wild-at-heart1Today whilst on the train, I finished Wild at Heart: Discovering the Secret of a Man’s Soul by John Eldredge.  If I’m honest I found it at best a disappointing read, at other times it concerned me.  This is a book that I’ve heard a number of wise, older men whom I deeply respect recommend, and yet having read it, I don’t really understand why.

The gist of the book is to challenge men to be men – to be passionate, to be raw, to be strong and wild.  But for me it doesn’t quite make sense, I don’t want to be a warrior, a fighter.  I’m determined in what I do, but I’m not into being James Bond or some other superhero that is into being wild, aggressive and taking risks.

At one point he tells a story about his son (p. 78):

A few years ago now my middle son, Blaine, made the big transition to first grade. That’s a huge step for any child – leaving the comfort and safety of Mom’s side, spending all day at school, being among the “big kids.” But Blaine’s a very outgoing and winsome boy, a born leader, and we knew he’d handle it swimmingly. Every night at the dinner table he regaled us with tales of the day’s adventures. It was fun to recall with him the joys of those early school days – a shiny new lunchbox, brand-new yellow No. 2 pencils, a box of Crayolas with a built-in sharpener, a new desk, and new friends. We heard all about his new teacher, gym class, what they played at recess, how he was emerging as a leader in all the games. But then one night he was silent. “What’s wrong, Tiger?” I asked. He wouldn’t say, wouldn’t even look up. “What happened?” He didn’t want to talk about it. Finally the story came out – a bully. Some first grade poser had pushed him down on the playground in front of all his friends. Tears were streaming down his cheeks as he told us the story.

“Blaine, look at me.” He raised his tearful eyes slowly, reluctantly. There was a shame written all over his face. “I want you to listen very closely to what I am about to say. The next time that bully pushes you down, here is what I want you to do – are you listening, Blaine?” He nodded, his big wet eyes fixed on mine. “I want you to get up … and I want you to him him … as hard as you possibly can.” A look of embarrassed delight came over Blaine’s face. Then he smiled.

I don’t get that kind of advice.  I spend a lot of my time challenging and encouraging young people to do the opposite.  Maybe I’ve got it all wrong, but I’m not desperate to be the kind of man John Eldredge spent 220 pages writing about.

There seemed to be a distinct lack of biblical scholarship to back up his viewpoints, and he seems to ready to seemingly dismiss key disciplines such as ‘quiet times’, he prefers God to speak to people in other ways (through films, songs, etc.).  And whilst I don’t deny that God can and does (and does in my case) speak to people outside of study of the bible, I am frustrated that the books doesn’t seem to encourage the regular biblical disciplines which so many young men (myself included) struggle with.

I’m glad that this book seems to have had a great impact on many male Christians from the evangelical world, but for me it had no such effect.

Married to the amazing Sarah and raising Jakey, Daniel, Amelia, Josh & Jonah in our blended family. Passionate for Jesus, social work & sport.

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