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Author Morgan Snyder on What Culture Has Wrong about Manhood

Chris Carpenter - Director of Internet Programming

At the age of 29, life was going quite well for Morgan Snyder.  Happily married and the father of two healthy children, he had a full-time job that paid him well.  So much so, that he began to invest financially for retirement.  But something was missing.  Rather than continue to work and live complacently without any sort of productive resolve, he set out to transform the inner workings of his soul.

Over a period of two years, Snyder reached out to roughly 75 men, all older and wiser than him, but elders who he greatly respected.  He proceeded to ask them just about anything he could think of under the sun.  However, his end goal was to determine exactly what it was that would propel his soul to a higher level of strength, courage, and vulnerability.

In his new book, Becoming a King: The Path to Restoring the Heart of a Man, Snyder challenges men to take a much deeper look at the path they are currently pursuing and determine whether they can become ‘kings’, worthy of God’s trust.

I recently social distanced myself from Snyder via the safety of a phone conversation.  In it, we discussed why it’s so hard for men to let go of their current lifestyle for something better, what he was seeking from the wisdom of 75 sages, and the five habitats in which the soul of a man can thrive.

First off, how are you and your family making it through this coronavirus pandemic?

I finally broke out and went to Chipotle for a burrito after about eight weeks. They said, ‘How's it going?’ And I said, the house shrinks by 500 square feet. I'm out of house. No more house. Truth be told, Chris, we are doing really well. We are grieving with a lot of friends. I work with leaders around the world where there's been great loss, financial devastation, and some health devastation. I'm on the front lines with that, but on a personal level, I’ve been given the gift of being able to slow down. The sports of our teenagers to be canceled, the school to go online, it has been a deep gift to us to be in more rhythm together and to be more honest with what comes up, being able to engage conflict right away, and to do simple acts of love for our neighbors together. It's revealed struggles in our relationships that have been really good to deal with.

What the inspiration or motivation for writing Becoming a King?

I'd say that it started really out of ache and longing over 20 years ago. I became a Christian and began walking with God in a radical conversion in college. I could feel the impact of kind of being saved, of trusting God with my life. But what I found was I was still a boy on the inside even though I had become a Christian. What I lacked was maturity. What I lacked was initiation. What I found as I looked around at other older men is they were in men's worlds, but they had boys inside. They became the kind of men that couldn't be entrusted with the care of God's kingdom. And I had that same kind of dashboard warning lights in my own soul.

Dallas Willard says the primary work of God is finding men in whom He can entrust His power. The story of most men is bringing harm to themselves and those under their care. And so, I started looking around out of my longing to be a good man, my longing to be true, to lead well, to love well as a husband, father, a leader in the church and in the business realm. Where's the path? I asked this because my externals don't match with my internals. Externally, it's going great. But internally there's fear, confusion, and a lack of wealth of happiness. So, I started turning to older men. I turned to God and said, what's the path? Where are the pitfalls? How do we find life? What's the most important thing? In that, God said, ‘Over time, I want to speak to you, but I want to do it through older, wiser men.’ Find the oldest men you can find and ask them the questions that surface in your heart. And what I began to recover over time was something new. It's not something new, but something newly recovered. It was an ancient path. It was Jeremiah 6:16, where there were elders at the gate recovering what needs to be recovered in every generation.

From the outside looking in, you seemed to have everything going your way … happily married, two kids, meaningful work, and you were starting to put a little money away.  But something was missing.  So, as you have mentioned, you reached out to 75 “sages”, in other words, older, wiser men who you had a great deal of respect for, asking for their counsel.  What did you ask them?

It's not until a man is shaken that it reveals what can be shaken and what cannot be shaken. It's not until a storm comes that we find the actual quality and the depth and breadth of the root system. It's not until a drought comes to a tree that we see the depth of the taproot and its connection or not to the water table. And so, what we find as a man, we expand our kingdom and we have more kingdom than we have character to manage it. It's not until the storm comes that the shaking comes, that it reveals the truth about who we've truly become.

So, I asked, if you could be 20 again, 30 again, or 40 again, what would you say to your younger version of you? What would you do if you could live it differently? And that counsel was so helpful. It echoed the words of G.K. Chesterton in (his book) Orthodoxy, where he says every generation loses the Gospel, this path to life. And it's every generation that's charged with its recovery. We are made to find, to recover the path, the ancient path, the path of life by turning to those that have recovered it before us. It's always being made available and they started shining their light.

You write about five habitats in which the soul of a man can thrive.  What are they and how is each uniquely beneficial to a man?

That's a good question. And these are deep waters because what I'd say is, as I gathered with these sages, their counsel came in different forms. If it was a friend in a different country it was a letter correspondence. (If it was) a friend locally it might have been sharing over coffee or at a campfire in his backyard. But what I noticed were themes. There were these universal themes that almost all of the stories shared in common. And I began to excavate those themes to say, boy, these are not unique to the man. I'll give you an example. It was fascinating. Out of everyone's counsel, all the counsel of older, wiser guides, the one central theme that was most consistent, it was spoken primarily out of regret and sorrow was, I wish I would have played more. I wish I would have taken a longer vacation. I wish I would've worked less. I wish I would have been more present to the wife of my youth and to my kids when they were young. I wish I wouldn't have taken all of it so seriously. Isn't that fascinating? And what it harkens to is this idea of lifestyle, that there is a habitat for the soul. We were made for habitat. Every part of creation has a habitat in which it thrives.

There's a habitat in which the soul thrives. In the book, what I tried to do is curate and distill the most fundamental truths of the sort of habitat in which you put the soul of a human person. They're able to mature and they're able to grow in health and wellbeing to become the kind of person that can be entrusted with character.

Is Becoming a King a book just for men?  Can women benefit from it in any way?

That is an important question because in my heart of hearts, I wrote this book first and foremost for the benefit of women. And secondly, for the benefit of children. My heart has always been to go after men so that in seeing them restored, they bring life, strength and goodness to the women and the men entrusted to their care. In 22 years of walking with men and rescuing the hearts of men around the globe, side by side with John Eldredge, the stories that move me most, that bring me to tears every time, are when I receive letters from women who say, ‘Thank you for what God did through you guys and giving me my husband back. Everything has changed.’ And so, what I can tell you with my whole heart as I wrote to men, I say I'm speaking specifically to men, so that I can bring dignity to those men, to treat them like men and rescue. I’m speaking particularly to men faced with dilemmas and desires. But yet at the core, I’m writing for women that really love men. It will be very helpful for them to lean in, to understand the heart of the things going on in the world of their boys, the men in their world, and the boys in the heart of the men in their world. There's a lot that can be learned. And then frankly speaking, there's a lot that's universal. There's a lot that we share in common as men and women. But I wanted to have the honor in speaking to men, to have the permission to speak as a man to men, but it's written for all.

After people have read Becoming a King, what would you like your readers to take away from that experience?  What is your greatest hope for the book?

My greatest hope is that a decade from now, in a century from now, when people hear stories about what's going on in the world, the primary theme and the major theme that is reported is the stories of people thriving, families thriving, churches thriving, communities thriving, businesses thriving, governments thriving, and nations thriving, because men chose the long, slow and steady path of excavation over building, of becoming whole hearted, becoming mature, becoming true to themselves and God so they can become the kind of people that can wield power in love and in service on behalf of other people. That's my heart on a global level, to see true inner transformation lead to slow and steady revival on the earth. But on a micro level, I'll let you in on a secret. The entire book is an invitation. At the very end it says, well done and welcome. This is merely the introduction. There's no magic bullet. It's not cheap. It's not quick and it's not easy, but it is a path and a process that leads to life and life as it was intended to be.

To purchase Becoming a King: The Path to Restoring the Heart of a Man:

 

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