Mar 052018 8 Responses

Why Men Lose Faith

Transitions are a common time for men to recognize the importance of faith. When they get married, have children, or when those children start school, it’s not uncommon for someone who has long ignored faith to begin to consider their relationship with God. Not only do these moments cause a man to consider the impact they will have on others, marriage and parenting make us deeply aware of our own inadequacies and our need for help.

But just as I often see men come to faith in their late 20s and early 30s, I often see them leave it in their 40s. Why?

3 Common Elements of a Man in His 40s

While the age and circumstances may vary in specific circumstances, a convergence of several issues are often at play for a man in his forties.

1. Pressure. While pressure is present in every season of life, it is often greater than it’s ever been for a man in his forties. Financial pressures are present as a spouse (or ex) and children are dependent on him for income. By this age, many men have risen in their career to experience the weight of making vital decisions which impact companies and individuals. As parents begin to age, a man in his forties begins to recognize his role in taking care of the family.

2. Affluence. While the finances put pressure on a man, they also provide opportunities he has never had before. Many men in their 40s are making good salaries which provide them the ability to purchase more things, travel, and consider opportunities they’ve never previously had available.

3. Weariness. Men are often aware of their mortality, but it becomes more real when he reaches the half-life of the average lifespan. Not only do men begin to recognize the limit of their days, they also are tired from a decade of pushing their needs aside and putting other people/responsibilities first.

It’s the combination of these three factors which often sets a man up for a horrible deception. While it’s right for a man to consider his life and make changes based on those understandings, many men make spiritually fatal decisions in their mid-life which have lasting consequences for themselves and others. As pressure, affluence, and weariness intersect, men begin to think to themselves that they need a break. The pressure and weariness make them feel as though something must change and the affluence gives them ample opportunities to make those changes.  The result–they sacrifice long-term goals for short-term outcomes. (See: How to Come Back to Faith)

Needing a change, they push faith to the side and replace it with other things–a hobby, family time, a social commitment, etc. None of the replacements are bad. As a matter of fact, some of them are the very places that men need to be spending more time. The problem is what is lost as they make new commitments. Rather than working less or cutting back other responsibilities, men often drift from habits which nourish their soul. They stop volunteering. Stop spending time in small groups. And eventually, stop attending corporate worship services unless they happen to be in town and free. In short, they drop out of a meaningful role in a church.

What’s dangerous is that they never recognize the connection between involvement in church and their relationship with God. To them, they are still people of faith. It’s just a personal, private faith that doesn’t need involvement with a local church. Sadly, they never recognize this type of faith is foreign to Christianity and in no way represents the teachings of the New Testament. (See: Your Christianity Isn’t Christian)

The Consequence of Failed Faith

When a man walks away from faith early in mid-life, his decisions have many negative consequences.

Marriage. Mid-life is often the toughest season of marriage. At the very time in which a man has an increased need of healthy role models, solid teaching on marriage, and encouragement to stick with his commitments, he has walked away from the best source for those things. Taking a step away from faith is never taking a step toward marriage.

Parenting. A weakened faith throws a double-whammy to parenting. Not only does it separate a man from strong encouragement to be a good father, it also sets a horrible example for his children. Few things influence our children’s faith as much as the decisions we make when they are in school. More than hearing what we say, they will see what we do. If we do not model a vibrant faith while they are in school, they likely will not possess a vibrant faith for themselves.

Foundation. Even if a man walks back to faith as he ages, spending a decade or two out of church during the prime of his life negatively impacts him personally for the rest of his life. The lessons learned about God when we face some of the greatest pressures of our lives cannot be replicated in other settings. When a man fails to walk with God through their 30s, 40s, and early 50s, he is robbing himself of what will be his faith foundation later in life.

What Should a Man Do

While the decision (often unconscious) which many men make to walk away from faith is wrong, the feelings that often influence those decisions are right. Not every season of life is the same. When a man feels the need to make some changes, he often needs to make changes. However, it’s the changes which are made that need to be different. Rather than walking from God, a man needs to walk closer with God. Rather than weakening the model he gives to his wife and children, he needs to strengthen it.

Here’s what a man should do:

Commit. Draw closer to God. Recognize your need. Admit it. And do something about it. Commit to walk with God through every season of life.

Grow. Rather than walking toward what is easy, embrace your weaknesses and need. If you don’t know the Bible, learn. If you’ve never been discipled, find a mentor in the faith. Many men get bored with their faith, but the boredom is because they aren’t growing. (See: Questions of Faith Are Answered in Times of Doubt)

Model. You can never be perfect, but you can model for your family and friends a life that seeks the heart of God. As a byproduct of your faith, be a faithful member of a local church and sacrifice your time, energies, and money in service of that local congregation. Even as you find someone to mentor you, find someone else whom you can help in their faith.

For some, manhood is a time where their faith is squandered never to fully return. For others, it’s a time of great change as they deepen their commitment to God and spiritually transform because of grace. Allow the pressure in life to drive you to God. Let the weariness remind you of your need for Him. And use your influence to impact your faith and the faith of others.

8 Responses to Why Men Lose Faith
  1. […] Yet many couples fail to do this. (See: Why Men Lose Faith) […]...

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