By Melvin Twigg Mason
Gentlemen, I would like to introduce you to a redefinition of manliness.
Over the next months, I will bring you a series of Cliff Notes-style articles based on R. Kent Hughes’ two books, “Disciplines Of A Godly Man” (updated ©2019) and “Disciplines Of A Godly Young Man” (©2012). Both were released by Crossway Publishing.
The premise of both books is helping men, both young and old, return to a sense of true masculinity in an otherwise emasculating world. More to the point, the author explains practical and necessary ways (disciplines) to accomplish that return to manhood and strength, the way God intended; not strong as in with muscles or demanding rhetoric, but potent in determination, intense in focus. Gentlemen, through this series of articles, let’s set our sights on the essence of real manhood.
Both books are written as a call-to-arms for the male of our species. “…Godly Young Man” is meant to speak to the 30 and under single, while “…Godly Man” speaks to the more seasoned male reader, with a couple of extra chapters written in for the married man (e.g., Fatherhood, Integrity, and Leadership).
They are broken down into four (4) categories:
- Relationships, addressing the importance of a wholesome attitude toward life and the value of solid friendships;
- the Soul, detailing how to create a fulfilling, self-nourishing inner life; which then shines out through your. . .
- Character, how a true man thinks, speaks, works, and walks in this world; and
- Ministry, explaining the positive ways that a whole man interacts with and is a blessing to his family and community.
I will be combining the synopses of both books to give you an ageless perspective of Hughes’ ideology. This series of articles intends to cover all of the topics that the author presents, in a brief but comprehensive way, so that readers might be motivated towards new and different standards of manliness. As the old saying goes, “When you know better, you do better.” It is my hope that you will not only see some of your current self in the writings, but that perhaps you will be drawn to “step up” to the redefined manhood! At the very least, I hope you’ll be encouraged to read one of these actual books for yourself.
Let’s begin this month with the fundamental premise. It’s the first chapter of both books: Discipline for Godliness.
Hughes contends that in today’s morally damaged times, where men act like boys and women fend for themselves, traditional American families have become harder and harder to define, and binary gender roles have been all but eliminated. Because men act less and less like traditionally defined men, boys and young men have fewer role models to look to for examples of basic masculine identity. Hughes indicates that a return to biblical manhood is needed, leaving behind our half-baked ideas of self-sufficiency and individualism. To get there requires the application of fundamental but strategic disciplines. They include, but are not limited to, personal ethics and integrity, keeping one’s word/promises, expanding your intelligence, being more transparent, and following through on commitments.
Hughes compares pursuing a life of discipline to pursuing excellence in sports. He calls it “spiritual sweat,” and every man needs to be willing to put in the necessary effort to be a truly mature, well-rounded male. He drives the point home with example after example of those we all consider to be successful, disciplined men, from sports players to poets to politicians; artists to inventors; and dare I add, fathers and husbands. Each and every one decided to do what it took to be exemplary in their fields and disciplined as men: Winston Churchill, Mike Singletary, Leonardo da Vinci, Tiger Woods, Thomas Edison, Jascha Heifitz, Dr. Gary Chapman, and David Beckham; and the list goes on. Ask any of these experts how they came to be tops in their field and they will tell you a story of disciplined perseverance and training; pursuing a standard higher than “the norm.”
Hughes’ call for men to rise and be disciplined requires turning off media stereotypes and feminist ideals, and turning instead to the One who created manliness in the first place. You can scarcely turn on a TV show or read a magazine article these days without seeing males portrayed as know-it-all buffoons or passively infantile, neither of whom are in touch with their emotions to any appropriate degree. But when our Creator tells us to “act like men” (I Corinthians 16:13-14), He quickly defines what’s included in that command: dedication, principled conviction, strength, and loving kindness.
The question now comes to you and I. Would we like to see a better picture of manhood in our own mirrors, or will we settle for where we are now? What would either choice cost us, or our families? What would be the benefit? Well, according to Hughes, doing better requires spiritual sweat that can be found in the disciplines of these books (and in my upcoming articles.)
Will you accept the challenge? C’mon, act like a man!