Book Review: Play the Man

Becoming the Man God Created You to Be

There have been many times I have listened to a song, watched a movie, or read a book where the instantaneous and overwhelming thought has been – “this one is a winner”.

In other words, the content has the potential to be life impacting, if applied.

Such is the case for a book I recently read as part of Mark Batterson’s book launch team.

Mark’s latest masterpiece, Play the Man: Becoming the Man God Created You to Be, is more than a book.

It is a call to action!

Mark introduces the book with a history lesson which took place in AD 155.

He recounts the story of Polycarp who was a disciple of the John the apostle. Polycarp faithfully and selflessly led the church at Smyrna through a period of persecution.

John encouraged Polycarp to not be afraid of what he was about to suffer and admonished him to be faithful, even to the point of death (Revelation 2:10).

As Mark writes:

“John had died a half century before, but his voice still echoed in Polycarp’s ears as the Colosseum crowd chanted – “Let loose the lion!”

That’s when Polycarp heard a voice from heaven that was audible above the crowd “Be strong, Polycarp. Play the man.”

Roman bounty hunters had tracked Polycarp down. Instead of fleeing, he fed his captors a meal and they granted him a final request – an hour of prayer.

Afterwards, the Roman proconsul implored Polycarp to recant his belief in Christ – “Revile the Christ and I will release thee.”

Polycarp refused, “Eighty and six years I have served Him. He has done me no wrong! How then can I blaspheme my King who saved me?

Polycarp had confessed himself to be a Christian and was sentenced to be burned at the stake.

He prayed one last prayer, “I bless you because you have thought me worthy of this day and this hour to be numbered among your martyrs in the cup of your Christ.”

Although flames engulfed him they did not consume him. He was then pierced with a spear and bled out. He had lived out John’s exhortation to be faithful, even to the point of death”.

As Batterson summarizes, “Polycarp died fearlessly and faithfully…the way he died forever changed the way those eyewitnesses lived. Polycarp played the man.

I don’t mean to wig you out with blood and gore. This account makes our modern day trials and problems pale in comparison.

When was the last time your life was in danger because of your beliefs?

Mark then introduces the thought as a society we have forgotten how to make men and calls men to play the man.

He outlines seven virtues to help men play the man with chapter titles such as:

  • Tough as Nails
  • A Gentleman and a Scholar
  • Unbroken
  • The Three-Headed Dragon
  • Sockdolager
  • Born for the Storm
  • Call of Duty

Each chapter is introduced by a real life account of someone(s) who embodies the concept or character trait he wants to drive home.

The book concludes with his attempt to make men out of his sons by showing them a Rite of Passage which he conceived for them.

It is a refreshing look at what our society so desperately needs – men who will love others more than themselves, to honor their wives, to guide their children well and to be an example for them.

Time does not permit me to elaborate further.

This book is real. It is honest. It is funny. It is sincere. It is life changing.

More importantly, it is for you.

Looks do not make the man.

Money does not make the man.

Possessions do not make the man.

God makes the man and it is an inside job!

If you have longed to live a life you know can be “more” than what you may currently experience, do yourself a favor and buy the book.

Graduation season is right around the corner and I could think of no better gift to give to a young man than add to his “life account” and to bless him with this book.

We celebrate Mother’s Day this weekend and by no means do I want Mom’s to think they are second fiddle.

However, Father’s Day soon follows.

Why don’t you consider getting the man in your life – whether son, or husband, or father a gift in which both he and you will reap the benefits?

You will not regret doing so.

You can check out the Play the Man website to further explore this gem of a book for yourself. A sample chapter is available for you to check out.

I highly recommend it whether for yourself or another.

In closing, if you are a man reading this I urge you to Play the Man. Others are counting on you!

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • Bruce it sounds like a wonderful book and much needed today. I am blessed to have 2 sons who have grown into real, godly, loving men like their dad and that my daughter has found a hardworking, good young man as well. It seems they are in short supply today.