We review Barrett Johnson’s The Young Man’s Guide to Awesomeness.
We recently had the opportunity to review a very valuable resource for parents and teens alike and we want to share it with you! In The Young Man’s Guide to Awesomeness, our friend Barrett Johnson speaks into the hearts of teenage guys on the topics of sex, relationships and leading a meaningful life. Often in the church or in our homes we’re afraid to meet teens where they struggle because of the awkwardness and vulnerability involved. We’re thankful for men like Barrett who step up to talk about what the Bible has to say about sex and finding God’s design for your life—and to “tee up” parents and teens to discuss these topics together. One of Barrett’s key points is that the choices young men make now matter later. In our ministry to married couples, we see this time and again. Many men have laid a weak foundation for their marriages because of the choices they made when they were younger. God is faithful to forgive and restore, but we save ourselves a lot of struggling, conflict and sometimes heartache by keeping God at the center as young people. This book is all about working to lay the foundation for meaningful, spiritual marriage relationships and significant lives even when it’s counter-cultural. The teenage years may be when guys are hit the hardest with temptation, which means it’s a critical time to hear this message of God’s purpose and plan for their lives. Barrett delivers that message honestly and very relevantly.
Also, take a minute to read this excellent post written by Barrett about helping young men navigate temptation and sin to live a life of eternal significance. You can find the original post here.
10 Unpopular Truths Parents Must Teach Their Sons
My boys are quickly becoming men. Sadly, I have to confess that I haven’t always known how to help them to grow up. The culture they are living in certainly hasn’t helped.
I desperately want to help my sons to live differently than what the world defines as "normal". I want to set a high bar for them regarding character and purity. I want them to treat women with respect. I want them to learn how to be Godly men, not just, as Mark Driscoll calls them, “boys who can shave.”
This means that I have to talk to them about a few unpopular truths. The following list of 10 things has served as the outline for my new book, “The Young Man’s Guide to Awesomeness: How to Guard Your Heart, Get the Girl, and Save the World.” It has been designed to help teenage guys like yours to start thinking about what matters in their lives. It is also the perfect way to “tee up” these important (but sometimes awkward) conversations in your home.
Here are some of the unpopular truths that your son needs to know:
- The choices he makes now have the power to set the course of his life.
He can’t afford to make the “I’m just a teenager” excuse. He needs to know that his life has already started and that the trajectory of his life is being set right now.
- Porn is just as addictive as any drug.
Most every man wants to look, but the internet has provided your son’s generation with unlimited accessibility. That’s why, according the Chap Clark of the Fuller Youth Institute, 60% of our teenage guys are now addicted.
- Masturbation is a habit that has the power to undermine his future marriage.
Our guys need to know that sex is best when it is given, not when it is taken. Young men who have a habit of masturbation are training their bodies and brains to be selfish. And selfishness gets in the way of just about everything in marriage.
- He probably doesn’t need a girlfriend just yet.
Most teen romantic relationships are characterized by selfishness and sexual temptation. If the relationship is not going to help him to be more of what God wants him to be, then he’s probably not ready.
- Sexual activity should be saved for marriage.
He knows the big reasons why his sexuality is precious and worth guarding. (Hint: it has nothing to do with pregnancy or STDs.)
- Practicing the long-lost art of chivalrous manhood will set him apart.
Most guys in our world are consumers of girls. He needs to learn how to be a young man who guards, protects, and honors the women in his life.
- God’s plan for his life might involve doing some difficult things.
Instead of filling his days with video game adventures and entertainment, he needs to discover the calling that God has for his life. It might be hard, but it will be good.
- Walking with God is the most important thing for him to learn.
Through his life, he will hear plenty of voices telling him what is important. Only One voice truly matters. That’s why it’s so important for him know God personally.
- He’s going to screw up sometimes, and that's okay. It's what he does next that matters most.
Too many of our young men believe that when they blow it, God is mad at them. They distance themselves further from Him. Your son desperately needs to know that God offers forgiveness and a fresh start. Every time.
- Life is short and he can’t afford to waste his time.
He may not have it all figured out yet (who of us does?) but your son can start getting his life moving in the right direction now.
It's Time to Start Teaching Your Son These Things
If one or more of these truths resonates with you, you’re not alone. In our work with families, we often hear the frustration of parents who want to train their teenagers to not just blend in with their peers. They want to call their young men to a higher standard. We talk to dads who want to have these “talks” but who feel ill-equipped to do so. They don’t know where to begin.
These very themes (and many more like them) make up the bulk of “The Young Man’s Guide to Awesomeness.” We created a book that guys would want to read and that would open up some meaningful conversations between parents and their kids.
The “guide” covers three main themes: how to guard your heart (sexual purity), get the girl (principles for relating to the opposite sex), and save the world (keys to building a life of significance).
The book has an easy-to-read format, lots of art, and 25 QR codes that connect to videos that will enhance your son’s reading experience. There are also great discussion questions as the end of every chapter so that parents can engage in the process.
Guys from about age 13-23 will benefit from reading the book. It deals rather openly with issues like porn and self-gratification, so if you don’t think your son is ready for that, then you might want to wait. (But in our experience, most parents push these issues back way too far, thinking their sons aren’t dealing with them yet. They probably are.)
If you are looking for a way to introduce these “unpopular truths” to your son, then we invite you to put “The Young Man’s Guide to Awesomeness” into his hands and see what happens.