Living Life in the Zone: A 40 Day Spiritual Game Plan for Men
Kyle Rote Jr and Joe Pettigrew
Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2009 (329 pp–$14.99)
Former soccer legend, Kyle Rote Jr, and “America’s Leadership Doctor,” Joe Pettigrew, have teamed up to map out a 40-day experience–supposedly themed after the Experiencing God 40-day journey. The days are broken down into 6 groupings:
1. A broad vision for biblical manhood
4. Male friendship
6. Future planning
Why 40 days? The authors answer: “Throughout the Bible, God uses forty days as a significant period of time in which to accomplish His purposes” (xix). They then cite several biblical examples to make their case: the flood, Moses on Mt. Sinai, Wilderness Wanderings, Elijah on Mt. Horeb, Jesus’ fast and subsequent temptation.
Each day follows the same format (which is helpful; you know what you’re going to get each day–a help for early morning devotions until the morning fog dissipates). The devotion begins with the purpose of the day (called the “Thought of the Day”). This is followed by “The Coach’s Corner,” which gives a 1-2 page overview of why the issue for the day is important to your life as a man. “The Game Plan” gives biblical passages that illuminate the issue (the verses are quoted at length rather than merely cited). The “Playmakers” section gives an example from sports to make the day’s point. The “Time Out” asks three practical questions that help pinpoint how the issue applies to the man’s life. “Today’s Assignment” gives an action point that the reader is supposed to accomplish for the day–i.e. “Ask your wife, or your children’s mother, what she is most concerned about in regard to the current needs for protection for the family. Consider calling and talking with your children today and making sure that each one knows how much you love them” (116).
I found the practical bent to the book immensely helpful. From a man’s perspective, religion can seem very ephemeral and not practical. This book helps put flesh on the various characteristics to being a godly man. One of the pressing problems in the church today is getting men involved. With the feminization of our culture and the attacks on what it means to be a man–the majority of men do not want to dress in pastels and skinny jeans. This book is a good attempt to bridge that gap.
It is the kind of book that you would want to give to a man who wants to be faithful in his Christian devotion but does not know where to begin. It is written with the peripheral attender of church in mind–not something you want to give someone who is already leading in the church. HOWEVER, it could prove to be an invaluable resource for these men to lead a men’s group. Six weeks of meeting with men and working through the devotions together and hitting high points could help to bring men into the fold. With the audience in mind, this book would need to be given with the assumption he will be reading it with other men. Reason being that most men on the periphery will not finish a 40-day game plan. They need accountability and peer example to want to continue.
The bridge could have better been constructed with a shorter volume–329 pages is imposing on someone who prefers SportsCenter and highlight reels. If the book is meant for a man to read on his own, I would recommend shortening the book to 20 days. This is more easily managed and attainable.
Further, the sports examples make the book appetizing to the spiritual couch potato. Men like Staubach, Hershiser, Bird, Belichick, and Wooden all translate the purpose for the day. I would recommend putting these examples at the beginning of each day to give a big vision of what is to be accomplished–the “Coach’s Corner” could be done away with (thus shortening the book).
While this book is commendable, I think what is needed is a robust understanding of how the Bible fits together. This devotion is a great starting place for getting men involved in spiritual matters. But entertainment cannot be the fiber of healthy Christian diet. As a follow-up to this devotion there needs to be a laying out of the biblical narrative so that men can get a better understanding of the Bible. I believe part of the anemia found in the church lies in the perceived ineptitude of many men when it comes to what the Bible teaches.
I recommend this book for men who love sports and do not read their Bibles. But please have them read it in a small group; followed by a biblically rich devotion or book.