4 Reasons Christian Men Struggle Spiritually by J. LEE GRADY for Charisma News
Last weekend, I led a three-day retreat for 125 men in Pittsburgh. The guys came from more than a dozen states as well as Canada. There were teenagers, college students, 20-somethings, hipsters, jocks, young fathers, businessmen and a few retirees. And the ethnic mix included Ugandan, Korean, Ethiopian, Russian, Hispanic and Ghanaian.
Despite our racial diversity and age differences, all the men shared pretty much the same spiritual needs. After 35-year-old youth pastor Daren Duncan preached a compassionate but confrontational message about pornography on Friday night, men from every background stepped up to the church altar to ask for prayer for freedom from the shame of past sins.
It was wonderful to see some of those guys, both young and old, weep openly as they confessed their mistakes to another brother in Christ. When the event ended on Saturday afternoon, the men didn’t want to leave because they had found so much support from their new friends.
What happened in Pittsburgh needs to be repeated all over this country because Christian men are in crisis. Their marriages are shaky, their families are under siege and men themselves are struggling spiritually—yet they rarely tell anyone what’s going on underneath their inch-thick protective body armor. Too many Christian men are on lockdown, silently suffering but too afraid to admit they are in pain.
After leading these retreats for men for the past 10 years, I’ve identified four main reasons why men in our churches are hurting.
1. We have deep father wounds. The very word “father” hits a raw nerve for a lot of guys. Many men suffer from what we could call a “father ache.” A lot of guys have a deep void in their hearts because their dads were either absent entirely when they were young, emotionally distant, abusive or addicted. That’s a big reason they struggle to understand the unconditional love of the heavenly Father.
2. We don’t have supportive relationships. When I was a boy, everyone was familiar with the Marlboro Man, the most recognized icon in American advertising. This rugged cowboy was always with his horse in a Western setting, and he was always smoking a cigarette. His tough-guy image carried the subliminal message that real men are always alone.