Seven Men by Metaxas:
Introduction Study Guide
Focus for the Week
Why is courage necessary if leaders are to bring about change?
It may seem as though we have the wrong order if we begin with “action” questions each week. But it is intentional. Our prayer is that these discussions will ignite action. So, in the weeks to come we will start our discussions by asking if anyone acted or executed their plans based on how we are challenging one another.
Where execution and action is concerned, we hope to sharpen one another with questions on three levels:
- How did we take action in “everyday” ways during the last week based on the challenges of our discussion? If we are sharpening one another (Proverbs 27:17), then we should see results. We are looking for specific answers. So don’t say, “I tried to be more patient.” Rather, share something like, “I served our family by cleaning a bathroom,” “I bought my wife flowers,” or “I asked forgiveness for being unnecessarily critical of my wife’s decision making.”
- Did anyone specifically set aside time to pray about how he should act?
- How did we act to execute long term plans? Who actually took action on a long term plan to be a catalyst for culture change? Someone might answer by saying, “I scheduled a meeting for November 3 to go to the next level with a ministry project.”
In the introduction to Seven Men, Metaxas describes two road ditches or false ideas about what defines true manhood. What are the two false ideas? The following paragraph may help you review.
The first false idea about manhood is the idea of being macho— of being a big shot and using strength to be domineering and to bully those who are weaker. Obviously this is not God’s idea of what a real man is. It’s someone who has not grown up emotionally, who might be a man on the outside, but who on the inside is simply an insecure and selfish boy. The second false choice is to be emasculated— to essentially turn away from your masculinity and to pretend that there is no real difference between men and women. Your strength as a man has no purpose, so being strong isn’t even a good thing. God’s idea of manhood is something else entirely. It has nothing to do with the two false ideas of either being macho or being emasculated. (p. xix). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.
How did Metaxas argue that the first false idea (macho) brought about the second (to be emasculated)? Have you ever observed this dynamic of going from the extreme of machoism to the other road ditch of emasculated leadership?
How does Metaxas define heart?
So what is “heart”? It’s courage, but courage to do what? The courage to do the right thing when all else tells you not to do it. The courage to rise above your surroundings and circumstances. The courage to be God’s idea of a real man and to give of yourself for others when it costs you to do so and when everything tells you to look out for yourself first.
Based on your own understanding of Scripture and experience, do you think this is a good definition of heart?
Read Matthew 25:14-30.
How is courage fundamental to “talent multiplication”?
What are the consequences to not having the courage to lead forward?
How might you show courage before you go to bed this evening?
Will you pray about coming back next week with a specific project or initiative in mind that you can advance?
For Further Reflection
Consider watching Charlie Rose’s interview of Jim Collins below. What can we learn from Jim Collins about the value of asking questions? How might that fit with our discussions in the weeks to come?
In the weeks to come, we will challenge one another to take chances. What do we learn from the Collins interview about risk taking?
Chris Brauns (@chrisbrauns) is the pastor of the Red Brick Church in Stillman Valley, IL. He is the author of Unpacking Forgiveness: Biblical Answers for Complex Questions and Deep Wounds, and Bound Together: How We are Tied to Others in Good and Bad Choices. He blogs at A Brick in the Valley.
Tim Johnson is a Regional Vice President for the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and Leader of Pinnacle Forum for Central Illinois