Colt McCoy and Matt Carter. The Real Win: A Man’s Quest for Authentic Success. Colorado Springs: Multnomah, 2013. 224pp. $19.99.
by Grant Gaines
Regretfully, many men in church pews are passionless observers of Christianity. They’re content to maintain life goals that are no different than those of unbelieving men around them—make some money, enjoy my family, and have a little fun before I die. If this describes some of the men in your church, then The Real Win will be a helpful resource for your ministry. McCoy and Carter’s book can challenge your men, reorient their minds, and put them well on their way to passionately pursuing Jesus in every area of their lives.
What is the “Real Win”?
The main message of this book is that the “real win” in life only comes when a man has learned to trust and serve God in every area of his life. This concept may seem basic, but it is exactly what men in the church need to hear. McCoy and Carter indicate that many men have their “ladder up against the wrong wall” (4). They’re pursuing success the way the world defines it, when what they need to see is that “losing in the eyes of the world just might be success in the eyes of God” (12). The authors spend the remainder of the book explaining how men can seek biblical success (i.e., faithfulness) in four primary areas: at home, at work, in our character, and with regard to the way we will face the future. Rather than give a summary of the contents of the book, I will point out four emphases that I considered particularly helpful.
The first major emphasis was that the authors consistently get to the heart of the problem of the false definitions of success that many men are assuming in their everyday lives. They recognize that for men to change and start defining success as faithfulness to God they can’t just pull themselves up by their moral bootstraps and try harder. Mere behavioral modification won’t work because deviant behavior in men is just the symptom of a much deeper problem—idols of the heart. In this way, McCoy and Carter are applying biblical counseling principles to the specific struggles men face. The real change and the real win comes when a man begins to “delight himself in the Lord” (Psalm 37:4) instead of in the idols of power, control, comfort, and approval (89). “Regardless of what the biggest idols in your life are if you desire the real win, that means grabbing a shovel and going to work on your heart. You’ve got to dig past the surface layers and expose the problems underneath. When those problems are laid bare, you can confess them to the Lord, allow His Spirit to begin to work on your life in new and real ways, and go forward with true success” (89). Amen. Only this kind of heart transformation can lead to long lasting patterns of faithfulness in Christian men.
Another important emphasis in the book is finding gospel-centered ways of dealing with our sins and failures. “We all fall short of the glory of God,” the authors write. “That’s where grace enters in. There has been only one perfect man who has ever lived, and His name is Jesus Christ…Trusting in Him is the only hope we have” (53). Every man has failed in his responsibilities at home, at work, in the church, and in other areas of life—every man, that is, except Jesus Christ. It’s because of Christ’s active righteousness in our place, coupled with his substitutionary death for our sins, that failures like us can be forgiven. Men need to know this and they need to be reminded of it often. And this book does just that. McCoy and Carter remind us that “when you fail morally (and you will), and you then repent, God has mercy and grace for you” (133).
Complementarian Male Leadership
Another strength of this book is that the authors are unapologetic in their complementarian views of male leadership. “The Bible clearly says that man has been created by God to lead in the marriage, the family, and the church” (44). They also point out that this view of leadership places a great burden of responsibility upon the shoulders of men. If marriage, family, and the church are failing, the burden of responsibility rests with men. Men need to recognize the leadership sins in their lives—like acting macho, materialism, anger, dominance and control, laziness, immaturity, and emotional and spiritual absence (47–52). These sins keep them from exercising biblical leadership in the home.
Boundaries in the Workplace
McCoy and Carter also include a very practical (and rarely discussed) section on setting boundaries with women in the workplace. These include, for example, never being alone with a female colleague, keeping all conversations with female coworkers work related and surface level, not complimenting her on the way she looks, only expressing your friendship with a female coworker when your wife is around, and never being friends with a woman who your wife is not friends with also (113). These boundaries might seem rigid to some, but in light of the rampant unfaithfulness of men (even in the church) perhaps a little rigidity is in order. As I’ve heard one pastor say, “If you’re never alone with a woman other than your wife, then you’ll never commit adultery.”
The Real Win is a good gift to the church of the Lord Jesus Christ. It is gospel-centered, challenging, and practical in its approach. It also has the added benefit of being very accessible to lay people. For these reasons I recommend it highly for discipling men. I know I’ll use it this way in our church.
Grant Gaines (Ph.D., The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary) is senior pastor of Calvary Baptist Church in Jackson, TN and is an adjunct professor of systematic theology at SBTS and of biblical studies at Union University. You can follow him on Twitter.
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