Solicitation has a bad rap. Aside from meaning seeking the services of a prostitute or the signs that say “No Solicitors,” it means to ask for something. Sometimes the only way we can get what we need is if we can ask for it directly. The other day I needed encouragement. Things are tough at work, the budget is tight, and I was feeling stress.

Because of the skills I've learned at ManAlive, I was able to recognize some warning signs, the triggers that can lead to poor choices. Worry, fear, and foreboding thoughts started to dominate my words. I stopped, prayed, and asked Holy Spirit. You know what I heard? That’s right...Encouragement.

To get encouragement, my old passive self had a few options. I could choose to complain louder. Maybe the people around me just don’t know I’m in a tight spot, maybe if I let them know all my pains and sorrows, they can rekindle hope for me. But, such passivity needs to die, because it tends to make many situations worse. 

I suppose I could seek encouragement through feeling powerful and successful by playing a video game. Maybe shooting an eight-point buck on Cabella’s Big Game Hunter, or clearing the map on Halo would help. Maybe I could feel successful by looking at some rich movie star naked. But those are false options for sure.

No, my encouragement needed to come through real, live relationships. My first year at ManAlive helped me develop relational skills like honesty and vulnerability. As I practiced, I would often over-share details and pains with any and everybody. But I’ve been able to get more efficient the longer I’ve been here. Most people don’t need to know the intimate details, but if they are in close contact with me, they do need to know my feelings.

Matter of fact, as I get to fully know myself and can articulate my feelings and needs, I am able to ask for them directly. What a satisfying moment when the men who know me, who have seen my struggles and my victories, speak directly at the issue and call me back to the man they see.

So it was pretty powerful for me the other day when I got scared. I reached out to my guys and said, “Hey, I need some encouragement.” They came back with “You got this,” “Remember last year when you crushed it,” and  “You are a great example of masculinity.”

Maybe the word solicitation doesn’t work (too much baggage), but being assertive and asking people for what you really need can make all the difference.