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4 Stars Out Of 5
Great for Father/Son or small group
June 4, 2012
About this Book: Point blank, this is a punchy, no-holds-barred book for young men. Laying out the challenges to be disciplined, godly and sold-out for Jesus, the authors talk about purity in your thought-life, cultural pressure, and perserverance as a Christian. Let father and son Ken and Carey Hughes help you live a life of integrity and become the man God is calling you to be.
Our Thoughts: I have to be honest and tell you that when Disciplines of a Godly Young Man arrived in the mail, I handed it to my husband and asked him to read it for review so this review is all his thoughts on the book. As parents to a son, we would love nothing less to see him grow up in the Lord, get saved and live sold-out for Jesus in everything he does. This book covers 14 disciplines such as friendship, prayer, work, our speech, witnessing, tithing and more that all Christian men (regardless of age) need to have in their lives. Each chapter contains not only their thoughts/writings but also includes "Food for Thought", a life application that summarizes what you've read in that particular chapter and even a list of additional resources for the discipline you've just learned about. My husband said this book was filled with lots of "sports stories" and since it is written to be geared toward young men and their fathers I guess that is why they chose sports stories. However, if you are not a big sports fan (like my husband who prefers the outdoors to a sports event) you quickly get tired of the sports illustrations. Thankfully he said there were a few non-sports related illustrations but sports seemed to be the theme of illustrations and stories in this book. At 180 pages, this book is very easy to read and written in a manner that young men could easily understand as well.
Disciplines of a Godly Young Man is available through Crossway and not only makes a great father/son study but would make a great small group Bible study as well. It would also be a wonderful homeschool Bible study for middle and high school age young men as well.
Disciplines of a Godly Young Man, by R. Kent Hughes and W. Carey Hughes, discusses, as the title suggests, 14 disciplines that need to be developed in Christians. (Although we are not saved by works, our actions and choices can help us walk more closely with God.) I was immediately drawn into the book when the introduction described the lives of men that we consider geniuses in their respective fields. Leonardo da Vinci is known, among other talents, for his amazing drawings of the human figure. But he drew thousands of hands as training for this skill. Mozart tallied up 3500 hours of piano practice before his sixth birthday! Thomas Edison invented the light bulb after a thousand failures. The authors make the valid point that if we Christians want to achieve Christ-like character and an intimate relationship with God, then we need to put effort into achieving these goals.
The disciplines discussed include: purity, friendship, mind, devotion, prayer, perseverance, church, giving, witness, ministry, and tongue. A chapter including scripture references and real-life examples is devoted to each.
Although the intended audience of this book is young men, I found these disciplines applicable for my life as well. Many chapters were both convicting, motivating, and applicable to my life. I highly recommend this book for young men of high school or college age who desire to become godly men and are motivated to work toward that goal.
Disclaimer: I received a free review copy of this book as a member of the Crossway Review program. All opinions are my own.
What is discipline? For many people, the first answer that comes to mind is punishing a child to correct a wrong. That's part of it, but there's so much more. The basic meaning of "discipline" is training. "Train yourself for godliness; for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come. The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance" (2 Timothy 4:7-9). Based upon this passage, Disciplines of a Godly Young Man encourages young men to develop and nurture twelve different disciplines grouped in four categories in order to be godly. After a couple of introductory chapters, they are Relationships: Purity, Friendship; Soul: Mind, Devotion, Prayer; Character: Tongue, Work, Perseverance; and Ministry: Church, Giving, Witness, Ministry, followed by a concluding chapter on the "Grace of Discipline."
The theme of the book is found on pages 22-23: "Understanding this, we now get down to the reason for this book, which is that in today's world and church, young Christian men who are disciplined are the exception, not the rule. Why? The answer is that the popular, politically correct culture of the new millennium suppresses manliness, and especially the manliness and leadership of young men who attempt to follow Christ. The reasons are several (feminism, entertainment, and legalism), and together they are daunting." Under "Purity," the talk about sex is frank, though certainly not salacious, but it is very true and needed! There are some excellent comments under "Mind" about television and movies, under "Work" about the need for a spiritually disciplined work life, and under "Church" about the importance of church attendance and the benefits of worship. Also, the Hugheses have a great discussion about the difference between discipline and legalism.
I will say that the use of all the sports examples, apparently cited to make the book appealing to young men in our athletic-saturated society, leaves me somewhat cold because I am totally disinterested in sports. However, I suspect that many readers will find them meaningful, and other kinds of illustrations are provided for those who are not into athletics. Depending upon their religious background, there may be a few word usages and theological concepts with which some may disagree. However, these differences are minor to the purpose of the book, and I think that Disciplines of a Godly Young Man would make a great resource for use in a "life curriculum" for a homeschooled teenage boy. R. Kent Hughes, who authored Disciplines of a Godly Man, is "Senior Pastor Emeritus" of College Church in Wheaton, IL, and his son Carey Hughes is "Senior Pastor" of Christ the Redeemer Church in Spokane, WA. Kent's wife Barbara wrote Disciplines of a Godly Woman, and together they produced Disciplines of a Godly Family.
This father/son combo serves as a practical guide designed specifically for young men to aid them in pursuing a life of godliness. The key text throughout the book is 1 Timothy 4:7-8, "But have nothing to do with irreverent and silly myths. Rather, train yourself in godliness, for the training of the body has a limited benefit, but godliness is beneficial in every way, for the present life and also for the life to come."
The book is set up around twelve "disciplines" of the Christian life: purity, friendship, mind, devotion, prayer, tongue, work, perseverance, church, giving, witness, and ministry. It is both an easy read and clearly written. It is not heavily theological and is helpful for the young man who is either brand new in the faith or for a young man who has never been a reader.
1)The Hughes' have delivered on their intent to be practical. There are lots of helpful things they have to say in the area of application. The young man will glean many ideas that will help him jump start his walk with Christ.
2)Each section ends with a series of questions designed to help the reader dig deeper in the area of that particular discipline. This makes this book ideal for a small group study and discussion. In fact, I personally think the book's primary value is in the area of small group ministry.
3)The book is designed to be an "entry level" type book and is very easy to read. It will not intimidate the new believer or the young man who is part of the "non reader" group that the book mentions.
1)There is little explanation of the gospel in this book. It is never clearly stated that godliness is the result of Jesus Christ's substitutionary atonement on the cross. If fact, there are times when the book seems to imply that Jesus' primary work on the earth was to serve as our example to follow in disciplining ourselves.
2)The Hughes warn about the danger of legalism but go on to give a list of over 100 items in their book. They try to explain that this is not legalism, but it comes across as very confusing.
3)The message of the book boils down to "try harder". Throughout the book there is a reference to discipline being like going to the gym and the reader is on numerous occasions are exhorted to employ "spiritual sweat". The cloud of witnesses of Hebrews 12 are even said to be cheering "you can do it!" to believers down here on earth (p. 125). It would have been good to see "you can't do it, but that's ok because Jesus did it for you!" which serves as the true motivation for godliness.
Overall Disciplines of a Godly Young Man is a mixed bag. The Hughes have a lot of good things to say about disciplining your mind and church attendance, for example. However, the book is mostly self effort and not a reliance upon God's grace. Trusting in God's race as you discipline your life is not mentioned until the final three pages, almost as an afterthought. As I already mentioned, this book would make an excellent book to handle in a study group, and I recommend it for that purpose.
Today's culture is fascinated with watching the fruit of other people's discipline while neglecting our own discipline. What do I mean by that? Take sports for example. We love to watch Dwyane Wade throw an alley-hoop to Lebron James. These two guys pour in hours at the gym each day. They are extremely disciplined and yet we can't remember the last time we ran for twenty minutes. This also occurs in our spiritual lives.
Today's Christian Young Men (I don't consider myself too far removed) are fascinated with podcasts. We love sitting and listening to Matt Chandler or John Piper as the fruits of these men's disciplines come alive. And all the awhile we are neglecting our own spiritual discipline. The truth is, most of us don't even know what it looks like to cultivate a godly disciplined life. This no longer has to be true.
Following the popular Disciplines of A Godly Man, Kent and Carey Hughes have teamed up to write Disciplines of A Godly Young Man. The book is written to young men around the ages of 13-18 and has provided them with a tool to cultivate spiritual discipline.
Discipline is a sweaty exercise. It comes from work, hard grueling and testing work. Paul says in 1 Timothy 4:7, "train yourself for godliness". The Hughes start their book discussing the importance of discipline, a Holy Sweat. This introduction provides a great framework for the rest of the book. Many of us are talented in an area of life and thus have natural advantages. Because of this, we expect it to translate to our spiritual life as well. On this, Hughes writes, "None of us can claim a natural spiritual advantage. In reality, we are all equally disadvantaged. None of us naturally seeks after God" (pg. 18). Thus, discipline in the Christian life is extremely important.
After the Introduction, the book is then broken up into five different areas of life. These consist of Relationships, Soul, Character, Ministry, and Grace. Under each of these headings consist further subheadings that dive deeper into the area of life. (for a full list of areas discussed, consult below)
The Hughes are clear and concise. The chapters are fast paced yet pack punch all the while remaining practical. At the close of each chapter there is a "food for thought" and "an application/response" time. The Hughes aren't concerned with just teaching a theologically sound disciplined life. No, they want to see students living a theologically sound disciplined life. It is one thing to know what that life looks like and another thing to live that life. This perhaps was my greatest encouragement concerning the book.
Overall, I believe this book is extremely relevant to today's young men. The Hughes are calling out young men and challenging them to become the man of discipline that God calls them to be. Young Men, be encouraged and challenged by this book.
Introduction - Discipline is Everything, Discipline for Godliness