Written by: Nick Bloodworth, LMFT
Over the past several years, it seems that there have been fewer and fewer men willing to lead their families and follow God. The absence of these men has done more harm than good. These absences are for a variety of reasons. However voluntary or not, it forces young men to be initiated into manhood too quickly without taking the proper steps. John Eldredge explains in his book “Fathered by God” the importance of having “Good” men to lead us into the initiation of manhood. I am briefly going to explain the work of Eldredge and why it is important for young men to go through this process with a good leader.
Eldredge talks about the initiation process into manhood, not as a fraternity initiation, but rather a lifelong journey from boy to man; or as outlined in the book, from beloved son to sage. Eldredge outlines 5 phases on the ladder to true manhood. There is not a specific age range for each step and in fact, for most, they overlap each other. Here are the 5 phases:
Beloved Son- the first phase is about knowing, understanding and believing that we are loved. Eldredge relates this to the Biblical sense that as young boys we must come to acknowledge that we are the beloved son, just as Christ was and is to the Father.
Cowboy- This is the second phase in which boys begin to learn and explore. This is a stage in which a healthy male figure should be guiding them along the way. This is referenced to the Biblical sense in which Jesus was at work with Joseph in the wood shop, learning not only a trade but about life.
Warrior- the third phase is centered around men standing up for themselves, their loved ones and what they believe in. This is referenced to the Biblical version of Christ’s encounter with the tempter during his 40 days in the desert and his battles with demoniacs, and angry mobs. In this stage, a man becomes a warrior when he no longer runs from the fight but rather confronts it.
King- the fourth phase is focused on after fighting like a warrior. Under authority and guidance of a king, each man must be crowned king of his own kingdom. Understanding that a good king fights alongside his warriors, not for himself, and shares his wisdom and knowledge with his cowboys and beloved sons in important. Jesus became king when He was enthroned in heaven at the right hand of the Father.
Sage- this is the final stage that looks towards the end of life. These are those men who choose not to just take vacations and lounge around, but rather share their years of experience and warriors and kings with those men who come after them. Those are the sages. Eldredge points out that true sages are hard to find. Sages can be discovered in books as others share their wisdom. Jesus, after becoming king, sends the Holy Spirit to be our counselor and our sage. The Spirit inspires us and shares the Wisdom of God
In my own experiences, I can relate to the broken manhood that is becoming more and more the reality of our society. I have used this book and continue to use this book to help me heal from these wounds.