the shape of leadership

Becoming Men, Raising Men

Mark Batterson’s ‘Play the Man’ shows how to do both.

Maleness is biological. Manhood is an achievement. Just because you’re the former doesn’t mean you’ll become the latter.

In his new book, Play the Man, Mark Batterson aims to help male readers become men. He begins by outlining seven virtues men need. He acknowledges that these virtues aren’t “exclusive to men,” but he nonetheless finds that “men lack them more often than women.”

What are the seven virtues of manhood?

  1. Tough Love: “loving others when they least expect it and least deserve it”
  2. Childlike Wonder: “true knowledge” combined with “profound humility”
  3. Will Power: “making the most of any and every situation your find yourself in”
  4. Raw Passion: “a lust for life that doesn’t settle for status or status quo”
  5. True Grit: “resilience in the face of rejection, fortitude in the face of fear”
  6. Clear Vision: “something to fight for, something to fight against”
  7. Moral Courage: “putting yourself in harm’s way to protect someone else”

Batterson illustrates these virtues with stories drawn from Scripture and history, and he applies them to everyday situations men face.

He then turns to how fathers can help their sons make the transition from boys to men. Based on his own experience, he shares how dads can make a yearlong “Discipleship Covenant” with their boys as the latter transition into adolescence. This covenant includes physical, intellectual and spiritual commitments. The capstone of this discipleship is a “Rite of Passage” that celebrates what the young man has accomplished.

As a man, I appreciated Batterson’s outline of the seven virtues of manhood. But as a dad, it was the second section of the book that captured my attention the most. If you’re like me, wondering how to help your son move from boyhood to manhood, I encourage you to check out what Batterson recommends.

American culture shuttles back and forth between the extremes of toxic masculinity and emasculated manhood. The former celebrates machismo while the latter denies any essential differences between men and women. Becoming the man God created you to be means recognizing the differences without using them to harm others. Play the Man is thus a helpful contribution to better men, better churches and a better culture.


Book Reviewed:
Mark Batterson, Play the Man: Becoming the Man God Created You to Be (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2017).

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