I read this book when it first appeared in 1995. Just the title fascinated me. Tender . . . Warrior? Surely a contradiction in terms? Adding great credibility to all that he says, there’s some author background in the opening chapter, revealing his service in Vietnam as Group Intelligence Operations Officer. These are not the theoretical idealistic notions of someone removed from real life. Here’s a writer who knows a thing or two about battle, the close proximity of the enemy, brotherhood and sacrifice.

Weber explores issues of confusion associated with masculinity. Am I supposed to be tough or tender? Strong or sensitive? Fierce or friendly? He calls men to respond to the wake up calls which show up in our lives through the situations we face or the people we love most, and get our lives back on track.

Weber references Flint McCullugh, the scout on the TV series Wagon Train, whose eyes are always scanning the horizon, ever vigilant towards the dangers and hazards which may lie ahead. The author explores the re-tracing of steps, inviting the reader to look behind themselves as it were, to return to the headwaters of existence, to find our true calling. Weber identifies four non-linear life rhythms: King, Warrior, Mentor, and Friend. He defines these as four unshakable pillars. He acknowledges them as fundamental in both sacred and secular writings, and in all cultures.

King: The heart of the King is a provisionary heart. The King looks ahead, watches over, and provides order, mercy, justice and leadership.

Warrior: The heart of the Warrior is a protective heart. The Warrior shields, defends, stands between, and guards.

Mentor: The heart of the Mentor is a teaching heart. The Mentor knows things. He wants others to know them too. He models, explains and trains.

Friend: The heart of the Friend is a loving heart. It is a care-giving heart. Passionate, yes. But more. Compassionate. A friend is a commitment-maker and a promise-keeper. He is the energy that connects people.

Weber suggests that these four pillars bear the weight of authentic masculinity. They co-exist. They overlap. And when they come together you will know it. You will feel it. You will be touched by it.

I thoroughly enjoyed re-reading this book and as is my wont these days, I underlined many passages, signifying important statements or a connection with my own heart. I loved the chapters on friendship. Talking of Old Testament characters David and Jonathan he says: “Here were two men whose minds believed the same truth, whose wills locked on to the same course, whose emotions burned at the same injustices. They were committed to the same God. They loved the same kingdom. They marched to the same tune. They were headed in the same direction.” And: “A shared dream bonds men together. It’s the very essence of meaningful male friendship.”

It’s a very balanced book and well worth a read.

Now updated and expanded, Stu Weber ’s 20-year bestseller has become the contemporary classic.  It paints a dramatic and compelling picture of balanced masculinity according to God’s vision. Find out more here

Publisher: Random House ISBN Print: 978-1590526132

Main Photo Credit: Nik Shuliahin via Unsplash

Bob Fraser

Bob Fraser is a singer-songwriter, men’s group leader and Regional Director for CVM aiming to open up conversations about life and faith.

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