Kent Hughes is a pastor and a prolific writer. He has been writing books for decades, and he continues to contribute to a popular commentary series. In the introduction to the book Hughes identifies two reasons for the purpose of the book; he writes, “in todays world and church the, disciplined lives are the exception not the rule… men are so much less spiritually inclined and spiritually disciplined than women.” (P.15) Throughout the book it is clear that Hughes maintains his opinion regarding men as he continues to challenge men to step up. It is clear that there exists a lack of discipline in the lives of Christians in general. I would like to know how many people developed discipline as a result of reading this book.
Hughes begins the book by explaining what discipline is and then he breaks the book into five categories, Relationships, Soul, Character, Ministry and Discipline. In the section on relationships Hughes breaks it down even further to Purity, Marriage, Fatherhood and Friendship. In the discussion of purity he gives sad statistics of men’s failure in this area. He explains how media has desensitized Christians to immoral sin. Our society is very sexual and sensual and the world encourages this immorality through television, movies, internet, and social networking. Hugh made a comment that was quite notable, he writes, “satan does not fill us with the hatred of God, but, with forgetfulness of God.” Leland Ryken made the last comment in his book, The Liberated Imagination: Thinking Christianly About the Arts. We often forget about God and His presence within us. This truth should motivate us to be more mindful of how we allow our minds to wander, what we look at, what we say and our attitude.
In Hughes discussion of marriage, he reminds us that we are to love and sacrifice just as Christ does/did. It was interesting that Hughes pointed out that the longer we live with our spouse we will learn that she is like us, a sinner. (P. 37) As a husband, I often forget that in some cases my wife acts as she does because she is a sinner, but more importantly, so am I. In the chapter on fatherhood I was challenged by the comment, “we can either grace our children, or damn them with unrequited wounds which never seem to heal.” (P. 47) I was pleased to see that Hughes wrote a chapter on friendship. He writes, “listen well, and you will be pronounced a “brilliant” conversationalist! What’s more, people will discover they are important to you, which is the key to any friendship.” (P. 65) I appreciate the way Hughes organized the book, by discussing the importance of right relationship. He helps us to see the significance that we play in each others life. We can help each other to be more disciplined, more sanctified, and godly.
In the section designated as “Soul” Hughes divides his thoughts into four points, Mind, Devotion, Prayer, and Worship. In this division Hughes writes about our relationship to God. Regarding the mind Hughes writes, “God calls us in His Word to a massive and positive discipline of the mind. This can only happen through a profound exposure to and continual immersion in God’s Word, accompanied by the illumination of the Holy Spirit – an exposure that within the reach of all literate and semiliterate Christians.” (P. 77) The only way for Christians to bring every thought into captivity is by maintaining constant communication with God. Meditating on God’s Word not only allows Christians to be convicted of sin and receive instruction from the Holy Spirit, but there will also be a greater appreciation for God and a greater awareness of the awesomeness of God. Hughes reminds readers that “continual prayer is God’s will for every Christian. no exception… we must always be looking up.” (P. 98) There is no task too great or day too busy that should prevent our constant communication with God. Recognizing the importance of maintaining a continual conversation with God will also motivate Christians to keep the proper attitude toward others and circumstances. Hughes reminds men that when we worship “we should come with great expectation — for we will experience just what we expect… we need to fill ourselves with God’s truths our worship will be electrified with proper reality!” (P. 114) Great advice reminding us that when we approach worship we must do so with the proper attitude which can only occur after proper meditation.
The section on Character has been divided into four chapters, Integrity, Tongue, Work, and Perseverance. This section covers the way that we relate to the world around us. Unlike our close relationships discussed in the first few chapters these important disciplines affect our testimony and affect how we relate to others who are not close friends and family. As we work to improve these disciplines our character can influence others and as a result we may have opportunity to promote the gospel of Christ.
The last section of Ministry is divided into five parts, Church, Leadership, Giving, Witness, and Ministry. This section discusses the role that we play in the body of Christ. Belonging to the body of Christ requires the discipline to engage in all that the Lord provides for us through His church. The last chapter Grace of Discipline concludes with a challenge to thoughtfully respond to what has been read.
Hughes organized his book very well. I always appreciate it when an author divides his thoughts into points and sub-points with titles. This method helps readers to identify and find specific topics quickly. The book includes many great resources such as book lists, reading plans, and a lengthy bibliography with notes. The book provided some fresh insights and several reminders concerning biblical principles and truth. Hughes fulfilled his purpose in writing the book; he gave me plenty of things to think about.
Hughes, R. Kent. Disciplines of a Godly Man. Wheaton: Crossway Books, 1991