In his book, The Spiritual Mentor (2013), Jim Grassi lays out a model for disciple building, specifically as it applies to men, though many of the lessons he shares could be applied in ways to women. At the outset, he addresses the downfall of masculinity within the church and within the world and issues a clarion call for men to step up and be men. Having established the existing problems with modern masculinity, he moves on to provide suggestions for how the church might step up and raise up a new generation of leaders.
First, Grassi is an effective communicator of important biblical truth. I agree wholeheartedly with his assessment that the lack of male presence within the church is concerning. We further see this with the continued redefinition of masculinity in the world. The call he issues is much needed and cannot be heard often enough.
Second, the book is laid out well and Grassi is an effective communicator. He speaks plainly and provides a number of practical examples to bolster the points he is trying to make. He gave a nod to several people whom he has learned from, one of whom was Charles Swindoll and the influence is evident.
Third, the ideas he shares are grounded in biblical truth. He ensures that the ideas are not just his own, but are grounded in the Bible.
On the whole, this was a good book, but there were a couple of concerns. The first, which is relatively minor, is that that the book is subtitled “A Romans 12 Disciple,” but I saw very little mention of Romans 12 until halfway through the book. In fact, I made a note on page 109 reading, “finally Romans 12.” It is possible that he gave a nod to Romans 12 earlier, but it certainly did not seem to be a prominent theme as I anticipated from the cover.
Second, like so many of the books on discipleship, there is a tendency to focus on following the imperatives—in other words, what we must do. He appears to view the Beatitudes as a to-do list, but it is so much more. In some ways, Christ shared the Beatitudes to convincingly establish our inability to live out all that he would call us to. For example, Matthew 5:48 says that we must be perfect as our Father in heaven is perfect. Viewing that as a command will lead to a lot of hopeless disciples. We must get the indicatives—who we are as believers in Christ—before the imperatives.
Finally, it the fishing metaphors seemed overwrought to me. Grassi was a professional bass fisherman and so these metaphors are unsurprising and no doubt provide a framework for thinking through discipleship, but I did not find it helpful. On the other hand, I have several friends who would very much appreciate his presentation.
On the whole, The Spiritual Mentor will be a useful, practical book for men. I can already think of several men to whom I will recommend it. I pray that more men like Grassi will step up and heed the call to “go and make disciples.”
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