I have always struggled with direction in my life. I have always desired to make something of myself, but for many years lacked the tools to do so. I used to blame my lack of progress on situations outside of my control. I grew up without a dad, so my failures were actually his fault. I lost my brother to cancer at 17 years old, so I couldn’t move forward and that was griefs fault.
I took this past year to be still. I was running like a hamster in a wheel but I wasn’t going anywhere, and so I felt God tell me to pause. I slowed down and I took an entire year just to reflect on who I was, and how I had gotten here. I stopped trying to be something people would notice, and I just took opportunities to serve people who felt forgotten. You know what I learned in my year of volunteer work? That I didn’t need to be a victim, and that people who go through trauma, often gain all the tools necessary to be strong. I felt most alive when I was working, even if I wasn’t getting paid for it. When I was able to pour my energy into my work, I didn’t feel depressed, I felt purpose.
The twenty-first-century man is finding himself in a huge dilemma. With negative media messages and job loss, men on a global scale are losing their role in society. Men were created with prestige and honor in Eden; but after Adam fell and the pair discovered themselves naked, the males of the race have been recipients of a degenerating legacy.
Here is what Ray Williams had to say about men in his article published in 2010: First, we are seeing a significant shift in education and employment trends which will have a significant impact on male identities. Boys are seriously under-achieving in public schools in the U.S., Canada, the U.K. and Australia, according to several recent research studies. Men now comprise barely 40% of enrolled University and College students and graduates.
NEXT STEPS: Young Adult Ministry Training
In fact, a gender education gap, in which women are far outpacing men in terms of educational achievement, has been quietly growing in America over the past few decades. In 2009, for instance, women will earn more degrees in higher education than men in every possible category, from bachelor’s level to Ph.D.’s, according to the U.S. Department of Education. When it comes to masters-level education, for instance, U.S. women earn 159 degrees for every 100 awarded to men. For the first time, less than 50% of law school graduates are men in North America.
It is clear that leading experts are seeing this trend in the men of the twenty-first century. Williams goes on to say that women are passing men in every area of life. For the first time in this earth’s history, women are taking roles of power such as principals, political figures, and church leaders. As women continue to excel, why are so many men floundering? It has been proven that when a man loses his job he suffers severe depression.
This study by the American Journal of Community Psychology said, “As income falls—as in the case of job loss, rates of depression increase. Losing a job can prove especially traumatic for men, who tend to identify more with their careers than do women. The suicide rate among unemployed men is twice that of men who are working. The risk of suicide increases with age as well. Men who are without work sometimes view themselves as expendable and often describe the loss of a job using terms such as ‘catastrophic’ and ‘devastating’. Unemployed people are twice as likely as employed people to suffer from psychological problems (34 percent to 16 percent), and blue-collar workers are more distressed by unemployment than those who’ve lost a white-collar job. From lack of education to job loss and depression, men are losing their identity all around the world. The side effects of these events are leaving families around the world in a state of dysfunction and could be contributing to the latest epidemic: fatherless homes.”
Since the fall, humanity was given a pronouncement of judgment: achievement comes through toil. You will not be able to even take a bite of food without breaking a sweat to get it. Want to know a correlation to crime? Unemployment. Apparently when the descendants of Adam are not working, they are more likely to engage in deviant behavior. You develop character through the sweat of your brow and working hard to get what you need. God knew this. He knew what sin would do, and how idle hands would lead to poor character, especially in men. So God, in His judgment, also provides fallen men with a place to divert their energy, they should work, and that work would help bring fulfillment.
Depression is obviously a complicated topic. There are biological factors, relational factors, grief and so much more. I don’t think a man getting a job will solve all his problems, but it may solve one, and that one may relieve some of the burden so that he can grab hold of the next one.
I used to think that I wanted a job with purpose, and now in this year of self-reflection, I discovered that I just have to bring purpose to the job. You don’t have to get picked up by the biggest law firm, or get a promotion that moves you to the city. You can find purpose wherever you can find service, and you can serve right where you are.