Disciplines of a Godly Man is a spiritual classic, and one of the reasons why that’s the case is that it’s so well written. For me, that tends to be the difference between a “good” book and a “great” book. You’ll see some of this in my favorite quotes below. Hughes’s goal is to walk Christian men through the various areas of character development, with biblical insight, encouragement, and passion. He covers the following areas.
What I Loved
Hughes is a pastor through and through, and that pastoral voice is on every page, and I’m grateful for it. We always need shepherding. But what many readers will value is also his passionate calls to improve in different areas of our lives, for the sake of devotion to Christ. These improvements, of course, are fully attributed to the grace of God in the Spirit, as he works to make us more like Christ. Still, we have a role to play, and Hughes is gifted and pulling our spirits up to a mountaintop to gaze at the beauty of who we’re called to be.
Lots of quotes in this classic stood out to me, but I’ll try to limit myself.
- “If we are to excel, we must strip ourselves to a lean, spiritual nakedness” (p. 20).
- “No manliness, no maturity! No discipline, do discipleship! No sweat, no sainthood!” (p. 21).
- “Legalism is self-centered; discipline is God-centered” (p. 23).
- “Marriage is a call to die, and a man who does not die for his wife does not come close to the love to which he is called. Christian marriage vows are the inception of a lifelong practice of death, of giving over not only all you have, but all you are” (p. 50).
- “Time is the chrysalis of eternity” (p. 72).
- “An open, accepting soul is like a well-lit home on a cold, dark night” (p. 86).
- “A Christian mind demands conscious negation; a Christian mind is impossible without the discipline of refusal” (p. 93).
- “We are to have a perpetual inner dialogue with God. We must always be looking up, even when driving to work or mowing the lawn” (p. 125).
- “The world longs for liberation from dishonesty” (p. 160).
- “The true test of a man’s spirituality is not his ability to speak, as we are apt to think, but rather his ability to bridle his tongue” (p. 177).
- “Those who commit themselves to the church are those who enjoy the unrestricted flow of its graces” (p. 215).
- “Though Jesus could put his finger on every star, he emptied himself and became a poor earthly servant for us. That is heaven’s ‘stewardship’ program, and it is the pattern for us” (p. 246).
- “Cultivate a small heart and life may be smooth sailing, but you will never know the heady wind of the Holy Spirit in your sails and the exhilaration of being used by God” (p. 265).
What I Would Have Liked
I don’t have much to add here. There are times when Hughes’s encouragement to act or change might feel aggressive, but I didn’t have any issues with it. Perhaps there are places where the author could do a bit more to console Christians who are really struggling in a given area. But, again, no book can do everything. If you’re looking for a well-written guide on spiritual formation and discipline for men, look no further.
Should You Read It?
Yes! For me, this is a contemporary classic work of spiritual formation.