Monday, February 20, 2012

Resolution for Men, a Review

The Resolution for Men is not the kind of book that I would normally read.  In fact, I think I've only read one book like it before, John Eldredge's Wild at Heart, and that as a single lad in college.  Now, with nearly five years of marriage under my belt, and almost a year of being a father, books like Resolution seem more appropriate.  Resolution, written by brothers Stephen & Alex Kendrick, is an accompanying resource book for last year's Courageous, a quasi-companion to Fireproof.

Point blank, I've seen neither of these movies, though from what I hear, they're "wonderful."  Personally, I just don't see the appeal.  I get that Christian movies are clean and wholesome and powerful and filled with a message, but generally the acting and budgets are not comparable to a Hollywood powerhouse.  Now I'm not knocking these movies, and I'm glad that they exist.  No, what I have problems with is the fact that the movie is labeled as a "Christian" movie, relegating it into a genre that's typically laughed at and ignored.  Anyone who's read this blog very long knows that I dislike labels and genres, whether it's for film or books or music or whatever.  If you want to reach a larger audience then remove the genre classification.  Until then, we'll remain a splintered people, separated by race, religion, and many other things.

With that said, Resolution is a non-fictional book about what it means to be a Man.  To be a good husband.  To be a good dad.  Or, from the Introduction,
This book is an unapologetic call for men to live courageously for their faith and their families.  It is designed to strategically challenge you to become the man God created you to be. (page1)
Continuing my confession, I would very likely never have read Resolution on my own.  It's just not my norm.  As it so happened, my Wednesday morning D-group (which we affectionately call "Coffee Talk") decided to read this book together.  What's more, we decided that after we finished that we would pledge the "Resolution" the book provides, affirming our intentions publicly and in the presence of others.  This Resolution is the focus of the book, as it precedes and concludes the text.  Each of the fifteen chapters point to the twelve points made in the "Resolution", and all build upon one another as expected.

To make things even more difficult, I literally started reading the book a day or two before my dad died.  Because of the book's content, my mind had been thinking about him a lot at the time.  Thinking about how he was never there for us and how little he was involved in my life.  The book speaks of being a chain-breaker in your family, and I had a clear goal in mind for my life of how not to be.  Reading the book was cementing the way to that goal.  Then he died, and all the difficult parts about fatherhood were suddenly clearer and made more of an impact.

I came into Resolution with no real expectations, what I found was a book containing a lot of great information about being a Man of God.  I like to read with ink pens and highlighters at my disposal, and this book shows it.  Many of the pages are scribbled with notes or underlines, things I found particularly insightful or applicable.  Consider (and I apologize for the quote-dump here),
*All sin in us reveals that God is not as holy to us as He should be. (p89)
*[And] the more maturity a man has, the more responsibility God can trust him with. (p62)
*If you want to get to the core of who people really are, get them to start talking about their dad. (p14)
*God's Word commands husbands and fathers to lovingly lead their homes. As men, we are to walk in honor and integrity and fully embrace our responsibilities as shepherds over our families. We are called to model a loving, Christlike example for our wives and children... Therefore--because this is God's calling--it's no mystery that a godless culture would mock and constantly undermine fatherhood, attacking and inverting what God designs and values. (p13)
*Strong relationships and marriages don't happen because people never hurt each other. They happen because the people involved keep on forgiving. (p172)
*Being a Christian once meant faithfully and boldly representing Christ, even when it came at great risk, even when it meant being unpopular. But too many men today have redefined being Christlike to mean "nice and quiet." (p137)
This is just a smattering of things I marked.  For you see, Resolution offered much more than I was expecting.  Not only did the authors give theory behind things they recommended, but they went beyond that by offering practical things to do.  I appreciate reading a book with suggestions for how to apply to my life.  Too often, it seems, that these books only offer us reasons why we need to do things a certain way but not how to go about it.  

I've already mentioned the "Resolution" at the front and back of the book, but it's worth mentioning again.  I think the desire of the authors is to get men to recommit themselves to seeking a lifestyle that's reflective of biblical manhood.  The Resolution is a solemn compact that should not be entered into half-hearted.  I imagine that there are some who have qualms about making that type of commitment and instead just gloss over that part of the book, but as for me, it's something I'm going to do.  The Resolution is composed of great points that not only will make us better men, but will draw us closer to God.

Stephen & Alex Kendrick's Resolution for Men is not a perfect book.  There are plenty of instances that I completely disagreed with, where I felt that they were being too legalistic or too dogmatic, but these were uncommon.  At times I also felt like they were repetitive in their message, but this could be that they just wanted to make sure that their message was heard.  Even so, these brothers are to be applauded for the book they've produced.  It's poignant and much needed in modern day America.  If you're wondering what it takes to be a better husband, a better father, and a better Man in general, then let me suggest checking out  The Resolution for Men.

[Note: Just in case you're curious, there's also a Resolution for Women out there.  I can't attest to its content, but if it's like this one, then I do recommend it, too.]

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