When it comes to books on godly masculinity the list is long, but the content does not seem to change. The typical message can be reduced to; men need to lead better therefore, men lead better. How does a man lead his home, how does a man disciple his family, how does a man balance the priorities of life? In his book, The Way Forward, Joe Barnard develops a road map for spiritual growth for today’s man.
Barnard presents this map in a way that is authentic and thorough, but without being belittling. Men who are aware that they need to step it up already know they are failing but they do not always have the ability to pinpoint why they are failing. Barnard graciously walks through a fairly exhaustive list of the factors involved. As a pastor, I found myself time and again saying, “I have been there!”
Among the many nuggets of gold in this book, perhaps the most poignant for me was the chapter entitled “Band Together with Likeminded Men.” Barnard says, “One of the greatest risks a man can take is to attempt the Christian life on his own.” This statement caries even great weight considering he specifically addresses the fact that men are alone. Men have a tendency to let our pride get in the way of our honesty. We cannot come straight out and say, “I’m struggling,” because that would call to question our ability to be a man… at least in the eyes of society.
What Barnard is advocating is that men surround themselves with “a spiritual band of brothers.” The value of spiritual friendship is something most men do not understand because they have not been taught that it is needed, and yet it is vital to any man’s spiritual health. In my opinion, this is the greatest asset to this book, advocating for authentic and masculine spiritual friendship.
I am greatly looking forward to using this book as regular discipleship tool in my church, as we develop our own fire teams! I believe Joe Barnard has written something that will serve the men of the church for generations, and I am grateful to have read it. You can purchase the book here.