What are the major issues facing Christian men and how should they be addressed from a biblical point of view? How should a Christian man avoid the pitfalls of life; lead a more balanced life; have a deeper walk with God; be an attentive husband; becoming a difference-making dad; overcome lust?
Bible Gateway interviewed Patrick Morley (@patrickmorley) about his book, The Christian Man: A Conversation About the 10 Issues Men Say Matter Most (Zondervan, 2019).
You’ve been working with men for decades. Why is it so difficult to be a man in today’s world (as opposed to decades ago)?
Patrick Morley: It’s true. These really are turbulent times to be a man. Most of the Christian men I talk to find it increasingly difficult to juggle all their responsibilities as men, husbands, fathers, friends, workers, churchmen, and citizens. As my friend Nick put it, “It feels almost impossible to live out a biblical model of manhood.” So why is that?
Colossians 2:8 says, “See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ.” There are so many voices phishing to get inside our heads. It feels like we’re being “hacked.” Spiritual hacked. We all feel it, don’t we?
No man succeeds by accident. He needs a plan. My motivation to write this book was to offer that plan. But a man also needs someone to guide him along—someone to mentor and disciple him how to integrate his faith and life with intentionality. So, I hope some of the more experienced Christian men reading this interview will be inspired to take a man under their wing and show him the ropes.
You used a creative way to identity the 10 issues men say matter most.
Patrick Morley: To make sure The Christian Man scratches where men itch, I gathered 24 younger Christian men on a Saturday morning to storyboard the question, “What are the issues and topics that would make you feel compelled to pick up and read a book for men?” These men come from all walks of life and represent the racial and ethnic diversity of America.
When the dust settled, we had a list of 10 issues that stood out as the most important to them. That list formed the table of contents for this book. Those 10 issues are: identity, life balance, spiritual growth, marriage, fathering, friendships, work, lust, culture, and sharing their faith.
What is the number-one issue Christian men say they’re facing and why?
Patrick Morley: The 24 men I assembled voted spiritual growth as their number one issue. They all expressed a deeply felt hunger to know more about God. They believe the gospel—they know God. But they want—and need—to take the next step. What’s that step?
When Jesus gave us his last or nearly last words, he uttered the single most impactful speech ever recorded in the history of the world. More millions of people and billions of dollars have been mobilized by this short speech than any other, and there isn’t a close second:
“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:18–20).
We call this well-known text the Great Commission. It’s “great” because becoming a disciple is the “normal” way God has ordained to release the power of his gospel on the problems and opportunities men face.
The goal of spiritual growth, then, is to become a disciple. To become a disciple is the highest honor to which a man can aspire. In the book, I help men answer the question, “What is a disciple, and how do I become one?” I show them how “the spiritual disciplines” are the portal to spiritual growth.
When it comes to spiritual growth and maturity, I would condense all the years I’ve spent teaching the Bible into this one idea: A Bible, a small group, and serving someone else will solve 90% of your problems. For that reason, the chapter on spiritual growth does a deep dive on how a man can make the most of his Bible, a small group, and serving others.
What is your challenge to Christian men regarding the Bible?
Patrick Morley: When a group of religious leaders tried to trick Jesus with their questioning, he responded, “You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God” (Matthew 22:29). Most of us have heard someone say, “I knew about God, but I didn’t know God.” Perhaps a greater problem today is that people do know God, but they don’t know about him.
I’ve never personally known a man whose life has changed in any significant way apart from the regular study of God’s Word. The single best way to know God is to personally read his bestselling book—the Bible. We get in trouble when we use our personal experience to interpret our Bibles, instead of using our Bibles to interpret our personal experience. My challenge to men is don’t just read your Bible—let your Bible read you.
Why (and how) should a Christian man cultivate friendships?
Patrick Morley: Male friendship was a hot topic with the storyboard group for this book. Steve captured the spirit of the men with his questions, “How do I develop meaningful friendships with other men when we are all very busy? And without taking time away from family? How do I find men who are genuinely open to friendship? The men I know don’t seem interested.”
When Jesus came to the tomb of his friend, Lazarus, he was deeply moved. After he had the stone that sealed the tomb taken away, Jesus prayed. And after he prayed, “Jesus called in a loud voice, ‘Lazarus, come out!’ The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face. Jesus said to them, “Take off the grave clothes and let him go” (John 11:43–44).
Jesus brought Lazarus back to life, but when Lazarus came out of the tomb, he was still bound in grave clothes. Instead of removing them himself—which he could have easily done, Jesus told the other friends of Lazarus, “You help him take off the grave clothes and finish setting him free.”
The Lazarus story is a real story about a real man. But it’s also a metaphor for a man who’s been beaten down by the world. The juggernaut has rolled over him and crushed his dreams, hopes, and relationships. He’s overwhelmed. Withdrawn. Isolated. Alone. Spiritually dead.
Friends are not God’s backup plan. Friends are God’s plan A. Jesus will resurrect a man from the dead, but then he gives the joy, privilege, and responsibility of fully setting the man free to his friends.
What’s really going to help a man long-term is to find a friend or two, or join a small group, and live life together with a few brothers with whom he can process what comes his way.
What is the role of a Christian man in today’s cultural milieu?
Patrick Morley: We all know the issues: education, school violence, protecting innocent children, the economy, federal deficits, school debt, finding a job that pays well, racism, politics, human trafficking, the environment, poverty, social justice, fatherlessness, divorce, homelessness, gang violence, immigration, social media bullying, internet scams, sex scandals, police shootings, abortions, and disputes over how to define marriage and gender issues—to mention many of the more visible ones.
Jesus doesn’t take us “out” of the world—which is quite interesting because he could easily beam us up the moment we believed. Instead, he “sent” us “into” the world just described to engage these and other cultural issues, following the example of Jesus. Basically, God wants each of us to go find some unredeemed corner of culture and claim or reclaim it for the glory of Christ. This idea goes to the heart of both the cultural mandate and the Great Commission. We’re the stewards of Christ’s gospel in a broken world.
God is looking for men willing to engage and redeem civic affairs, the education system, public service, commerce, manufacturing, service industries, the justice system, education, the military, government, first responders, health care, medicine, the trades, and every other arena for the glory of Jesus Christ. The good news is that men around the world are engaging and influencing culture for the glory of Jesus Christ.
What is the biblical definition of masculinity?
Patrick Morley: This question goes to the heart of a man’s identity and purpose. Of course, the best way to find out who we are and what our lives are all about is Scripture. Psalm 8:3-6 says, “What is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them? You have made them a little lower that the angels and crowned them with glory and honor. You made them rulers over the works of your hands; you put everything under their feet.” That’s who we are and what we do.
But let’s get more specific. The nitty-gritty of masculinity is the “roles” that are precious to us and the “attributes” we want to exhibit. There’s not a cookie cutter, formulaic list, but a man’s roles will often include son of God, disciple, servant, steward, husband, father, friend, worker, or son.
The Christian man’s attributes—who he is or wants to be in character and conduct—are listed for us in Scripture: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control” (Galatians 5:22–23). And because it drips off nearly every page of the Bible, I think it’s appropriate to add humility to any list of desirable identity attributes: “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble” (James 4:6).
What is lust and how do you approach this issue in your book?
Patrick Morley: Sexual attraction is one of the most powerful, primal forces God has created. Every man feels it, undeniably. When used the way God intends, sex is beautiful, even holy.
It’s not exactly news, but we live in a culture that glorifies lust and sexual immorality. It’s ubiquitous. In our sex-saturated culture, it’s almost impossible to watch or read an interesting story that doesn’t have at least soft porn (erotic or suggestive images intended to arouse), such as simulating intercourse under the covers.
Also not news, our sexual desire is one of the most easily corrupted and difficult to tame of all human desires. So in this chapter we clarify what the Bible says about sex and lust by discussing some things that may be new for a man or, at the minimum, clear up some confusion.
The Christian Man is published by HarperCollins Christian Publishing, Inc., the parent company of Bible Gateway.
Bio: Patrick Morley is a business leader, speaker, and the bestselling author of 21 books, including the award-winning The Man in the Mirror, Seven Seasons of the Man in the Mirror, Devotions for Couples, and Devotions for the Man in the Mirror. he lives with his wife in Winter Park, Florida.
Study the Bible with confidence and convenience by becoming a member of Bible Gateway Plus. Try it free right now!