Do Men Have Emotional Needs?

First off, let’s check out what King David wrote in Psalm 22:14 that his heart melted like wax in the most inner places of his body / soul.

Have you ever asked yourself, “What’s the harm in keeping my fears and my emotional needs to myself?” Well, it’s because that which you use to hide your fears and emotional needs from others will eventually become your prison. It will lock you up, freeze you up, bottle you up… the bottom line is that it will keep you from moving toward possessing all that God has for you in your life.

  • Some men turn to alcohol or drugs—in an effort to hide themselves from their fears and emotional needs.
  • Some turn to porn or prostitutes—they won’t trust their wives with their emotions, but they’ll trust a total stranger with their bodies, their potential, and their reputations.
  • Some turn to overwork—putting all of their energy into the job and “burning the midnight oil”—in an effort to avoid the need to relate to people.

Eventually, each of these “escapes” becomes a prison. It traps you even further into a cycle of secrecy, because once men are trapped by their particular escape mechanism, they won’t tell anybody about that trap either. Your fear only grows greater as your silence grows deeper.

The fact is, God created men with emotions. He created men with a need to feel, to touch, to express, to have an emotional outlet and release. Look at most any little boy… he is free to express himself, to vent his feelings, to hug and kiss and be hugged and kissed in return. He hasn’t yet learned to hide. Adam was hiding when God called to him; which turned out to be a learned response (Genesis 3:10).

  • What happened to you on your way to becoming a man?
  • Where are you?
  • What caused you to feel that you need to run and hide?

There’s another man behind the mask we put up.

  • He needs to be touched just as much as the next guy.
  • He needs to be held.
  • He needs to hear loving words, spoken in a gentle way.

Don’t deny your emotional needs. David wasn’t afraid to admit to himself and to God that he was weak, afraid, sorrowful, angry, or in need of love. He even said that his heart melted like wax (see Psalm 22:14). In fact, the entire twenty-second psalm is filled with emotion. It is a psalm of David, but it mirrors the experience of Christ’s crucifixion.

The Bible says Jesus was a man “who in the days of his flesh … offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears” (Hebrews 5:7.) Jesus was a man who knew how to express His emotions.

  • Tell God you need Him.
  • Tell Him you love Him.
  • Tell Him you are in trouble in your life.
  • Tell Him where you ARE.

Answering God's First Question

God called to Adam and asked him, “Where are you?” (Genesis 3:9) and here’s how the first man answered the first question that God had asked him: “I heard… I was afraid… I was naked… I hid.” (Genesis 3:10).

Most men don’t like open confrontation. I have known some physically big and powerful men who were afraid to go home to their five-foot-two-inch wife because they knew they would be facing a confrontation with her the minute they walked in the door.

Many men come across to their wives and children as being fearless, but the fact is, men are very afraid of themselves and of being confronted with who they really are. We know what is deep down inside. Men rarely face themselves because they really don’t know who they are or where they are—and I think they are afraid that somebody might discover the darkness that they secretly know is inside them.

Men tend to talk very easily about things that don’t really matter; seems most of us clam up when the talk turns to the things that matter the most. So we hide.

Here is the nature of relationships: you can’t have a relationship with someone if you are hiding from them.

  • Not a relationship with God.
  • Not a relationship with your wife.
  • Not a relationship with your child.
  • Not a relationship with the guy who stands next to you in the church service.

Relationships are built when we stop hiding and honestly face ourselves, and then allow ourselves to become vulnerable and open with other men. It doesn’t happen in a large group like a church service, but in small groups. That is why our small group ministry is so important.

A man sometimes acts as if he can’t hear, or as if he hasn’t heard, but the fact is, he heard—he what was said but just didn’t like what he heard.

  • He heard his wife when she said she needed more time, attention, or consideration.
  • He heard his kids when they complained that Dad wasn’t around very much.
  • He heard his daughter when she said, “I love you, Daddy,” and he heard her sigh when Daddy didn’t say anything back.

He ran and hid emotionally because he didn’t know how to give to other people what they needed. It is a cruel fact of life that we cannot pass on that which we do not possess: not leadership, compassion, integrity, confidence, love or peace.

A man who is afraid and doesn’t know what to do is a man who feels exposed, naked if you will. He will go to great lengths to hide himself…

  • To bury himself in his work
  • To get involved in an affair that doesn’t require any vulnerability on his part
  • To put up a brick-wall facade around his heart to hide his true emotions.

So men end up afraid, frustrated, whimpering inside, locked up, and impotent. And all the while, they are doing everything they can to cover up their inner feelings and emotional inadequacies.

Truth requires that you open up and share who your really are and where you really are. It requires an honest answer to God’s question, “Where are you?” rather than an excuse rooted in our own fear.

Where Are You, Really?

After hearing the Game Plan for Life conference on September 12, I could not help but think about the overall underlying issue that permeated the event… do men of today really know who they are? So let’s get personal. Are you in touch with where you are? How you feel? Have you faced your faults? Do you know your great assets?

In Genesis 3:9, we find God asking an interesting question. When God called to Adam in the Garden of Eden, He wasn’t trying to find Adam. God knew where Adam was because no one can hide from God. I think that God wanted Adam to admit where he was. He wanted Adam to recognize fully who he was and what he had done.

One of the most important questions you can ever ask yourself is, “Where am I in my life?” Men get into trouble when they don’t know where they are.

When we hide, we turn phony. We act out a charade and put on a mask and participate in our own masquerade. Only two things are worse than being phony with other people; it’s being phony with yourself and being phony with God.

If you haven’t faced up to who you are and what you have done, you will find it very difficult to enter into genuine praise and worship. I suspect that you’ll also find it very difficult to relate to other men, or to your wife and children.

Until you face up to your flaws and failures (openly admitting them to yourself and to God, accepting the fact that you aren’t perfect) you’ll never be able to allow other people to know, much less accept, your imperfections. If you aren’t open to that kind of accountability, you will always feel cut off, estranged, isolated, lonely, deprived, and alienated from other people.

Many men spend a lot of time and energy asking about the other men around them, “Where are they?”

  • What does that man have that I don’t have to get that kind of woman?
  • What does that man do to be able to afford that kind of car and live in that kind of house?
  • How is it that HE has that kind of job and authority and power?
  • Why does God bless HIS ministry since he is really not that impressive?

These are all variations of asking, “Where are they?” The answer to that question leads to a dead end. It results in jealousy, competition, hatred, distrust and suspicion, all of which result in a murderous attitude (remember what happened in the story of Cain and Able – Genesis 4:3, 4, 5, 8). Peter had a similar jealousy with John. After hearing about a difficult destiny for himself, Peter asks Jesus, “Lord, and what about this man?” (John 21:21-22).

Instead, ask yourself, “Where am I?” That’s the question that can lead to life. That’s the question that will lead us all to repentance before God, to an ability to get close to other people, and to fulfillment and true satisfaction in life.

Joe Gibbs challenged us to be in touch with the Head Coach, to interact with other players, and to get to know the Playbook. You might be in the first half, or at halftime, or maybe late in the fourth quarter, but it’s time to know who you are and where you stand in the game of life.