Waiting for Superman…or Any Man Really. (A Review of The Men We Need by Brant Hansen)

A week ago my wife was attacked by a dog. I was in the kitchen cooking dinner when Jeri pulled up and started walking to our front door, suddenly a dog came chasing after her and took a good sized bite out of her leg. I just remember hearing her start to scream for help, and suddenly I was not in front of the stove anymore, I was outside pulling my wife away from an enraged pit-bull. She is ok by the way, she’s healing well and no long term harm done (though I’d imagine getting a dog anytime soon is off the table). Picture this though, what if I had not come outside? What if when I heard and saw her getting attacked I turned on the tv, cracked open a cold one, and put my feet up? I’d imagine a few things would happen.

  1. Jeri could have been hurt even more badly.
  2. There would be lots of blood on our carpet and most of it would be mine

I use this example because obviously I would not be so passive to sit by and watch the woman I love get mauled by a dog. No one would, right? Yet men today are more likely than not to sit back and passively watch obvious needs go by unmet, not stepping into the responsibilities we were created to take on. When we as men refuse to accept these responsibilities we are causing immense damage to those we love.

This is a major topic addressed in Brant Hansens new book The Men We Need

“A passive man becomes useless to those around him. What’s more—and this may seem counterintuitive—a passive man is a threat to the woman in his life. A man’s passivity makes a woman feel less secure, because she will intuit that he may not be up to the job of defending her or their home.” (Hansen 28)

As Hansen says, todays passivity of men is a huge issue. God has gifted men with a specific and crucial role, as Hansen calls it we are meant to be “Keepers of the Garden”. He is a poetic guy and I like how he puts it, but basically it means we as men are meant to be protectors and guards of the people around us. A passive husband leaves his wife feeling unsecure. He will shy away from responsibility and when a need arises he waits for others to solve it instead of taking the on burden himself.

Hansen makes it clear that true masculinity comes from taking responsibility. On the rare occasion I decide to do the dishes for Jeri I am met with overwhelming gratitude. She feels loved that I took on the responsibility. This is the idea that Hansen discusses in his book. I agree with this idea mostly because I have experienced this in my own life. Yesterday for example I put together my new griddle, it had roughly 586,094 parts and took me over 900 hours to complete. Ok fine maybe it only took two hours but it did have that many parts…give or take. Anyway when it was done and I had it seasoned and ready to cook I felt extremely masculine, I mean I only cried for three minutes after burning my thumb. I took responsibility to put together my nice new griddle, made dinner for some friends and my wife. Its fun being a man.

For the rest of the book Hansen deep dwells into six decisions we can make that will set us apart from other men.

  1. Forsake the Fake and Relish the Real
  2. Protect the Vulnerable
  3. Be Ambitious about the Right things
  4. Make Women and Children Feel Safe and Not Threatened
  5. Choose Today Who You Will be Tomorrow
  6. Take Responsibility for your own Spiritual Life

Overall I really liked the direction he took, and how he laid out the biblical view of what it is to be a man and then offered some practical decisions we can make in our life to be the man we need to be.

One of his major ideas of the book is that the world around us has a desperate need for men in it. Hansen uses a metaphorical guy named Jake to make this point.

“Jake is actually harming himself and others, by not being who he was created to be. The world needs Jake. There are real humans outside his window who will suffer because he isn’t who we need him to be. There are real humans outside your window who will suffer because you aren’t who we need you to be.” (Hansen 25)

For Christians this idea is 100% true, we are called to love those around us (John 13:34) which means if we are not taking responsibility in our lives we are not loving anyone. The non-Christian however could push back against this idea that we have some obligation to help the world, by being a contributor.

“I do not owe the world anything, I owe it to myself to be as comfortable and happy as possible”

While this notion may seem like a recipe for a happy life, Hansen does a good job offering counter evidence on why this way of living actually leads to depression and an unfilled life.

While this book has a message that I believe is important for men across the country I think he presents the best case to the Christian man. Jesus was a doer, he worked at a carpenter, was always willing to heal those he met who were in need. He took responsibility for other peoples issues, and we should as well. A Christian with an attitude of “its not my problem” does not live out the “Christ” part of Christian.

Overall, Brant Hansen’s The Men We Need tackles a problem our nation is turning a blind eye to, the lack of men willing to be who they are created to be. He boldly proclaims the biblical view of what it looks like to be a man, you do not need to be super strong, super outdoorsy, or superman. We need a willing heart and can choose to take on the responsibility God has blessed us with. I recommend this book for anyone who is interested in what God says on the topic of masculinity, it is not toxic or hateful to want to be masculine, God has the real inside track to what masculinity looks like, and wants to share it with us. Women this book could be helpful too, you can help your friends and husband be the man he wants to be. I hope men who read this take it heart, take a hard look at themselves and pursue being the man God created you to be, because like Brant Says “Jake, we need you”.

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