3 Reasons I Hate Going to Church on Father’s Day

the psychology of men and fatherhood

My own father was absent from my life for 37 years. Five months after we finally reconnected, he died of a heart attack. But it’s not personal sadness that makes me shy away from church on Father’s Day. It’s what I learned about men after my father passed away. And I cannot bear to sit there and listen. So I just stand up and walk out quietly.

Because the Father’s Day message
is not at all like the Mother’s Day message.

Furthermore, it’s not just one pastor. It has happened in every church I’ve ever attended.

On Mother’s Day, we’re told …

  • to honor & respect the woman who raised us, and
  • to show her appreciation & love for all she does.

However, the Father’s Day message is quite the opposite.

Instead of hearing how wonderful men are & how their families should celebrate them, men get a lecture – meant to be a pep talk, I suppose.

Therefore, fathers are told …

  • You have tons of responsibility. (He’s painfully aware of that already).
  • You’re not doing as good as you could be doing. (He already feels inadequate.)
  • You need to “man up” or your kids will not turn out well. (He already feels emasculated.)

3 Reasons I cannot sit there & listen
without wanting to shout out “STOP!”

Because these well-meaning pastors are actually increasing a father’s pain & vulnerability – without realizing it. He doesn’t recognize that his fellow man’s secretly-held self-perception is just like his:

  1. I am weak.
  2. I am inadequate.
  3. I am filled with shame.

Can we please turn this around? Please?

Research in the psychology of men shows that men respond better to empathy & affirmation than to criticism & shame. Duh.

Empathy for how hard he works & affirmation of what he’s getting right will actually make a man want to be more, to do more. But a man rarely – if ever – gets either one.

So here’s my outline for the perfect Father’s Day Sermon:

  1. We celebrate who you are and acknowledge your incomparable contributions as husbands and fathers, coworkers and friends.
  2. The world doesn’t recognize how truly amazing you are. Nor are you affirmed and encouraged as much as you should be – even within the church.
  3. You protect and provide for your loved ones, helping them solve problems, with a deep desire to see them become the best they can be.
  4. We admire your dedication to keep on keeping on. Even when your own needs (far too often) go unmet.
  5. We’re here to affirm – to cheer you on – and to support you on your journey.

The Good News is …

No matter what your pastor says on Father’s Day, you can put this to work in everyday life. Then watch your man transform into the leader he was created to be – right before your very eyes.

How cool is that?

“For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of His glorious riches He may strengthen you with power through His Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith.”EPHESIANS 3:14-17a