I have quite a backstory when it comes to men and spirituality. My life has been saved by the dynamic of grace between my mom and dad in their spiritual journey together.
I remember my mom becoming a true Christian believer when I was very young. When I was slightly older I remember my dad starting to attend church. It was a long time after that that he actually became committed to Christ himself, though he never missed a church service.
I learned from my dad as an adult that he started coming to church out of a sense of duty to his family. Mom’s Christian upbringing was much different than dad’s, and dad went for years feeling like he was just fine compared to some of the representatives of Christianity he had experienced. Still, he felt his sons should see him in church on Sunday.
Though my dad never was pressured to commit any further than just attending church, he eventually found his way to a deep faith that has been an an anchor for me through the years. More amazingly, my mom has always been rock-steady in her faith and allowed my dad to make his journey from spiritual seeker to spiritual leader as his faith developed.
Men are at their best spiritually when… they can be transparent seekers that become spiritual leaders.
Women have long held prominence as spiritual leaders- reliant on faith practices, teachers of faith in the home, consistent attenders and participants in the faith community. I am persuaded that if men feel that faith and spirituality are the domain of women, there will be little effort to aspire to spiritual leadership in the home. And because men may be reluctant to participate in teaching or demonstrating such a lifestyle, it becomes easy for women to hold on to that role of spiritual leader, which seems to be easier than trying to share it. Having described this dynamic, let me make these points:
Men need the chance to observe, rationalize, and begin to feel the tugging toward a spiritual life.
Men need to be actively invites to participate in spiritual life (at home and in the community).
Men need to know its ok to be transparent and vulnerable, if not with the family or spouse, with someone who can give them guidance.
Men need the chance to grow into spiritual leadership in the home and community.
In a home or community where men have not been active in spiritual life and leadership, it can be a drastic shift to allow a once apathetic or reluctant man to have a meaningful role. A mother and wife who has always been the spiritual leader can easily feel put-out by a husband/father who wants to take a role in spiritual leadership and development in the home. The idea is not for women to give up anything but to become a partner with the man in leading their family spiritually.
As in my experience, it takes so much grace to allow a man to go from observer to seeker to leader, but it is worth it in order to help a man be his best spiritually. The effects will be extremely positive for him, for the family, and for the community.
I have more to say about men with children who are not married to their children’s mothers. While difficult, these men can develop spiritually and provide value to their children through spiritual leadership.
What do you think? I would like your stories and feedback!