The Spiritual Effect of Poor Male Leadership

Here is a cycle that has contributed to the stunting of men’s maturity in Christ:

Poor or lacking male leadership leads to fewer and less effective men’s ministry leads to women’s models of growth and discipleship being the only option leads to men not being interested in spiritual growth leads to poor or lacking male leadership.

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In my post last week on how groups of men can grow spiritually, I presented a snapshot of a men’s small group that was in high contrast to how women bond and build community with one another. As I stated last week, women prefer sharing, touch, compliments, and emotional intensity. Men prefer humor, challenges, activity, deep purpose, and marks of progress.

As men become less and less a part of church life and leadership, the only model for spiritual growth is the female model of maturity in group settings. The men who are left and searching for a way to Grow Up but are not as interested in the female way and so dismiss small groups or studies as something that is not for them.

There is nothing wrong with the way that groups of women Grow Up but that model can’t be the only option.

Men, there is a way to Grow Up as individuals and in groups. I am willing to try out some of these ideas. Let me know if you are interested.

photo credit: wikimedia commons

How To Grow A Spiritually Mature Man

I am going to lay out some ideas in this space in relation to how groups of men can Grow Up in their Christian Life. These are just ideas, I haven’t tested them but through observation, reading, and my own experience, I believe that this might be a pathway to move men into a more mature faith. I welcome your feedback on these ideas.

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  1. Make it difficult – Men need an animal to go hunt, a palace to defend, and a purpose that is greater than themselves. I have talked in this space about the challenge of the Christian life and how that is by design. If there is no challenge then there is no opportunity for growth.
  2. Give Each Other Nicknames – One of the oddities of male bonding is the need to give each other nicknames. Somehow, calling someone Slim or Lefty is a term of endearment between one man to another. Women don’t give out nicknames, men do. That is weird, I know. Even Jesus gave out nicknames. He called Simon by the name, Peter, which means The Rock. James and John were Sons of Thunder. One of the disciples was named The Zealot. These nicknames brought a since of affection, inclusiveness, uniqueness, and identity. Don’t underestimate the power of a nickname.
  3. Use Humor. If you watch typical depictions of groups of women in film, they show their love for one another through touch, compliments, knowing glances, and words of gratitude. The male depiction is usually centered around one thing: humor. Psychologist may think that men are using humor to mask vulnerability or as a defense mechanism against their true feelings and sorrows. But what if humor is the male way of connecting with one another. If you can share a joke with another male, then you build trust, and an understanding with one another.
  4. Things Can Be Serious. Remember, men who are bonding will bring humor into the situation themselves. So, the task at hand can be serious, even life or death. Men won’t shy away from what is heavy or serious when they know what is at stake. In fact, this will be embraced because it feeds into their sense of purpose.

What do you think? Would this work? Could a study or plan be developed around these ideas? I will be pursuing this and may be calling out some men to test out some of these ideas. If you are interested, let me know.

Do Women Take To Spiritual Things More Than Men?

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:

Women:

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?