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The Men We Need: God's Purpose for the Manly Man, the Avid Indoorsman, or Any Man Willing to Show Up Paperback – March 29, 2022
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Into our cultural confusion, Brant Hansen paints a refreshingly specific, compelling picture of what men are made to be: "Keepers of the Garden." Protectors and defenders. He calls for men of all interests and backgrounds (including "avid indoorsmen" like himself) to be ambitious about the right things and to see themselves as defenders of the vulnerable, with whatever resources they have.
Using short chapters loaded with must-have wisdom and Brant's signature humor, The Men We Need explains the essence of masculinity in a fresh, thoughtful, and entertaining way that will inspire any man who dares to read it.
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From the Publisher
Jared C. Wilson, assistant professor of pastoral ministry and author of Love Me Anyway
"Brant Hansen has done it again--this time with a funny, punchy book on manhood. Full of hard-on wisdom and simple biblical truths applied across the spectrum of the masculine experience, The Men We Need is the book we need for our confused cultural moment."
Holley Gerth, Wall Street Journal bestselling author of The Powerful Purpose of Introverts
"This is not only the book every man needs, it's also one every woman should read. In a time when everyone is asking, 'What does it really mean to be a man?' Brant Hansen gives a compelling, insightful, and deeply helpful response."
Kyle Idleman, bestselling author of Not a Fan and One at a Time
"Brant Hansen manages to be both hilariously funny and deadly serious. The Men We Need is a blast to read, but Brant is decidedly earnest for men to be exactly what God has created us to be and what the world is waiting to see."
From the Back Cover
The world needs real men. But here's the problem: While we know what men are not supposed to be, it's not clear to us what masculinity looks like when men are at their absolute best.
Into our cultural confusion, Brant Hansen paints a refreshingly specific, compelling picture of what men are designed to be: keepers of the garden. Combining depth and humor, he calls for men of all interests and backgrounds (including avid indoorsmen like himself) to be ambitious about the right things and to see themselves as protectors and defenders of the vulnerable, with whatever resources they have at their disposal.
The Men We Need is witty, challenging, bracingly honest, and perfect for any man who wants to know "Why am I here?"--and is ready to show up.
"Brant Hansen has done it again--this time with a funny, punchy book on manhood. Full of hard-won wisdom and simple, biblical truths applied across the spectrum of the masculine experience, The Men We Need is the book we need for our confused cultural moment."--Jared C. Wilson, assistant professor of pastoral ministry and author in residence at Midwestern Seminary; author of Love Me Anyway
"This is not only the book every man needs, it's also one every woman should read. In a time when everyone is asking, 'What does it really mean to be a man?' Brant Hansen gives a compelling, insightful, and deeply helpful response. I read this book in one sitting."--Holley Gerth, Wall Street Journal bestselling author of The Powerful Purpose of Introverts
About the Author
- Publisher : Baker Books (March 29, 2022)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 256 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0801094526
- ISBN-13 : 978-0801094521
- Item Weight : 11.3 ounces
- Dimensions : 5.5 x 0.64 x 8.5 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #4,096 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
About the author
Reviewed in the United States on November 16, 2022
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Joe is 53, married, and has three teenagers at home. Joe is a manager for a typical global company, where downsizing talk circulates. At a department meeting, the director of HR told Joe and a hundred others that the company will no longer hire anyone with gray hair. Most of the people in the room have gray hair, including Joe.
Joe’s day consists of one meeting after another, then bursts of activity to catch up, shifting focus and multitasking constantly. At day’s end, his head is on fire, and he must spend down time in the car to refocus on where he is driving, which is home, an hour commute one-way now after his previous company merged and he was let go.
Joe’s wife Jane battles lupus. Her small business runs out of their house, but the illness makes it inconsistent income. Joe arrives home to hear Jane’s computer isn’t working right, so he’ll need to spend the evening fixing it. His wife says their youngest daughter came home from school and announced she was trans. The grass needs cutting. Taxes need to be done. Joe needs to go over college selection options with his son, a senior in high school. The middle daughter has two soccer games over the weekend. Joe ends the day exhausted, and the thought of more of the same eats at him. He feels like he’s on a treadmill going faster and faster, one he can’t get off.
At church, the pastor’s weekly sermon chides Joe for not dating his wife enough, not spending quality time with his kids enough, not praying enough, not reading the Bible enough, not volunteering at the church enough. Joe leaves with the feeling that despite trying really hard, he is failing to be a godly man.
Fixing the siding on his house, Joe falls and injures his back. His foot now drags due to nerve damage, and his leg feels weak and sometimes gives out. The doctor says the condition is likely permanent.
Joe goes back to work, and the pretty gal at the end of cubicles gives him some flowers and says she’s been thinking about him. Joe watches her walk away and feels guilty that he thought about her a little too long.
One day, the dreaded downsizing comes to Joe’s department. Joe notices it’s all the folks with gray hair, himself included. He is escorted out of the building after quickly packing his things. He slowly walks to his car, gets in, and cries.
Joe decides to call his one friend, Steve. Steve would love to get together someday and talk. Someday, when Steve has more time.
Joe finds getting a new job is even harder this time. With bills piling up, he takes a temporary job delivering pizza, but he is depleting his savings and the bills keep coming. On a delivery, his leg gave out while walking up some steps, Joe stumbled and dropped the pizzas, and the customer was furious because his order was ruined. Joe’s manager, young enough to be his son, berates him for it.
The next day, Joe takes himself off the treadmill.
At the funeral, everyone wonders how this happened.
Do more. Be more. Be better. Perform. That is the story of Joe.
In the past couple years, I’ve had three widows enter my circle of acquaintances whose middle-aged husbands took themselves off the treadmill. Christian people. Churchgoers. The sadness and confusion are so hard to witness.
Suicide is up 43% among men over the age of 50. By some calculations, they now comprise 70% of all people who take their own life.
Joe is fictional, but nothing about his story is. All the incidents are based on realities real men face.
Now, regarding Brant Hansen’s book _The Men We Need_…
Everything that Hansen shares in his new book is true, factual, good, and needful. But it’s simply not helpful. It’s 250 pages of do more, be more, be better, perform, with nothing more.
The recommendation is for guys to read this with their wives. I did. We sat on the couch in the evenings and I read it to her. My wife’s comment: “This is nothing but (Old Testament) law. There’s no grace, no Gospel in it.”
“Law” is just another way of saying “do more, be more, be better, perform.”
I have curtailed much of my reading of contemporary evangelical Christian books that address social issues because most of them are not thinking deeply about the genuine cause of a lot of society’s difficult issues. The tendency is to blame individuals for their lack of ability to keep swimming while drowning in a sea of social dysfunction. Individuals are told they must do more, be more, be better, perform.
But blaming individuals for their failures is easy. What’s far harder is to tackle the complex systems that grind up people in their gears, guys like Joe. Systems like ageism in the workplace. The kind of thing the Church in the late 19th and early 20th centuries was always game for. But today, somehow, we have lost our gumption for that fight.
Now we just tell individuals to ignore the systems that threaten to drown them and just swim harder.
Time and again, _The Men We Need_ keeps playing into the systems by offering no help for men who are doing everything they can already and are still not meeting the mark established for them.
I was once accosted by a German tourist at the Grand Canyon. I got on a shuttle bus back to the parking lot, and it filled with Germans. One man decided to walk up to me, because I looked out of place I suppose, and state, “You Americans work too hard. We Germans get at least six weeks off for vacation, and you get maybe two. You Americans know how to work, but we Germans know how to live.”
Weird? Yes. But he had a point.
Men, are you living? Or just performing?
From the day most American men are born, they have a performance mentality drilled into their skulls. They are told that their entire value rests on their ability to do more, be more, be better, perform. If they don’t, then they are good for nothing.
Early in his book, Hansen comments that the reason men who retire feel restless is because God built into people a need to be doing.
But what he doesn’t consider as well is whether those same men are restless because they’ve been told their entire lives that unless they are doing and performing they have no value.
This is a systemic—and one could argue, demonic—message, and it is one American Evangelicalism is sadly resistant to addressing. Even worse, it often ends up abetting it.
And it’s sad that American Evangelical leaders can’t offer any better message to men than the same stuff men can get out of reading Jordan Peterson’s _12 Rules for Life_. All that stuff sounds like great advice to young, listless men, but young, listless men who adopt a performance mentality have a tendency to get older and become like Joe.
The lack of serious thought about the systemic corruption that fuels many of the problems Hansen tries to address (self-centeredness, porn use, lack of ambition, and so on) instead get reduced to individual failures that have no connection to greater societal issues.
An example of this is the lack of ambition among young men.
When a study was done as to why the children of engineers and scientists avoided engineering and science careers for “easier” ones, the reason was not lack of ambition. Instead, these young people had seen their parents who were engineers and scientists get laid off, downsized, and generally treated badly by employers, and those young people did not want to endure the same garbage their parents had gone through, if there was another way.
This is not a lack of ambition. This is disgust with a system of gears that ground up their parents. If the experience here is one of injustice and the people they see as role models mistreated, how can we assign blame if the child would rather take on a job they see as inflicting less pain and heartache—the kind they actually experienced in their own household as a youngster?
Failure to account for the deeper underlying causes makes much of our surface evaluation flawed. Which means our solutions will not be helpful. You can get all the details right and still miss the point. Just like this book.
What do men need? Especially the Christian men Hansen targets?
They need a Church that is willing to tackle the kinds of systemic problems that are killing men, no matter the cost. They need grace for when they fail as individuals. They need a Gospel where God is recognized as being the “author and finisher” of their journey of faith, and that it’s not on them to be trying to make themselves better all the time. They need to stop being told to do more and start being told that they are likely already doing enough. They need to be quiet before God and to perhaps do less so that God can heal all the damage that has already been done to them by the systems they endure. They need to hear Jesus say, “I’ve got you. And I’ve got this.” Whatever “this” might be.
Millstones are great when you need to grind grain for bread. But they make lousy necklaces. And the numbers of men who have spent their whole lives carrying one, two, or even three millstones around their necks needs to start going down or else the number of them who decide to remove themselves permanently is only going to rise.
We need to be removing millstone necklaces, not making them. And we need a better book than this one.
Brant is not adding more to men’s To Do list with his Six Decisions; he’s putting into words the choices everyone is making every day whether we know it or not. If we’ve learned anything in the past few years, it’s that so much is out of our control – but each and every one of us gets to decide how we respond – how we play our part in our own lives. The Men We Need is so clarifying, for parents raising boys, for young women weighing what matters in a future spouse, and for men of every age, because we each get to decide what matters in the one life we’ve been given. The best part is that he writes with a wry wit and humor akin to Dave Barry, so the book doesn’t feel like a lecture or (dare I say it?) a sermon. Yes, his perspective is Christian and he’s drawing on Biblical history and wisdom, but no matter your spiritual background, what Brant Hansen says is just good sense and well worth your time to consider. In quick easy to read bite-size chapters Brant Hanson breaks down the six decisions that could literally (and I’m only using a tiny bit of hyperbole here) change the course of your entire life.
The six decisions:
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, Not Threatened
5. Choose Today Who You Will Become Tomorrow
6. Take Responsibility for your own spiritual life
A few of my favorite snippets:
“taking responsibility is the very essence of masculinity”
“It’s remarkable how good we are at shifting an argument or even fashioning a whole new worldview in order to dodge blame. We’re sophisticated at it.”
“The world… needs men who resist distortion, who engage reality at all times, and who are fully real themselves.”
“If your “love” for a woman dies when she fails to give you good feelings, you didn’t love her; you loved you.”
“Who you are reverberates through your home and neighborhood and the world”
Read this book. Buy a copy for your son, your daughter, your friend, anyone who needs a positive vision for their life. (which is pretty much everyone right now) Read it together. Pass it on. Seriously, it’s that good.
By Michael on November 16, 2022
Top reviews from other countries
Once again, Brant has wrote another hard hitting, thought provoking book. I highly recommend this for everyone!