A lot of religion does not appeal to men. For some it’s too “head” oriented, too intellectualized. For others it’s too “heart” oriented, too sentimentalized. For many, organized religion simply does not speak to where men find themselves, struggling to make ends meet, to please their partners and spouses, to keep up with their children, and still have time to delve every once in a while into contemplation of their interior spiritual lives. This is not to say that men find religion irrelevant. Good sermons, rousing music, and the relationships that form in spiritual communities all contribute positively to men’s lives. But often it’s not enough.
As a pastor for over three decades, I found that men responded best when there was a hands-on project in the church that needed to get done. I’ll never forget the day we began major renovations to the interior of our church. We committed ourselves to emptying the structure entirely prior to the contractor starting his work. The men of the parish came in large numbers to take out all the benches, to rip down the unsympathetic structures, to take up the carpeting and tile. Within a Sunday afternoon we filled a huge dumpster, gave away the old pews for reuse, and cleared the vast interior. This kind of community-building was repeated whenever a practical job had to be done.
Male spirituality as quiet contemplation has its place but many men need to be doing something while contemplating. They need to keep their hands busy, be it fishing, golfing, hiking, or mowing the lawn. My own father did a lot of meditation while grocery shopping each week. We cannot underestimate the amount of valuable interior work that men do without appearing to be “praying” or “meditating”, as valuable as these activities are.
I would love to hear from men as to their experience with God as they are working, doing, and keeping their bodies busy in order to quiet down their minds. I have never seen any studies showing the positive effects of this form of spirituality.
So MEN, let me hear from you. Tell me what goes on in your hearts and minds when you let them drift into God’s presence in the midst of your activities. Please reply to this blog.
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