Disciplines of a Godly Man – R. Kent Hughes
My Rating – Must Read
Level – Fairly easy read, moderate length
As the title implies, this is a book about disciplines for men who are trying to live a ‘Godly’ life. After the introduction Hughes goes into the 17 disciplines he has identified as needed for men. He breaks these into four broad categories –
Relationships – which he identifies as the disciplines of purity, marriage, fatherhood, and friendship. He uses the story of David to illustrate the importance of purity. Originally written in 1991 and revised in 2001, there is the noticeable lack of discussion of internet porn. It seems almost funny (naive?) that he would warn about magazines like Playboy, which doesn’t even have nudity anymore. The chapters on marriage and fatherhood are about what you’d expect, though I think he does a good job of warning fathers not to be too harsh in punishment; something often quite lacking in the Christian world. He finishes this section with a chapter on friendship. This was a challenging chapter and a topic I think is often overlooked.
Soul – mind, devotion, prayer, and worship. Mind, encourages us to watch out mental intake. He points out the statistics of the amount of TV people watch on a daily basis as compared to the relatively small amount spent reading. He isn’t opposed to TV, just points out that for the most part, it is there just to kill time, and recommends different things to read instead – Scripture and Christian literature. Devotion, he breaks down into meditation (on the word), confession, and adoration. Prayer and worship are also as you’d expect, worship being specifically about importance of corporate worship.
Character – integrity, tongue, work, and perseverance. Being a man of integrity and clean speech are fairly typical, but the work aspect is unique. I found it especially telling that he would put a chapter on the importance of working in the character section of the book, and after reading the chapter and his arguments, one I fully agree with. The chapter on perseverance was also a new idea to me. His general point is that things aren’t easy, and it takes time to accomplish things, and often it is hard just to keep going. This chapter is a short, but helpful, call to focus on what God has laid out for you and to continue on the path.
Ministry – church, leadership, giving, witness, and ministry. Again, chapters like being involved in church, giving money, and witnessing (evangelism) are typical and as expected. Leadership is another short chapter that bring a different perspective, but something that is important for men especially. We are all called to be leadership in one aspect or another, work, family, the church, etc. He rounds out the section on ministry with a chapter about, well, ministry. By this he means the importance of actually doing something. Be involved, be willing to be uncomfortable, to be challenged, and to fail, if all for the glory of Christ.
Finally, there is a short epilogue with a concluding argument for the importance of Godly discipline and the correct response to grace God has given us. The book is then packed with another 50 pages or so of ‘resources’ including the hilariously dated ‘Bible on Audiocassette’, which, honestly, I’m surprised made it into the updated version (the word is so old that my spell-checker is telling me I have it spelled incorrectly). There are also Bible reading plans (including M’Cheyne, which I recommend), helpful Proverbs regarding speech, hymns, choruses, and praise Psalms. As a reading nerd, the most interesting resource to me was his reading survey. He asks a number of well known evangelicals questions regarding their favorite books. This in itself is probably worth the price of the book, and I should probably make it it’s own post.
Last note on the book, the cover clearly states that there is a complete study guide. This is not what you are probably expecting (unless there was a shipping error and I didn’t receive some sort of stand alone guide), as there isn’t a dedicated ‘study guide’ section. Instead, at the end of each chapter, are some thoughts and discussion questions.
Overall, I really enjoyed this book. Written very well in general, it especially pastoral in practice and effect. The typical disciplines you see (not a negative, they are always written about because they clearly Biblical and obviously important) written about are handled well, but the strength of this books comes from some of the other chapters that tackles things you don’t always see, such as friendship and work.
I’d say this is probably the best book on disciplines I’ve read so far. One major down side is that, obviously, it is mostly geared to men. Some chapters are universal disciplines, but are written about from man’s perspective, and some chapters are specifically for men. That being said, if you have a father, a son, a husband, or really just any man, this book is a must read on the disciplines that God expects of you.