WILD AT HEART
(From the book "The Way of the Wild Heart" by John Eldridge)
The study of the development of boys into men,
from the man who also wrote "You Have What It Takes"
Wild At Heart!
1.) The world needs "Statesmen", "servant-leaders", in Govt, business, church, & family.
Men who act on genuine strength, wisdom and kindness. Men who build, not just take. (vs. "Achievers"
and vs. "Yielders".) (Discuss 4 venues, and media influence.)
2.) Men are born to lead, to act, to build. Gen 1:27-28. (Discuss male chemistry, and its application.) "The
call of a man's life will include adventure, passion, beauty and danger, en route to ruling his promised land to
God's glory." "The journey of a man's life is perilous" (discuss both quotes).
3.) Causes of the lack of REAL MEN:
a.) Culture b.) Nature of Education c.) Dads: gone or deficient.
"WILD AT HEART" and "THE WAY OF THE WILD HEART" by John Eldridge
Described six stages of a man's life, each in need of their defining moments.
We "Mark the spot" for historical clarity.
Eg. - Jews placing stones at Jordan.
References to "God of Abraham" (God's promises), "God of Moses" (God's holiness), and "God
of Jacob" (God's provision)
BOYHOOD - "Beloved Son" - 0-12.
COWBOY / Ranger - "Initiation Into Manhood" - 12-24
WARRIOR - "Make it happen." - 20-40
LOVER / ARTIST - "Appreciate beauty" - 20-40
KING - "Rule & Reign" - 40-60
SAGE - "Counsel" - 55-up
The bible catches it's characters at certain stages. The most comprehensive view we have is of David.
The stages will overlap, and some run concurrently. But no stage can be "skipped" without damage to its
We'll study the characteristics, needs, opportunities, hindrances, and goals of each stage. We'll also look at
how to "go back and get" what you missed.
"This my beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased." Matt 3:17
"I will be a father to you, and you will be my sons." 2 Cor. 6:18
5 THINGS A BOY NEEDS TO KNOW -
1.) I am loved, and of value.
2.) I am part of something bigger than myself.
3.) I must obey.
4.) The world is secure& wonderful if I abide in obedience.
5.) Basics of God's character & gospel.
5 THINGS A BOY NEEDS TO DO -
4.) Learn / Grow
5.) Be Physical
5 THINGS A BOY NEEDS TO HAVE -
1.) Family w/ good examples.
2.) Friends / enemies.
3.) Safe environment.
4.) Stimulating environment.
5.) Health & Care.
Additionally, certain things must happen within this framework to enable the other stages.
A PAMPERED or NEGLECTED or ABUSED child is unprepared to move on well.
"You are the son of a kind, strong, engaged Father, a Father wise enough to guide you in the way, generous
enough to provide for your journey, offering to go with you every step."
Matt 7:9-11 - You can rightly expect your Father to hear you, and provide for you.
Rom 8:15 - "Abba Father". We are safe to feel affection for Him, as we are His.
Gal 4:4-7 - We are all children of God through faith in Christ.
Matt 12:46-50 - Our spiritual family out-ranks our earthly family.
2 Tim 1:2, 1 Cor 4:17 - The bestowing of sonship by a non-biological father.
YOU ONCE SAW YOUR DAD AS YOUR "DESTINY" WHICH STATEMENT NOW BEST DESCRIBES YOU?
1.) I want to be like my dad in many important ways.
2.) My dad's an okay guy, but not really what I choose to be as a man.
3.) My dad hasn't made enough of an impression on me to guide me one way or the other.
4.) My dad was evil, or very weak, and I choose to be the opposite in many ways.
"There comes a time in every rightly-constructed boy's life when he had a raging desire to go somewhere and
dig for hidden treasure." - Mark Twain.
DAD - GIVE YOUR BOYS THIS:
1.) Godly Example. 2.) Time. (Listening and acting on THEIR interests.) 3.) Surprises. 4.) Interpretation. 5.)
Wrestling, etc. 6.) Sensible provision. 7.) Discipline 8.) Affirmation "You've got what it takes."
1.) Not believing he's a "beloved son" will leave him unsteady, and he'll seek validation elsewhere.
2.) Living in a "unsafe" world, or a "boring" world, will make him fearful, passive, weak.
3.) He must be "free" to explore and be a boy. Over-protection will cost him his vision and purpose.
4.) Being forced to grow up too soon, due to tragedy or ineffective fathering.
RECOVERY "A father to the fatherless is God." (ps. 68:5)
1.) Understand your "boyhood strengths" and "boyhood needs". Evaluate how & where they
2.) Seek God to "re-raise" you as sons. Be a child before him, and watch for people and events that can
heal old wounds.
3.) Instead of being "on your own", live in God's presence and wonder, asking Him "What do you have
for me today?
"And he grew in wisdom, and stature, and in favor with God and men." Luke 2:
"Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to test you." 1 Pet 4:12
5 THINGS A YOUNG MAN NEEDS TO KNOW - (LEARN)
1.) Life is hard. Action required.
2.) God is real, & active with you.
3.) Things change, principles remain.
4.) HOW to do things. (Instruction in trades and skills.)
5.) I HAVE WHAT IT TAKES!
5 THINGS A YOUNG MAN NEEDS TO DO -
1.) Work hard.
2.) Test Self.
3.) Test God.
4.) Experience REAL Success & failure.
5.) + all boyhood "Do's"
5 THINGS A YOUNG MAN NEEDS TO HAVE -
1.) Work to do.
2.) Adventure, including an EPIC one.
3.) Independence with freedom and responsibility.
4.) Engagement with nature & arts.
5.) Achievement Acknowledged. ("Initiation")
THE QUESTION: DO I HAVE WHAT IT TAKES TO BE A MAN?
The "healthy boy" believes in life's possibilities, but now faces life's HARDNESS, and the reality of
CHANGE. It is an insecure time. Everything is changing: his body, his outlook, his responsibilities. How will he
Lacking confidence, he'll TALK BIG, and overdo some things, while shrinking from others. But his God-given wild
heart will make him INSIST on INDEPENDENCE and a chance to TEST HIMSELF and TEST GOD.
And there are things he'll want to DO NOW: Drive a car, use a power tool, hunt animals, and more.
THE ANSWER: WHERE WILL HE FIND IT?
1.) Hard Work - Survived and done well.
2.) Adventure - Danger faced and conquered. (Eg- In nature, sports, & relationships.)
(Beware of "Fake Adventure" - Cheap thrills, over-commercialized exotic play, vicarious games.)
3.) EPIC STORY - A great moment, or conquest, that "you could make a movie of it!"
4.) Initiation - Acknowledgement by men of his achievement. Acknowledgement by at least one girl of his viability.
TO WHAT EXTENT WAS "THE QUESTION" ANSWERED FOR YOU?
1.) I can point to people and events in my life that show me, by God's grace, I have what it takes.
2.) I've fought my way through okay, and I'm better off than many, so I guess I've got what it takes.
3.) I have drifted through life, avoiding difficulty where I could, and survived to this day.
4.) I feel inadequate as a man. Somewhere, something went very wrong.
PARENTS - GIVE YOUR BOYS THIS:
1.) Understanding. 2.) Space (Respect of autonomy.) 3.) Freedom with Responsibility. 4.) Forgiveness. 5.) Unconditional
Love. 6.) Consistent testimony & Principles. 7.) Access to Arts, Nature, & Adventure. 8.) Instruction.
9.) Opportunity for the "Needs to have" items above.
1.) Lack of proper "BOYHOOD", see previous chapter. He'll need those character traits to survive here.
2.) Repeated failure: without encouragement, interpretation, instruction or real opportunity to succeed.
3.) Over-protection, legalism, or any number of stifling environments.
4.) Lack of a mentor: No one to show him HOW to drive a car, use a power tool, make a tackle, etc.
RECOVERY "Search me, Oh God, and try my heart." (psalm 139:23)
1.) Ask God to TEST YOU, and to PROVE HIMSELF to you in the test.
2.) Go on a "cowboy" adventure, where you're forced to push yourself.
3.) Go on another adventure, this time a "real" one. Something constructive, like a genuine mission trip
"Finally my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in His mighty power." Eph 6:10
"The Lord is a Warrior, The Lord is His Name." Exod 15:3
5 THINGS A CHAMPION NEEDS TO KNOW (LEARN) -
1.) See Previous chapters.
2.) I am NEEDED.
5 THINGS A CHAMPION NEEDS TO DO -
1.) Take a stand.
2.) Be active, not passive.
3.) Focus, (keep your head.)
5.) Give / Sacrifice.
5 THINGS A CHAMPION NEEDS TO HAVE -
1.) A "Just" Cause.
2.) Settled Faith in God.
3.) Leadership and knowledge.
4.) Faithful support.
WHY THE WARRIOR? - BECAUSE EVIL "IS".
"It may take time, and require repeated provocation, but eventually a man must realize there are certain things
in life worth fighting for. Take anything good, true or beautiful on this earth, and ask yourself, can this be
protected without a fight? A great part of man's mission here on earth is to join the Great Warrior in His battle
GOD THE WARRIOR - HIS PEOPLE THE WARRIORS
1.) God the Warrior - Exod 15:3, Isaiah 42:13, Jer 20:11, Psalm 24:28
2.) Abraham called to war - to restore that which was wrongfully taken. (Gen 14:8-16)
3.) Deut 1:26-32 - The children of Israel sin by shrinking from battle at the gateway to the promised land.
4.) Joshua, Judges, The Kings (especially David) - all called to battle.
5.) Jesus - Discuss "Prince of Peace". See Matt 10:34, John 2:17, and Rev. 19:11-15.
6.) Our battle with the flesh and the devil. Jas 4:7, 1 Pet 5:9, Eph 6:10-17, Gal 5:16-18.
BRAVERY - "The foremost virtue upon which all others depend." - Winston Churchill.
a.) Physical. B.) Emotional. (relationships) C.) Spiritual (Obeying God with potential cost.)
CONVICTION - "We don't want reckless warriors, but those who will fight for what's right."
a.) Teach HONOR of doing right over wrong. B.) Teach LOVE for the WORD OF GOD.
BATTLE TACTICS - a.) Resist evil in Jesus' name. b.) Resist quickly. C.) One battle at a time d.) Ask God two questions;
Should I fight? Give me strength? E.) Once in, don't second-guess. F.) Holiness is your best weapon. "He(the
evil one) has nothing on me." - John 14:30.
1.) Don't squelch the "Wild at Heart" warrior in a boy. Channel it. If he's trapped in passivity, lead
2.) Let the Cowboy ride, and let God, through circumstance and consequences, "Call out the warrior" in
1.) Under-developed "Cowboy", with "The Question" (Do I have what it takes?) not well answered.
2.) Wrong Values - eg. "Peace above all." Love of comfort. Path of least resistance. Consumerism.
3.) Lack of "Needs to Have" above: Lacks a just cause, real faith, sensible leadership or faithful support.
RECOVERY "Well, I went to the devil's house, and I took back what he stole from me."
1.) Where were you wounded? Get your "Question" answered. (Book suggests martial arts.)
2.) Where were you deceived? What does God's word really say about Christian behavior and sacrifice?
3.) Where are you frustrated? What relationships do you need to develop or decrease?
"Awake, My Soul" - Ps 57:8
"I have found the one my heart loves." - Song Sol. 3:4
THE LOVER - THE GUY WITH THE HEART! APPRECIATES:
1.) The Good (Has a moral compass that comes from God & extends to people.)
2.) The True (Measures reality by spiritual and eternal absolutes.)
3.) The Beautiful (In God, in nature, in art, in women.)
VALUES: TRANSCENDENCE! Beyond self and "a life that works", he wants there to be
MEANING in his ACCOMPLISHMENTS. This finds itself in:
a.) Helping others. b.) Glorifying God (and seeking & gaining His approval.)
This all leads to "THE DREAM" - The belief that life matters, and that he can help make the world a better
place. Hence, the LOVER fuels the WARRIOR.
CELTIC PROVERB: Never give a sword to a man who can't dance.
DEVELOPMENTAL: (Boyhood & Cowboy)
1.) To grow up LOVED. Experiencing the blessings of kindness.
2.) To be introduced at an early age to GOD / Right & Wrong / His own "intentions"
3.) To have access to "primitive arts" - books, good movies & stories, positive music, class plays,
4.) Later, to have exposure to "real" arts: better books, musical instruments, access to education, etc.
5.) To have continual access to nature. Nearby parks or forests. Vacations or weekends in Adirondacks, etc.
6.) To develop a genuine relationship with GOD as a person. (Not just a force, obligation, boss or Santa.)
THE LOVER AND GOD
Psalm 4:7, 6:6, 16:11, 36:8, 42:1, 63:1-3. (Read all.) Always be open to God's romancing of you: Psalm 27:3-4.
AND THEN FINALLY, THE WOMAN! (Eve's interruption in the life of the Cowboy.)
"Her dream is to be pursued, and "rescued" by a strong, caring, healthy (handsome), prince who will
make her his own, and bring her on daring adventures, showing her to be his great prize."
She isn't just a problem to be solved, or a challenger to be out-done. Search for her HEART!
THE "LOVER" VS. THE "CONSUMER"
1.) Loves the woman from a position of strength. He can lead spiritually, provide, and protect.
2.) Knows God's love, and passes similar love on. "As Christ loved the church…"
3.) Asks "How can I fill her world with wonder?"
VS. THE "CONSUMER"
1.) Wants a "trophy wife" as a badge of honor.
2.) Seeks his validation from her.
3.) Wants his answer to "The Question" from her,
And if he doesn't get it, goes tit-for-tat in the relationship.
What causes "Consumers"? - Lack of developmental points above, plus:
Fear of unknown, over-work, or laziness, pre-marital sex, emotional abuse or counter-example.
RECOVERY - Read the Psalms, and take a walk.
Let God love you, and show you His world of GOODNESS, TRUTH, and BEAUTY.
"One thing have I desired of the Lord,
That will I seek after:
That I may dwell in the presence of the Lord all the days of my life,
To behold the beauty of the Lord,
And to enquire in His temple."
"The highest heavens belong to the Lord, but the earth he has given to the sons
"…not to be served, but to serve, and to give his life…" (Matt 20:28)
BORN TO RULE - The Biblical Mandate and Template (above verses, plus: )
1.) Gen 1:27-28 - God created man in His own image, and gave him dominion over the earth.
2.) Rev 20:4 - We will live and reign with Christ on earth for 1000 years.
3.) 2 Sam 5:12 - David appointed king for the people's sake.
4.) 1 Sam 16:7 - Man looks on the outer, God looks on the inner man.
5.) Matt 25:23 - He who has been faithful in little will be made ruler of much.
6.) Eph 5 - Man as the head of the family.
7.) Prov 21:1 - The heart of the king is in the hand of the Lord. (so live seeking God's heart.)
A KING's domain - Family / job / ministry / team / etc.
THE SERVANT KING - The mature Warrior/Lover who has come to reign.
1.) Rules for the benefit of others, (not just his own pleasure or fulfillment.)
Brings: A.) Order. B.) Protection. C.) Blessings.
2.) His subjects are "secure". (The test of a king : look at his subjects.)
3.) He returns from battle only when #2 is true.
4.) Influences upcoming warriors, (not to mentions lovers, cowboys, boys.)
CHRIST - The perfect servant/king.
When can you trust a man with POWER? When his CHARACTER is proven.
1.) Development of courage, integrity, purity, kindness, humility, etc., vs. "win at all cost".
a.) Boys want toys & acceptance of others. b.) Cowboys want approval of others. Neither are kings.
2.) Seek character. What is the RIGHT thing to do?
3.) Seek experience in work (warrior stage) and relationships (lover stage).
1.) Lack of developmental points mentioned above. Often due to domineering parents, or to a weak father figure.
2.) Betrayal by a previous king. 3.) Pride & other self-centeredness.
4.) Our society does not necessarily promote the right people into leadership roles.
1.) Use the "midlife crisis" checkpoint to your advantage. Learn where are you unfulfilled and why.
2.) Nurture your "Warrior" and "Lover" stages.
3.) Rule well (and learn from) every opportunity you get.
ADVICE TO KINGS
1.) Evaluate your ruling style in comparison to Christ's.
2.) Evaluate the state of your subjects.
3.) Walk with God.
a.) Moses - "And God commanded Moses…" starts many chapters,the rest is Moses obeying.
b.) David - "And David asked, 'shall I go up?'" He checked in with God before battle.
4.) Beware isolation. In multitude of counselors there is safety. (Prov.11:14, 15:22)
5.) Manage: Delegate, equip and nurture.
6.) Keep your testimony!!!!
"Be followers of me, even as I am of Christ." - 1 Cor 11:1
"Whatever diminished your heart as a king, don't let it win. As a king you were born & a king you must
"The gray head is a crown of glory, if it be found in the way of righteousness."
"The glory of the young is their strength - the gray hair of expertise is the splendor of the old." -
What do these men have in common? - Samuel, Ben Franklin, Yoda, Merlin, Gandolf?
WHEN - (avg 60 yrs?)
1.) When relieved of the demanding responsibilities of being in charge.
2.) When he's learned well from his experiences.
3.) When he communes well with God.
"The Sage has room in his presence for you. He has understanding. He has no agenda, and nothing to lose or
prove. What he offers, he offers with kindness and discretion, knowing by instinct those who have ears to hear
and those who don't. Thus his words are offered in the right measure, at the right time, to the right person. (Prov
25:11 - A word aptly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver.) He will not trouble you with things
you do not yet need to know, or burdens you are not yet ready to bear, nor embarrass you for the shortcomings you
are not yet ready to overcome, even though he sees all of that. He is both wise and compassionate." Pg 270.
1.) Counsels (gives wise advice from the word of God related to personal experience.)
2.) Mentors (trains and affirms.)
3.) Fathers (believes in you and God's love for you, and His purpose through you.)
1.) Previous stages lived well and fully, give him the ability to SEE WHAT IS REAL.
2.) He has challenged himself anew! Found a new cause. He'll pray, pay, & be there.
3.) He'll be available, seeking quality people to invest in.
HINDERANCES - (Prov.16:31 above, see the word "IF") (Sadly, real sages are RARE.)
1.) Pride. Lived life as a fool, refusing to learn from experience.
2.) Resentment over lost kingdom.
3.) Self-indulgence. It's my turn to have it my way.
4.) Scorn & dismissal by others. (Foolish kings fear Sages. Society makes heroes of the young & handsome.)
HOW YOU CAN BE BLESSED BY THEM -
1.) Seek them. Don't make the mistake of #4 under HINDERANCES. Remember Rehoboam.
2.) Ask their advice humbly, because:
a.) You need to ask them, because they won't force it on you.
b.) Ask humbly because they won't cast pearls before swine.
3.) Know that a real sage will draw you to God-reliance, (not self-reliance or their glory.)
"Let us hear the conclusion of the matter: fear God, and follow his principles. For this is the whole duty
of man. For God will judge between the truly good and truly evil."