The third book in Dr. Mark Laaser’s Men of Valor series Becoming a Man of Valor is different from the first two in his series. He wants us to think about our core and what drives us. He suggests that this book be used meditatively by asking three key questions:
#1 – Do you want to get well?
#2 – What are you thirsty for?
#3 – Are you willing to die to yourself?
Each question comes from New Testament encounters Jesus had with individuals. Jesus took these people deeper. His focus wasn’t on their “perceived” needs, but on their core needs.
The three questions are pivotal to the author’s own counseling practice. “I can’t really work with addicts successfully until they grapple with and answer well the three simple questions in this book.” (12)
Preceding each key question, the author shares the bible passage attached to it, and offers commentary on each of the verses.
Listen to Jeff Fisher’s Interview with Dr. Laaser
Part 4: Becoming a Man of Valor (15:34)
Question #1: Do You Want to Get Well?
The story of Jesus healing the man at the pool of Bethesda from John 5:1-9 brings us this question. The man had been hanging around the healing pool for 38 years. Jesus goes for the man’s motivation.
The author wants us to think about our own sicknesses, hang-ups, and addictions. “What is your sickness?” the author asks the reader. Are we double-minded? Are we willing to do what it takes to get well?
“There are many men who come to see me for counseling, and they want to get well…It’s truly amazing how zealous they can be…A part of the problem is that when these men first come in, they are usually motivated by external factors…The external fears wear off, however, and now they are left with their internal motivation.” (31)
External motivation only lasts for a season. Lasting change comes when we are deeply motivated on the inside. We have to find the courage from God to ask for help.
Question #2: What Are You Thirsty For?
The author spends three chapters discussing this question, using the story of Jesus meeting the immoral Samaritan woman at the well found in John 4:1-26. Jesus addresses the woman’s “heart need” when he moves the conversation from being physically thirsty to spiritually thirsty.
“The fundamental truth Jesus is teaching is that in the human heart there is a thirst for something that only he can satisfy.” (44)
This is the deepest section of the book. The author says we are constantly trying to medicate our soul’s thirst with coping substances (sex, coffee, drugs, nicotine) and coping behaviors (adventure, relationships, watching TV, daydreaming). Even with large amounts of these substances or behaviors, our hearts are still left thirsty.
To give greater understanding to our real needs, the author borrows from his other book Seven Desires of Every Heart to help us understand what our hearts really need. He walks us through several helpful exercises to discover our true needs.
I felt like I was in a private session with Dr. Laaser when I was reading these chapters. I believe this section alone is worth the small price of the book (and probably 5 counseling sessions).
Question #3: Are You Willing to Die to Yourself?
The story of Mary and Martha in John 11:1-43 helps us consider the third question. Lazarus, their brother, died. The sisters were out of options and had given up hope. They believed in Jesus’ healing power, but they felt it was too late for Lazarus to be saved. If Jesus had only been there earlier things would be different.
The author counsels the reader, saying there are parts of us like pride, arrogance, anger, shame and anxiety that we have to let go of to see God work.
“Answering yes to this question means that you are willing to give up your unhealthy attempts to quench your thirst and discover what really matters.” (99)
This is the only chapter of Becoming a Man of Valor where I thought the Scripture used was a stretch. I expected the author to use one of several Scriptures relating to the cost of discipleship, like the story of the Rich Young Ruler (Luke 18:18-23).
My biggest takeaway, as I pondered this question, was the importance of surrender. I do not always know what’s best for me or my situation. I jump to conclusions, I overestimate my abilities, and I can easily give up hope when life blows up. It’s important that I surrender my control over to God and let him be my Resurrection and Life.
Time to Reread This Book
When I read this book again, I will go slowly through it, and take time with these questions. I think I’ll end up spending time on Question 2, “What are you thirsty for?” It’s hard to know exactly what I need to “die to,” surrender and heal from if I don’t know what I’m thirsty for, and the unhealthy ways I’m trying to satisfy my thirst.
A Word of Thanks
I was amazed when he closed his Taking Every Thought Captive book with this statement:
“An author reaches a point, I think, in which he feels that he has said everything he wants to say on a certain topic. I have the satisfying feeling that I have done so in this book.” (119)
As I read these books in succession, I felt like Dr. Laaser was at my side as a cheerleader, a counselor, and a friend. He was trying to write out the best help he has gathered to help me on my journey as a man and as a recovering sexual struggler.
Thanks, Dr. Laaser for pouring your experience soul into these three books.