Book Review: ‘Play the Man’ – Mark Batterson

PTMcoverWhere did we lose sight of what it means to be a man?
As we look around society it’s increasingly obvious that we have lost our way. Men seem to have neglected their responsibilities to teach the next generation of men, leaving boys trying to figure things out for themselves or follow their peers. Adding to the mayhem, more and more kids are growing without a dad (or in some cases even a father figure) to teach them what they need to know, or have someone to cheer them on or coach them. No wonder men in our society are confused and lost when it comes to their roles in society.

Mark Batterson arrives with a great book Play the Man to address the issue and start to look at really practice ways to attack this head on. Mark Batterson is the New York Times bestselling author who’s works include The Circle Maker and The Grave Robber, and Pastor of the multi site National Community Church in Washington DC.

A book, for men?
“Is it a picture book?” I hear you shout from the cheap seats.
Okay… men aren’t renowned for their reading skills, in fact it’s something that Mark himself even addresses in his book.

“According to the Pew Research Institute, half of adults read fewer than five books per year. Men read 13 percent fewer books than women”

I’ve been an admirer of Mark’s writing for years and the main reason is simple ‘readability’ – it’s easy to read.
It’s obvious that Mark is well read as he has a real knack of taking a tale and twisting it full of intrigue and natural logic. To this he adds a dash of science and pinch of history. 
Batterson is the the author for men who want substance,  don’t want to read the Encyclopedia Britannica and still want to learn.

In ‘Play the Man’ Mark uncovers what he calls the seven virtues of Manhood.
The six virtues of Manhood in the book are:

  • Tough love (sacrificing yourself for others)

  • Childlike  wonder (never losing your desire to learn about God’s world)

  • Will power (that sanctified stubborn streak)

  • Raw passion (an infectious enthusiasm)

  • True grit (the combination of passion and perseverance)

  • Clear vision (knowing what you’re fighting for)

In ‘Play the Man‘ Mark is able to use  his natural storytelling ability to share an anecdote about manhood, the good the bad and the ugly. However the thing that makes this book great is his ability to be able to couple that together with the scriptures, and give really practical ways to teach this to the next generation of men.

Let’s be honest, men are really great at avoidance and I wonder if we have lost our way a little because of it? Men are living in some weird void where it seem like we have become the joke of the party. I think it was Scottish comedian Billy Connolly who said “Middle aged white males are the only people you can make fun of without being told off” and he’s right to a point. Men are living in a no mans land where manhood is skewed.

The subtitle of ‘Play the Man’ is ‘Becoming the Man God created you to be’.
This is more than just a book, it’s a manual for manhood. Imagine if this is shared, developed locally, put into practice and focused on, it could be the start of a manhood revolution that could change the world.

The revolution starts at home, in our families and in our communities. Are you willing to ‘Play the Man’?

Viva La Revolution

Mums being Dads

English: Mother's Day card

English: Mother’s Day card (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Today we celebrate Mothers day.

Now it has to be said Mothers have one of the hardest jobs that you can have… not only do they have to carry the baby inside them for 9 month (while it takes first pick of all the nutrients etc…), they then have to give birth to him/her, and from that point on they are assigned to a full time job with no weekends EVER… In fact there is as saying that says

“Yay it’s Friday, the weekend is finally here… oh wait… that’s right I’m a MOTHER”

Isn’t that true… and lets be fair how many Mothers still had to make their own dinner and tidy their houses for their family today? (guys you really need to step up!)

As much as I think days like Valentines day have been “Hallmarked” to sell as many cards as possible… Mothers day is one I will happily buy into.

However there is a trend in our society that is getting darker and stronger… and I wonder how good it is for our society as a whole.
Women are now choosing to their job over their children… in other words they are choosing to let someone else raise their child.
Now I understand that in some cases a mum going back to work is a necessary thing… Mortgages,  rising bills costs etc… and then all of a sudden you get pregnant… It’s hard…I understand this.
What my issue is that women are so intent on being shoulder to shoulder with men in society that they are BECOMING like men, and that’s not a good thing.

It used to be that the Mother stayed home and raised the child… taught it the values that the family had and gave the children boundaries that they used as building blocks in life.
The Father went to work and brought home enough money to keep the family clothed and feed and pushed them to excel and stand up for themselves… however in today’s society there is such a sense of entitlement that all this has been left in the gutter.
Today parents want the new house, the new car, they want to use the degree that they spent time and money working on… but you see once you start to look at it like this you start to notice… it’s about ME.
I want a new car…
I want a new house…
I want a holiday…
(and sure you can come up with 50 reasons to justify your decision but the reality is still the same isn’t it???)

The role of a Mother is far to valuable to throw away as a part time job…
A Mother is the hub of a family group.

With the trend to work instead of home… what ends up happening is the Mother always loses.
She may work hard and get all the way to the top of her field… but when you talk to a lot of these people they will tell you about the sense of guilt they had letting someone else raise their kid…
Someone who doesn’t have the same values… someone who doesn’t have the same beliefs… and a lot of what they end up doing is buying things with the kids in mind, taking them places, buying them things, filling the weekend with the things they couldn’t do in the week to make up for the time they didn’t spend with their children…
When all the child wants… is time with their Mama!
You see they are cheating on their child… running away with work.
We’re all cheating time from someone… who are you stealing your time from?

And then on the other hand…

You have the Mother at home… working hard to raise their child, not having the same amount of money, meaning they have forfeited the new house, they have passed by the new car, they have to wait for that holiday. They are helping give their child the tools they need to live as a valuable member of society as a member of their family group.
However… they still feel like a loser, they’re guilty because they can’t support the family (especially if they’re living on a lower income), they are aware they’re letting their degrees and study go to waste as they spend time up to their waste in nappies and snacks and laundry.

Around this time of year I’m reminded of the famous story of a nun who worked in a men’s prison.
One day, she said, a prisoner asked her to buy him a Mother’s Day card for his mother. She did, and the word traveled like wildfire around the prison. Deluged with requests, she called Hallmark Cards, who obliged with huge boxes of Mother’s Day cards as a donation. The warden arranged for each inmate to draw a number, and they lined up through the cell blocks to get their cards.

 Weeks later, the nun was looking ahead on her calendar, and decided to call Hallmark again and ask for as many Father’s Day cards, in order to avoid another rush. As Father’s Day approached, the warden announced free cards were again available at the chapel. To the nun’s surprise, not a single prisoner ever asked her for a Father’s Day card.

Fathers who are not an active part of their families often leave a child wounded by absence–emotional as well as physical.
And it’s harder to recognize than others. However what often happens is it leaves women who may feel the need for physical intimacy that they have never felt from a guy before… women who have never known what a love from a guy should look like… If you have a look in society you will find that this is leading to so many unplanned pregnancy’s.

Or guys who have never been taught how to treat the opposite sex so a young boy thinks that being a man means the need for fast sex, to drink large amounts of alcohol, which then often leads to isolation and sometimes violence. No wonder our prisons are bulging.

Yet the scary thing is that even the average, law-abiding man today hasn’t had a father who said, “You’re my son and I love you,” or who helped him discover his unique talents and abilities. It would be too easy for a young boy to mis-focus his muscles, intelligence and energies destructively instead of creatively.

Yet this is often what Women are wanting for their children… wanting for themselves.
They are wanting to be more like men…
They want to run away and leave their families to be brought up by someone else…

But here’s the thing.

It’s the women who are actually holding our communities together…
It’s just that the society has chosen things like Money and Jobs and Degrees and success to be the measurements of what it means to be a good person… and ‘just being a mum’ falls way down the list and way of societies radar.

If you want to REALLY succeed in society being a great mum is the best thing you could do… both for your child… and your wider community

Mothers I tip my hat to you.

You have the hardest job in the world… it’s often the least rewarding… but I have a sense that if this was removed from our society (as we are already seeing) it all starts to fall apart.

Don’t give up on becoming a great mum …

Fathers who dare win.

All Blacks v England

Rugby isn’t as important as the things my dad taught me

I remember someone asking me the things that my dad had taught me. It’s easy to rattle off the kind of things that you would expect a dad to do with their sons… fixing cars, changing tyres, kicking rugby balls in the park, going to rugby games and mulling over the technicalities of the All Black scrums front row…
While my dad and I did a lot of these things they’re not the things that I’m proud that my dad taught me.

My dad is my hero… not because he has saved the world from extreme famine, saved someone from a burning building or even something really cool like being a race car driver… while these things are cool, I’m proud of my dad because I know where he stands.

He’s not the kind of dad to try and be cool… he never tried to smuggle me an under age drink without mum knowing… he never tried to start an after formal party as a way to befriend me or my friends… if he had done that the only thing he would have done was to become my personal bank, someone who I would run to when I needed something. It wouldn’t be anything deeper than a personal benefactor.
However my dad was much smarter than that.

My dad was love and friendship wrapped up in authority…

When I was in trouble dad didn’t just tell me off… I knew I was trouble and I knew I had disappointed not just myself but also my dad too.
Dad would help me to think about what I had done wrong… and then gave me the tools to fix the problem.

I respected my dad… I still do.

My dad taught me the important things in life…

  • That people are important
  • Be a person of integrity
  • Don’t be too much of a man to show love
  • You may have lots of expensive things but at the end of the day it’s only ‘stuff’
  • Having a faith is a wise decision not a foolish hope…

These to me are important things.

And at the end if the day I can go to my dad about almost anything…
he’s a good friend…
he’s an awesome mentor…
he’s a great role model…

To be honest I wish I was more like my dad.

I remember Ian Grant (the father whisperer) once quote Daman Wayan he said:

“I wanted to be just like my dad… except for the drug habit, the failed marriages, the temper and the guns”

I can happily say my dad wasn’t like that…
I’m who I am today because of what my dad chose to spend time working on in my life.

How do you stop a tidal wave crashing through your heart?

Heart of snow

My heart just isn’t big enough

I used to think that I had a big heart… I thought I loved lots.

It’s only been recently that I have discovered how small my heart is… it’s just not big enough.

I have a small heart.

I’ve been thinking about how much I love my family… my closest friends… I honestly want them to do the best, I want them to strive for bigger things and not just survive, I want their relationships to be great, I want them to know how AWESOME they are, I want them to reach the potential that I know they were destined for… I want the VERY VERY best for them.

But I’ve only now realised it’s a hard emotional journey… because when they hurt, you hurt… when they are going through tough times, so do you… you ride the emotional roller coaster… you want to go through the pain with them… but you can’t… you have to sit on the sideline and watch them go through the trials that you pray will help them become better people

And what I have discovered my heart just isn’t big enough to contain the love I have for my closest friends and of course my family and it frustrates me. I can write songs, I can write blogs and I can express the feeling I have for those closest to me… however I just don’t have enough room in my heart to contain it all…

I recently tried to express it in a song and the phrase “How do you stop a tidal wave, crashing through your heart?”  came out- and it’s something I’m really struggling with… how do you do it?

I can’t hold my emotions in… I can’t hold my feelings in… and it means that those closest to me are ALWAYS on my mind.
I loose sleep thinking about them… I loose sleep thinking and strategising how best to help them… I can’t help it…

We’re called to love how God loves he said he will give us a new heart… in fact in Ezekiel 36:26 it says:

“And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart”

What the verse doesn’t say is how much it hurts… how hard it is to journey with people.
I guess that’s why there aren’t many people who are doing it… there are people who are in for the ‘quick fling’… the kind of people who help out while there is something in it for them, however when there is something better that comes along or things get hard (or weird)  they will leave their ‘friends’ in pain and in need of someone close.

I’m in this for the long haul… no matter how much it hurts.

I want to see those closest to me not to just do well… I want to be there to help them EXCEL.

I’ve said this in other blogs… God doesn’t make junk… and so when he made you – he made you with a specific plan in mind (Ephesians 2:10) and I wish I could journey with you ALL to help discover that… but my heart isn’t big enough.

My heart is hardly big enough to contain the few I do hold close to me.

So tell me…
How do you stop a tidal wave from bursting through your heart?