This weekend, I will be leading a men’s retreat consisting of about 7 guys. I began thinking about how men approach spiritual matters and whether or not women approach the spiritual life more easily than men? Here are some of my observations:
enjoy talking more than men (making sharing fears, doubts, and struggles easier)
are usually more emotional (the deep spiritual experiences may be felt more profoundly by women)
may be more compassionate (the needs of others may be much more important to them than men)
are more communal (being together with other like-minded individuals, usually other women, is important to women)
On the surface it looks like these characteristics would make spiritual formation and growth more of a women’s activity rather than men. Men prefer action and going and doing which sometimes results in skipping the spiritual aspects of the faith. So what is the balance, in the spiritual life, that men provide that creates a more well-rounded communal spiritual environment. I think it is wisdom. As I think about the women in the Bible I think of big hearts and big love. When I think about the men of the Bible, at least the good ones, I think about big wisdom and the ability to speak with inspiration from God. I am not trying to make exclusive designations here, I am just making general observations. For a family or a church to be a spiritually mature organization, it needs both the heartfelt countenance of women and the reserved, big picture wisdom of men.
Just because I am a male doesn’t make me more wise than my wife but I believe that God has created men with a proclivity towards wisdom that doesn’t come as easily for women. Just as women are more capable, sometimes, at compassion, love, and service, men posses traits and the make up to be wise and thoughtful in a profound way. Wisdom is as much a spiritual quality as compassion or love. It involves using non-physical parts of our selves such as thoughts, ideas, choices, and the will. Wisdom may be one of the most neglected aspects of the Bible. Wisdom takes up not just paragraphs of the Bible but whole books of the Bible.
Maybe if churches would talk about wisdom growth rather than spiritual growth they may have more success in attracting men to things like a men’s retreat. What do you think? Are men’s and women’s spiritual lives the same?