Help for men who feel washed up

  • ValentinHave you seen the film, “The Artist”? It won this year’s Oscar for best picture. It’s the story of George Valentin, a silent movie star whose career is sunk by the advent of “talkies” in 1930. Valentin goes from famous to forgotten in a matter of months. He descends into a deep depression, refuses the help of others, and even attempts suicide.

    America in 2012 is full of George Valentins.

    Millions of men lost their jobs in the great recession. It’s been dubbed the “he-cession” because almost 80% of the job cuts fell upon men. Male dominated fields such as construction, finance and transportation shed millions of jobs. In 2011, for the first time in US history, more women than men were gainfully employed. Joblessness is running nearly 50% among young men in some European countries.

    Men are suffering. They’re confused about their roles and their futures. What a perfect opportunity for the church to step forward and offer help.

    Your church may want to launch a ministry for people who need jobs. Trinity Episcopal Parish in Princeton, NJ has offered a JobSeekers meeting every Tuesday since 1982. It’s billed as “an instruction and support group for people who are unemployed or changing careers.” JobSeekers has ministered to over 25,000 individuals over the past 30 years.

    If you want to start a Job Seekers ministry in your church, visit the Career Transition Ministries Network Web site.

    Unemployed men also need friendship and spiritual encouragement. It’s a great time to invite them to join a small men’s group, because they have one thing that working men don’t – lots of spare time. The bigger challenge is getting them to come.

    Unemployed men tend to isolate themselves. They’re ashamed not to be working. They don’t want to socialize with other men because when guys get together they tend to talk about their jobs.

    So be gentle but persistent when inviting unemployed men to join a small group. It may take a while, but many men eventually overcome their fears and end up happy members of the group.

    If an unemployed man joins your group, caution the other guys not to talk about work. Keep the small talk focused on things every guy is interested in – sports, hobbies, family and the like.

    The Bible is full of stories of men who lost their positions in life. Joseph was jailed. David was exiled. Elijah fled for his life. Jonah was swallowed by a whale. Hosea’s wife cheated on him. Paul was betrayed by his closest companions. Help men see that their unemployment is not a punishment from God, but rather a normal part of life. Encourage them not only to ask God for a new job, but to reveal his purpose for their lives.

    It’s often difficult to convince a man of his need for God when he’s on top of the world. But when he reaches the end of his rope he’s often more willing to “humble himself under the mighty hand of God.” We have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to help displaced men gain a bigger vision for their lives. Let’s not waste it.

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    July 5th, 2012 | David Murrow | 8 Comments |

About The Author

David Murrow

David Murrow is the director of Church for Men, an organization that helps congregations reach more men and boys. In his day job, David works as a television producer and writer. He's the author of four books. He lives in Alaska with his wife, three children, three grandchildren and a dachshund named Pepper.

  • JamielCotman

    This is a strong statement but I believe if mens ministry is done right, this would be less of a problem. Guys are putting too much stock in where they work, instead of in their God-given assignment. This is one of the core lessons our church here in VA teaches men who are training to get the sword [ a REAL sword we issue to guys who complete the course]. Divine assignment, or, the problem you were created to solve, that which you do for others on Gods behalf, is far, far more important and fulfilling than a job. Yet guys haven’t been taught that. Women encourage men to put all of their stock in having a job so he can provide for her. Mens leaders need to step up and show them how to identify and find fulfillment in their God-given assignments

    …in spite of what they do for money along the way.

  • David Murrow

    Men have always derived their sense of self-worth from their jobs. This isn’t going to change. But the church can help men by helping them see their inherent worth to God, and helping them see their mission as more than just making a living.

  • Victor Encinas

    Hey David,
    Every man out of a job and not sure what direction they go should read Dan Miller’s 48 Days to the Work You Love. Great starting point for people looking to find out “what they want to do when they grow up”.

    Victor Encinas

  • Llward

    This trend of men to feel worthless when they loose their jobs or retire…and maybe subsequent ever increasing divorce by heartless unGodly females is a major hurdle to overcome.  It should not be that way since God and Christ were men…not females.  So men should never feel alone because Christ is always there. He says HE! will never leave nor forsake us like the females seem to choose these days especially after the man looses his job or retires and feels useless.. After all, Adam was God’s preference, His First Creation…then came Sin of Eve!!!!!!!!!!!! So just being a man like our God is a jump above divorcing females…that have mostly been dependents…..and dump mentally and emotionally the Men of their lives…Men sense this emotional abandonment upon job loss or retirement…and divorce by women!

  • Bryan

    I’ve been there, done that, got the t-shirt.  Back-to-back job loses.  Prior to the great recession (which I think is still ongoing by the way).  Went back to work, then started my own business.  Then had it fall apart when the real estate market collapsed.  It’s hard.  Didn’t expect life to be like this.  Could have used more help than I got.  But we’re not supposed to look to church to see what it can do for us (according to most Pastors).  Cause it’s not about us, it’s about “them” (whoever “them” are).  Well, when you’ve just been knocked on your arse by a job loss or a business failure, what does it take to get into the “them” category?

  • JamielCotman

    While I don’t agree with you on the whole ‘God is a man thing’ [though indeed, Jesus, Gods SON, DID walk this earth as a man] I am TOTALLY with you on the hurdle of men finding self worth in Christ…instead of their jobs.

    I read a few studies that concluded not only do women initiate MOST divorces [one citing as many as 90%] but that men deal with breakups way harder because we are less verbal. So guys get a doubly-whammy when they lose their jobs. One, because the woman is more likely to leave. And two, because we tend to put our self-worth in our jobs. That’s why I think men need to put their worth in their place in Christ and their assignments, in spite of what they do to earn cash along the way. These higher things are more eternal and stable [you know]. I believe a good men’s group facilitates it though. Its the food that perishes not [John 6:27-29]. So yea we can help them get jobs, but like I tell the guys at my church, come back to the men’s meetings for the spiritual food. We even teach the single men how to pick the right women, who will stick by them with or without a job, given that they are still living for Christ and doing their best to lead in the home. I always tell single men that you can’t buy a virtuous woman anyway. That’s what Proverbs 31: 10 means when it says, “her price is far above rubies.” 

    And that’s my point, men need MENS MINISTRY to keep this stuff in front of them during the sharp turns in life. But today’s churches just teach the gals how to find a Jesus-prince charming-Boaz that pays for everything. Nobody is talking to the single men. 

  • Jfieri

    You can’t tell men that their inherent self-worth from success is wrong and needs to be changed. It’s yet another message from the Church to men that their God-given nature needs to change in order to fit into Christian culture. It’s Christian culture that needs to change and to stop square pegging men into round, feminine holes.

  • Tony H

    I lost my job 2 years ago at 60 years old no chance of getting a job, but now I put my strengths into voluntary work. My worth in in Jesus my job is helping others as He did, my rewards are being blessed every day because I’m working by showing others that some one cares for them