Book Review: Fathered by God

Fathered by GodA few years back my counselor recommended I read Wild at Heart to help me understand how my addiction was fueled by misunderstandings of how God made me as a man.

To say that book changed my view of what Biblical masculinity looks like would be an understatement.

As much as I enjoyed Wild at Heart though, I believe Fathered by God is perhaps even more helpful for men who struggle with living as the man God calls them to be.

Where Wild at Heart teaches us about how God has made us as men, Fathered by God shows us the path He wants to walk us through to bring us into that position of authentic, Biblical masculinity.

In Fathered by God, John Eldredge outlines the six stages of manhood that God walks every man through over the course of their life. There are lessons to be learned—that must be learned—in every stage:

Boyhood

“We must remember that above all else, boyhood is the time of affirmation, the time when a boy comes to learn deeply that he is the beloved son… Without this bedrock of affirmation this core of assurance, a man will move unsteadily through the rest of his life, trying to prove his worth and earn belovedness through performance or achievement, through sex, or in a thousand other ways.”

Cowboy

“A notable shift begins to take place in the boy’s soul as he approaches his teens, a yearning for real adventure. Something inside tells him that he needs to prove himself, needs to be tested. He wants to learn how to do things—how to drive a car, to hunt birds, to build a loft in his room. And now the question of a man’s soul begins to present itself in nearly everything the boy-becoming-a-young-man does: Do I have what it takes?”

Warrior

“The recovery of the warrior is absolutely crucial to the recovery of a man. All else rests on this, for you will have to fight, my brothers, for everything you desire and everything you hold dear in this world. Despite what you feel, or what you may have been told, you have a warrior’s heart, because you bear the image of God. And He will train you to become a great warrior, if you’ll let Him.”

Lover

“Learning to be loved, and learning to love, learning to be romanced, and learning to romance—that is what this stage is all about. Not duty. Not merely discipline. But an awakening of our hearts to the beauty and love of God, and at the same time, we offer our hearts as well—to God, to the women in our lives, to our sons and daughters, to others.”

King

“[A good king] uses all he has to make his kingdom like the kingdom of Heaven for the sake of the people who live under his rule… Most of the men I know in some position of power and influence [kings] are not holy enough to handle even what they do have, and they are doing damage as we speak. They operate out of their business training and “principles of leadership,” they operate out of a great deal of their own brokenness, but they do not, on any sort of regular basis, check in with God, submit to Him, live as a man yielding his plans to Him.”

Sage

“There comes a time when a king must yield his throne. This does not mean failure. It means it’s time to become a sage, and let another man be king… It will appear that at this stage a man’s “kingdom” may be shrinking—he retires from his career position, perhaps moves into a smaller home or apartment, lives on a fixed income. But, his influence should actually increase.”

If a man is wounded in any of these stages (or skips over any of them completely), he will miss the lesson it has for him. He will move forward in life with holes in his masculinity, functioning as an incomplete man.

But God, as our loving Father, wants to bring us back into these overlooked stages to teach us what we missed. He wants to heal those gaps in our development and raise us up as His beloved sons into authentic, Biblical masculinity.

This is the message of Fathered by God—a message that can give any man hope, no matter what stage of life he is in.


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  • Stephen, I wanted to thank you for taking the time to create such a thorough explanation of Fathered by God. Following your recommendation, I have shared the book with clients in recovery and am reading it myself. God is really using it to touch and heal my heart – even changing how I parent as well. Again, I really appreciate you taking the time to do that. As a fellow blogger, I know that we often do not see the fruit of the work we put out there….so I wanted to make sure you knew your efforts are having a ripple effect! Thanks for all you do!

    • Thanks Forest. There’s a great DVD study that accompanies the book. If you’re leading clients though it, it makes for a great group resource.

      • Stephen, thanks for letting me know. I am definitely interested in that!