When was the last time you saw a sign that said “Men Needed?” Probably never but we certainly should. In his new book “The Masculine Mandate: God’s Calling to Men”, Richard Phillips says this is exactly what we need – Men. Phillips contends that we don’t merely need the kind of men that like to hike, camp or hunt but the kind of men that God has called men to be – godly, manly men. Phillips believes that both the secular and Christian cultures have watered down and miss-communicated God’s idea of a man. Through both exegesis and application Phillips explains both the Masculine Mandate and how it applies to the life of a man.
In the first section Phillips starts in Genesis 2 and identifies four essential aspects of a man. First, who man is – he is created by God from the dust of the ground and in His image. Second, where man is – God placed man in the garden. Third, what man is – as mandated by God, man is a lord over creation and God’s servant. Fourth, how man obeys God – man obeys God by working and keeping the garden. It is the fourth aspect of man, obedience through work, which Phillips concentrates on during the first section of the book. With Genesis 2:15 as the foundation Phillips says, “We are to devote ourselves to working/building and keeping/protecting everything placed into our charge (pg., 12).” The two concepts of working and keeping are the basis around which God gives man his calling and purpose. Similarly foundational to these concepts is the fact that man was created in the image of God (Gen. 1:26-17). From this Phillips states the purpose of man,
Revealing the glory of God to a sin-darkened world so that He will be praised and that lost sinners will be saved by coming to know the Lord. The great purpose of our lives is to reveal the glory and grace of God both by what we do and who we are (pg., 34).
In the second part Phillips explores how the Masculine Mandate is applied to a man’s life. First, there is his marriage as an institution created by God. While discussing the purpose for God’s creation of and Eve for Adam, Phillips rightly points out that God did not create her as a “companion” or “mate” but rather a “helper”:
God said Adam needed a “helper” because it places the primary emphasis on the shared mandate to work and keep God’s creation under the man’s leadership (pg., 58).
As a helper women are equal as persons and yet God created them with complimentary differences to help in the fulfillment of God’s mandate. Phillips emphasizes that men need to pursue women and not just a career. Second, there is his marriage as cured by sin. Phillips aptly notes that when Eve presented the fruit to Adam to eat “he thought he must choose between the woman and God, between the gift (the woman) and the Giver (pg., 68).” The curse has put a strain on marriage but has not diminished its inherent created goodness. Phillips explains that the curse has affected the marriage relationship by God drawing the man “unwholesomely away from the woman, even as God’s curse on the woman draws her unwholesomely toward the man (pg., 73).” Third, there is his ministry in his marriage. Drawn from Ephesians 5:26, Phillips challenges men to have a “nurturing ministry of love toward his wife (pg., 83).”
Moving from a man’s marriage to his children, Phillips applies the Masculine Mandate to men as nurturers of their hearts towards Christ and keepers of their hearts from sin (pg., 94). A father is to both discipline and disciple his children. Phillips expands these two principles and gives many insightful points of application.
Phillips moves from the family to a man’s friendships. He draws from the Biblical friendship of David and Jonathan from I Samuel. To be a manly friend one must be willing to initiate friendship, ask how he can help the other and seek to encourage other men in the faith. Not only is a man to be a friend but he is to be a church-men. Once again applying the creational mandate to “work” Phillips contends that men are to be about the work of the ministry of the church (pg., 131). He is to be a proclaimer and protector of the truth.
Finally, the Masculine Mandate is summed up in his service to the Lord in all areas of his life. While he may retire from his job, he is never to retire in his service to the Lord (pg., 144). He is to be a disciple and disciple-maker as long as he can until the day he dies. He is to see his calling as a gift from God and is to serve the Lord with joy and humility. A man “works” for the Lord so that he can hear Jesus say to him, “Well done, good and faithful servant. Enter into the joy of your Master (Matt. 25:21).”
I strongly recommend this book to all married and to-be married men! It should be read both personally and would give its greatest benefit if it were used as a small group study for men. Read it! Apply it! Share it!