MEN & GOD: An Inquiry Into Male Spiritual Life In A Small Group Setting: Part II
This is the final post in the two-part series: Men and God. You may review part one here.
The participants in this inquiry were members of two churches: A large church in the northern suburbs of Chicago and a smaller church in the northwest suburbs of the city. They ranged in age from approximately 30 to age 70. These data were collected from self- selected members of four Spiritual Life Teams: small groups of men who meet for one hour once a month to identify and share their spiritual lives using an original workbook I’d written for this purpose.
The questionnaire was divided into five parts and sent electronically:
- General information: years of membership in this church; family participation in this church; changes you would make in this church (satisfaction/dissatisfaction).
- The meaning of the word “spiritual” in the participant’s life.
- The relationship between maleness and spiritual life.
- Conversations about spiritual life with your father; other family members; working associates; other church members.
- Changes in spiritual life in the aging process.
Results: General Information:
Years of membership in the church ranged from 0 (I am not a member) to 36 years. Usually, the family also participated in the church. Most of the issues of dissatisfaction were about the current emphasis on the lack of money to cover church expenses and negative attitudes associated with the financial problems of the church.
The Meaning of the word, “spiritual” at this time in the participant’s life:
“Being peaceful; serene and reflective as I contemplate my relationship with God at this time.” “Being comfortable leading a life consistent with Jesus’ teaching;” “things happen for a reason.” “Experiencing the very real presence of God.” ”Being open to ‘thin places ’(where your heart is opened to connectedness with self, nature, and others;” “and God Moments.” “How you live your life. Turning to God and thanking God”. “An ongoing journey; thinking about and experiencing God”. “Openness, loving, transparency, a willingness to understand others, gratitude”. “Seeing/feeling God or the Holy Spirit in my life and society”. “We are not just connected to God but to all others through true love and caring for each other”. “Being in touch with God.” “I’ve heard the term spiritual but not religious. I honestly don’t know what that means”. “To be spiritual is to act, think and speak in ways that show one is driven by the Spirit of God.”
The relationship between maleness and spiritual life.
“I do not think that being spiritual makes me any more or less male”. “I do not see the link to maleness. I see the link to being human, flawed and to be ok with that”. “Having enjoyed participating in an all women’s team I didn’t feel any different in my all-male team”. “I believe God and Christ represent love and this crosses all boundaries”. “It may take a bit longer in a men’s team”. “My all-male team greatly accelerated my connectedness to them”. “I do not see my maleness affecting my spiritual life or my spiritual life affecting my maleness”. “I don’t feel any special connection or any affecting intersection between my spiritual life and my maleness”. “Being spiritual is about being self-aware”; “My spiritual life absolutely resonates through me. You are much more connected to others”. “Not much adding to my understanding of myself as a male but definitely adds to my understanding of myself as a father”. “Being spiritual enhances one’s maleness”.
Did you ever have a conversation with your father or father figure about his spiritual life?
Only one participant responded “yes” to this question.
Do you talk to anyone about your spiritual life?
“I generally don’t. Sometimes it comes up and I go with it”. “My actions speak louder than my words”. “I discuss my spirituality with anyone who needs or wants to listen”. “I talk about it to friends, some family, some church members”. “All the time”. “Yes”. “Church members and my kids”. “Friends and family. Have been surprised that many church members do not want to talk about it”. “Occasionally with my daughter; fairly often with my 17-year-old son who is going through an exploration phase. Sometimes my significant other”. “Only my spiritual life team”.
Are you experiencing changes in your spiritual life as you age?
“Not really”. “I think it will only grow”. “I feel I have a duty to share my own spiritual journey”. “I believe my spirituality is no different than a woman’s”. “I have more time to speak and listen”. “Having more time to be aware and reflect”. “I am closer to God”. “I don’t have to be the tough, silent guy”. “No changes”.
Anything else you want to add?
I believe what we are doing is to open a conversation about male spirituality that could have an important impact on the next generation of males. We are opening important doors. Thank you.”
A special message from a spiritual life team member, now living in a different location. I always keep team members who have moved away on my email list so they continue to grow with their team.
“As a remote or distant spiritual life team member, I certainly feel the love gravitational force coming from all of you. The emails you send are great reminders of the spiritual love that unites all of us, sort of like “love glue”. Those God moments and the love glue gives me what I call “Spiritual Confidence” to express my spiritual self to others in ways I would never be able to if not for being part of the spiritual life team program. And because of that, I think I help make the world just a little bit better!”