I hate books for men.
I never relate to them. They show me a version of masculinity (often called ‘biblical’) that is far removed from the reality of my life. I feel like men’s ministry’s in churches do this too. They focus on some cultural ideals of masculinity (often pitted against the feminine) and make me feel inadequate, small, and less of a man.
So, I picked up Nate Pyle’s book with some hesitation to say the least. The last thing I need is someone telling me to ‘man up’ and be some biblical version of a macho man, rough, rugged, wild, and somehow more primal. In addition to these qualities, I am supposed to be a good provider financially for my family, able to connect with my wife on an emotional level, be respected at work and in the community, and never weak.
It’s a bunch of bullshit I don’t need in my life.
Nate writes with humility and grace, constantly comparing our ideas of manhood to the full person of Jesus and calls us in multiple ways to become fully human, just like Jesus. He is relentless in this call bringing every chapter back to this.
I have two critiques of this book. In some places, it reads like a long blog post that could use some editing and condensing. I would have liked to see some ideas explored further instead of rehashing some ideas. The other thing is that in some places he seems to reaffirm the gender roles that the church has distorted, suggesting that masculinity is about doing stuff in the world, bringing about change, and feminine is about nurturing. Then again, he spends a good chapter at the end telling us that masculine and feminine are called to the same divine mission in the world.
All in all, this was a refreshing read, especially when it comes to books aimed toward men. I would recommend this book for every church men’s group. If we take Nate’s message to heart we end up chasing wholeness instead of macho masculinity.