Russell and Duenes

From The Ivory Tower – Man on the Run: Helping Hyper-Hobbied Men Recognize the Best Things in Life

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If ever a land beckoned “hyper-hobbied men,” my home state of California sang the siren song to top them all. Where else can one surf waves, hit the ski slopes, and ride some desert sand dunes…all in one day? And those are just the outdoor hobbies. While I may not qualify for the “hyper” category when it comes to hobbies, I often pursue my varied interests with reckless abandon, and thus I know the temptation to put the good ahead of the best. So with great interest I secured a copy of Zeke Pipher’s new book, Man on the Run: Helping Hyper-Hobbied Men Recognize the Best Things in Life.

Zeke is a friend of mine from seminary days, and is certainly qualified to speak to men with godly wisdom on any topic, but the reader quickly finds that he is very helpful in addressing the ways in which hobbies, avocations, and ambitions – even good ones – consume the lives of men and often overtake godly priorities. Not only is Zeke a pastor, but he’s also an avid bow-hunter, fisherman, baseball coach, runner, outdoor writer and photographer, while being a husband and father of three. Throughout, the book he offers practical wisdom and encouraging stories of how men can pursue the passion and interests that God has designed them for, while not losing sight of the things that are of eternal significance while doing so.

I found the book to be very accessible. While Pipher’s hobbies have a bit of a provincial flavor – hunting, fishing, hiking, camping and the like – and not every man may track with his love for the outdoors, yet most men share Zeke’s overall experience of trying to succeed at work, at being a husband and father, and at hobbies all at the same time. Something usually has to give, and we men have a tough time figuring out what it should be, often sacrificing key relationships and commitments in the process. I don’t know any man who wants to come to the end of his life and say, “Wow, I really kicked butt at my hobbies, and so what if I had to short-change my wife and kids in the process?” Yet men need encouragement and wisdom, particularly the kind born of experience, and this book provides that. The stories and anecdotes give glimpses into the lives of men who learned the hard lessons after the harm from their headlong pursuits had already been done, while also illustrating how God works in the lives of men to redeem and purify their passions so that Christ and love for others remain the ultimate prize.

All of this encouragement is given in a way that does not create false dilemmas. The book is not telling men that it’s either hobbies and ruin, or no hobbies and the good life in Christ. Rather, there is winsome appeal here to pursue the things that God has designed men to pursue with reckless abandon, so that our hobbies and interests actually bring the full measure of joy and satisfaction possible. As Pipher points out, too many men get the idea that if God is to really grab our full attention, then the “fun” and “adventurous” masculine activities we love will have to go out the window. Nothing doing.

Rather, we come to see that our hobbies and passions must be pursued within the framework of the central commitments and crucial relationships God has ordained for us, not in opposition to them. It is when men are zealous to love Christ with all their hearts, and to let that love spill over into love for wife, family, church brothers and sisters, and friends that our hobbies are rightly ordered, no longer serving merely to validate our existence, create meaning in our lives, give us a thrill, or take our minds off our own mortality.

This all jibes with my experience, for I cannot imagine gaining the joy I have in my hobbies and pursuits without a commitment to God’s larger purposes and the relationships that support them. Indeed, it is my brothers and sisters in Christ and my relationship with my wife and other friends that have purified and given shape to my hobbies, such that they are redeemed not only for my pleasure, but for the blessing of others as well. It is my role as a husband and father that helps me order my priorities so that I can enjoy my hobbies without guilt or regret.

These are some of the themes that are fleshed out in Man on the Run, and at the risk of injecting what may appear to be boilerplate, I truly believe that the future of our nation, and more importantly, the future of the church within our nation, depends on men giving themselves to the dogged pursuit of what’s best, and not simply tracking down the best adventures. Man on the Run makes a helpful and encouraging contribution toward that end, and as such, I hope it will receive a wide readership.



Written by Michael Duenes

March 4, 2012 at 7:26 pm

Posted in Duenes, Literature

One Response

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  1. Rather, we come to see that our hobbies and passions must be pursued within the framework of the central commitments and crucial relationships God has ordained for us, not in opposition to them.

    This is really interesting and timely for me, D, since I’ve come to much the same conclusion recently, but from a different angle. I currently have more or less the reverse problem: not *enough* leisure and hobby time. I “feel” like I need more hobby time – but I’ve learned that oftentimes more “me time” isn’t really what I need. Usually when I’m feeling this sort of void in my life the true remedy is a resetting of my priorities and spiritual life.

    Samson J.

    March 6, 2012 at 4:43 pm

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