Blessed to Be a Blessing
by Mike Clawson
In the Hebrew scriptures, we are told how Abraham, father of the three great desert faiths, received these words from God: “I will surely bless you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky…and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed.” That ancient narrative teaches a great spiritual truth, that we receive good things, not just for our own benefit, but so that we might share them with others. We are blessed in order to be a blessing to others.
There’s a temptation in the spiritual life to focus so much on our inner experience and our own personal growth that we forget to look outward to the deep needs of the world. The journey of awakening and illumination is, of course, a lifelong process, so it’s tempting to think, “Once I’ve arrived, once I figure it all out for myself, then I’ll be ready to serve others.”
Sometimes we even justify this inward focus by arguing that all the world really needs is spiritually healthy people—that if we all just focused on our own personal growth, that alone would solve the world’s problems. And there’s some truth there—the healing of the world does depend on the healing of our own wounds as well. But more is needed. Our journey is both inward toward the true self and outward to the needs of the world. As Richard Rohr has said, “We need both action and contemplation to have a whole spiritual journey…. They need and feed each other.” We receive spiritual blessings so we can bless others with them in turn.
This is why, in this new year, I have stepped into the newly created position of Director of Engagement and Outreach for Illuman. Over the past several years, Illuman’s energy has been largely directed inward: refining our mission, vision, and values so we can get clearer on what is, and is not, ours to do; implementing better systems to help us do our work more efficiently; developing new governance structures to better integrate the wisdom of both the head and the heart into all that we do. All of this has been good and necessary, but it’s time, now, to look outward, to the work that we exist to do in the world: to bless even more men with the gifts that we ourselves have been given through our connection with Illuman.
What are those blessings for you? Was it a Rites of Passage that broke you open as you confronted your grief, core wounds, and hard truths? Perhaps it was one of our local events that transformed your relationship with your spouse, children, parents, or community. Maybe it was a Soularize or Awaken gathering, or in a Council group where you discovered a brotherhood of men offering safe space to be your true self. Or was it simply a poem or an article in these Drumbeat newsletters that inspired and moved you in a new way?
Whatever it was, I encourage you to not keep it to yourself. Bless others with the blessings you have received. Invite a man to join you in Council. Bring a father or son or brother with you to our Awaken gathering next fall. Encourage a friend to do the Rites of Passage and offer to be there holding space for him as part of the Initiator Program. Forward this email to someone who might need what it offers.
You will hear more from us this coming year about ways to share the gifts Illuman has to offer even more widely, with any man who might need it. But you don’t need to wait to get started. You have already been blessed, whatever that looks like for you. Now you are called to be a blessing to all those around you.
Mike Clawson has been Illuman’s Administrator for the past two years and is now serving as the new Director of Engagement and Outreach.