Jesus Sets The Standard for Masculinity: Interview by Frank Viola
I recently had the chance to interact with one of my favorite Christian authors, Frank Viola. Frank Viola is a Wall Street Journal best selling author of over 13 books. Frank is also a blogger and conference speaker. He is the founder of the Deeper Journey, the author of Insurgence: Reclaiming the Gospel of the Kingdom and the host of the Christ is All and Insurgence podcast.
This interview was originally published on Frank's Patheos blog and I have reposted it here.
What is the premise of The Standard?
I wrote this book to present Jesus as the Standard for true masculinity. Discovering Jesus as the standard for masculinity is generally unknown. The identity of men is under attack. Countless men are choosing a life of comfort and convenience. While others are striving, driven by their personal ambitions. Christian men need to confront the issues we are facing through a tested framework. We discover the answers we are searching for through the life of Christ. The Lord creates men with purpose, calling and mandate. There needs to be a pursuit with diligence to discover and activate our true identity. The Standard serves as a playbook for the modern Christian man.
Right now, there is an attack on masculinity, the world is wrestling over what true manhood is and how we define it. In the 2010’s the term, Toxic Masculinity entered mainstream media discussions. We are now witnessing a recalibration of gender roles and how manhood is to be defined. The world is seeking to annihilate anything anchored to the concept of traditional masculinity.
Men today are searching for identity, value and meaning. Our culture elevates status, titles and position in society. The problem with these pursuits is that alone they lead to an empty and unsatisfied life. Jesus offers the men who followed him significance through a new identity.
In The Standard I reveal an often-overlooked model Jesus provides men. I found a pattern in his life through what he models, his methods, his actions and how he invites men to live. He is the standard by which you and I are called to live up to and we don’t do this through our own strength, but through his. Jesus is the standard for true Biblical masculinity.
Why did you write The Standard and who is it for?
This book is for Kingdom Driven Men who are committed to growth. As men we have this inherent drive to conquer, subdue and take dominion, it’s in our DNA by God’s design. The challenge we face is that we find ourselves immersed in the world and its systems. We live surrounded by competing voices telling us how we should excel and grow. The world is trying to conform us to the surrounding culture. Our command in scripture stands in stark contrast as we are to be pursuing conformity to Christ.
The world’s message is ‘hustle, grit and grind’. This works mentality tells men that your value is based on what you do, not who you are. As Christian men, in the world but not of it, we must be on guard. We have been born into a battle, and we need to discern the voices that are attempting to influence us. Jesus said, "take care how you hear." This applies to the influencers we ‘follow”, the books we read and what we listen to. Kingdom men are not allowed to hit the 'subscribe' button for just any voice that comes across their social media feeds.
When we see Jesus as the standard for our lives it brings clarity and definition to our desires. Our appetite to see growth and multiplication in every area of our lives increases. It is very powerful to study the life of Jesus and understand the seasons he went through. He lives and models a life submitted in obedience to the will of his Father. Like us, Jesus goes through prolonged seasons of preparation. He embraces the process, and he models this for us as the perfect Son.
How is The Standard different from other men’s books?
There is no shortage of men’s ministry books. These books often look at the lives of biblical characters to draw parallels to the issues men face and the struggles that confront every man. I have noticed that men have no problem learning from biblical characters that experienced moral failures. These biblical characters are relatable and provide examples we can learn from. In The Standard my aim is to place a focus on Jesus as our ultimate model for manhood and how we view true masculinity.
Men have no problem accepting and relating to Jesus as the Son of God. But many miss the fact that he is the Son of God and the Son of Man at the same time. Jesus refers to himself as the 'Son of Man' over 80 times in the gospels, a title that identifies him with his humanity. We see in scripture that Jesus emptied himself and chose to self-limit his power by becoming a man. His call to 'follow me' ignites a fire in men and infuses us with strength and fearlessness to walk the road he calls us to. With many confusing models for manhood displayed through movies and media. The goal of The Standard is to make Jesus accessible to modern men that are looking for a new way.
We also need to acknowledge that Christianity has been feminized. From songs to artwork to the bible stories that are emphasized within modern day churches. There has been a one-dimensional view of Jesus presented. This depiction of Jesus is of a weak, emaciated man who we have come to view as only a lamb. There are many dimensions to the life of Jesus that are often left unexplored. Jesus is not only a lamb, but He is also a lion. He is a powerful man who transformed 12 unrefined men and empowered them to shake the world.
What provoked you to write the book?
This book was born out of my devotional time with the Lord. I did a deep dive into the gospels a few years ago. During this time, I was looking at the life of Jesus, but this time I was looking with a new lens. I was looking at not only his message and miracles. I was examining his life through his methods, his approach and operating principles. I was seeking him through the Biblical accounts to understand what he was doing, why and how. I became consumed with learning from his life, not because I wanted to ‘hack’ a style or mimic what I saw. I pursued this because as believers we have his life within us. His invitation is not to live through our own strength or willpower. He invites us to walk in union with him and live our lives through him.
As I was seeking Jesus through the scripture, I started journaling what I was seeing. Along the way I realized I needed to study, structure and share it. I've been both an entrepreneur who built businesses and I've also been in the corporate environment for over 15 years. As a business leader I've had the chance to learn from what the world has to offer. I have received training and have experience building high performing teams. I have studied leadership models and management styles that increase productivity and effectiveness. I learned there is limitless wisdom we can gain form the life of Jesus.
- Before leadership models were being examined in MBA programs. Jesus was modeling servant leadership.
- Before the buzz about demonstrating empathy and cultivating emotional intelligence (E.Q.). Jesus was building trust with those he taught and ministered to through his high level of E.Q.
- Before we learned how to start re-wiring our thought patterns through neuroscience techniques. Jesus was teaching concepts and revealing the truth around true transformation. Truth that is now confirmed through the latest research and studies.
Jesus institutes high performance habits that men can implement, apply and execute. All these attributes and many more are lived out and modeled through the humanity of Jesus. He experiences temptation in every way we do, but he never sins. He must deal with all the issues that confront us as modern Christian men. Jesus exemplifies the character men must develop. This is where and how we see the standard he sets for us.
What are the 6 dimensions of masculinity from the life of Jesus that you cover in The Standard?
Within The Standard we examine the life of Jesus in the following 6 dimensions.
Self-Mastery: We discover Jesus as the one who walks with a measuring reed. He is the standard by which we measure everything and, he sets the standard for us today.
Leadership: We will follow Him as our fearless leader. He leads and guides us with a rod in His hand. He offers us protection and provision and calls us to do the same for others.
Communication: We will see and hear the way He delivers His message and how His words shape and form us. He divides our soul from spirit and revealing our thoughts and intents. His words pull us towards our purpose.
Empathy: We will see Him as the fisher of men. He captivates and captures hearts through the way he relates to us, the connection he establishes and emotion he demonstrates.
Confrontation: We will learn that He is not a safe Savior. He deconstructs, challenges and confronts anything that seeks to stand in the way of others coming to the truth.
Love: We look at His mission in physical form on earth, finished with his embrace of the cross and followed by his ascension as he invites us to live an elevated life.
Each chapter is purposely packaged in a short bite sized length. Following each chapter is a ‘coaching section’ where we focus on application. Here I issue challenges to men on relevant issues that we face every day. Due to the short chapters, I have learned that many men are using The Standard as a devotional or daily reader.
What is some of the feedback you have received to The Standard?
I am overwhelmed with the positive receptivity of the book. I found that men who are driven to succeed and grow in life often find they do not fit in with current church culture. The message is resonating with entrepreneurs and business guys the most. They are embracing a lifestyle of discipline and upgrading their relationships.
The Standard offers a fresh way for men to ask if they are taking the right actions to maximize their potential. The men that I hear from, are seeking a different path. They are sick of generic and recycled personal development messages. The feedback that surprised me the most were from men that are not new to their faith. These guys shared that The Standard offered new perspectives from the life of Jesus. These views translated to how they view their work and interactions in daily life.
The two comments that struck me the most were:
"This is the most non-religious book on Jesus I have read!"
"This book is a gateway drug for Jesus!"
I encourage potential readers to check out the reviews on Amazon.
Do You Have a Podcast?
I have launched a podcast in 2021, called 'Raising the Standard,' Leadership, Mindset and Development for the Kingdom Man.
The show covers topics that we explore in the book. As well as other relevant subjects for kingdom minded men. The episodes focus on practical and actionable strategies that you can apply immediately. You can hear us discussing faith, family, fitness and finance.
You can listen to 'Raising The Standard' wherever you listen to podcasts.
What are you working on next?
I developed a framework for Kingdom Driven Men who want to take dominion in life with Jesus as the Standard. All men are created to be leaders, but not all men lead. Leadership always starts with leading yourself. In line with this, I have created a 40-day spiritual and physical transformation program. My goal is to train Kingdom Driven Men to take dominion over themselves first. I use a framework called the Raising The Standard (RTS) Method, which comprises 3 steps:
- Accessing Your Unfair Advantage
- Mastering Daily Discipline
- Upgrading Your Environment
Anyone that wants to learn more can visit the Standard 59 website.
How can men connect with you to find out more about how to engage with the message of The Standard?
Anyone interested in connecting with the message of The Standard can learn more at www.standard59.com
You can connect with me on facebook or instagram @kingdomathlete
How can readers get the book?
You can get The Standard through Amazon and Audible