. Male struggles are human struggles, and their only hope is the gospel of Jesus Christ. In this post created in cooperation with the Association of Biblical Counselors, Tim Watson, shares how to help men see beyond the surface of their struggles and begin to consider the root causes behind them.

Tim Watson is a Licensed Professional Counselor at Metroplex Counseling in Fort Worth and Bedford, Texas. He is a member of the Association of Biblical Counselors and the American Association of Christian Counselors. His counseling focus includes men's issues, marriage and family, adolescents, addictions, anxiety, stress, grief and trauma.

While there is no single "male struggle," there is a single source—the heart. At the end of the day, male issues are simply human issues. They all stem from a heart infected by sin and in need of a Savior.

Proverbs 4:23 (ESV)

23Keep your heart with all vigilance,

for from it flow the springs of life.

Scripture quotations marked (ESV) are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

What do you think it means when the author of Proverbs describes the heart as the source of "the springs of life"? What does this tell you about the importance of the heart? How does it influence the lives of those who follow Christ?
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Out of the heart, struggles, thoughts, and behaviors surface in life. How does this truth influence the way you attempt to counsel men in their struggles? In what ways does it help you to dig below the surface?
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Pornography, emotions, intimate relationships, work balance, and personal identity are all important topics to discuss with men. But we cannot ignore the heart in our counseling. Doing so would be the same as a physician tending to the symptoms while failing to treat the disease behind them. 

What do you do to dig below the surface when addressing struggles with men? How do you strive to counsel them in ways that reach beyond the symptoms alone?
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As you consider your experience, in what ways have you overemphasized a man's behavior and neglected the heart? How could you mature in your ability to counsel as a result? What changes will you make going forward?
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When you seek to minister to men, it's important that you do not miss addressing their hearts by focusing solely on their external behaviors. Surface issues (pornography, emotions, relationships, work, identity, etc.) are helpful matters to consider, but they must lead back to the heart or else we have missed the point. Ask God to give you a deeper sense of wisdom when interacting with men and their struggles. Help Him to guide you so that your counsel helps them navigate from the brokenness of their hearts to the mending power of Christ.

For more insights and teaching from Tim Watson, check out the full course, A Vigilant Heart

To find out more about the Association of Biblical Counselors, click here.