Book Review: Between Us Guys by Joel Fitzpatrick
When you hear, “Hey, just between us guys…,” you can expect that the topic of the conversation is one best understood by men and are best had around other males. However, in Joel Fitzpatrick’s book Between Us Guys: Life-Changing Conversations for Dads and Sons, he takes this type of conversation and applies it to Christ-centered discussions between fathers and sons. The book is geared towards dads who have sons in their early teens, but Fitzpatrick notes that dads can tailor the talking points to fit the son’s age.
As far as devotionals go, there are not a lot of books like Between Us Guys that are built to encourage the crucial relationship a father has with his son. Structuring his approach around godly messages that are meant to help both son and father increase their understanding of God and His nature, Fitzpatrick offers a Christ-centered message about how to effectively communicate some hard-to-talk-about truths.
All the chapters in the book are conversations about life that men should have with their sons, such as “Family,” “Disappointment,” “Money,” and “Girls.” Fitzpatrick further breaks down these topics into subcategories that are easy to follow like “Themes” (messages associated with each topic), “Getting to Jesus” (how the themes are related to Jesus), and “Suggested Activity” (something a father can do with his son to help facilitate the conversation). The activities and suggestions about how to initiate these often difficult conversations are practical and meant to help the dad get past initial obstacles to get to a productive conversation about Jesus.
Talk Eleven, titled “Girls,” is especially good. As a college male, I can attest to the fact that a young man’s attitude towards girls does not really change from the time he is twelve and thirteen to when he is nineteen and twenty: you realize there is something about girls you like and you want to spend time with them. The theme associated with the topic is, “Girls are cool, fun, good friends, and they deserve our respect, care, and love.” The message is simple, but it drives home the point that God calls us to treat women the way He treats us—especially the ones we as men are attracted to. Fitzpatrick is firm on this notion, writing, “Sadly, men often use women for their own pleasure. Men abuse women, using either physical violence or saying mean things to them, to make women feel bad and do what they want. This is not what God wanted.” This opens the door for some tough questions that a young son may ask his dad, but these discussions are necessary. I remember my dad often instructing me on the proper way to treat women in a godly way. Those deep conversations still influence how I act today.
One of the most important elements of the book is that Fitzpatrick bases all of his lessons in Scripture—everything flows from what is in the Bible. The verses he draws upon to form his message are commandments for how God wants us to live out our lives in communion with Him and others. The couple of verses at the end of each chapter highlight his points, whether it be the importance of respecting people or recognizing that we are broken creatures and totally depend on God. Fitzpatrick never loses sight of the truth that we are sinful and in need of saving grace. Each lesson effectively teaches how we take the good things God gives us and spoil them through our own sinfulness. Fitzpatrick gets this essential Christian message across in a gentle but firm way that makes it easy for dads to explain to their young sons.
For example, in Talk Ten on “Money,” Fitzpatrick explains that while money is a good thing, we are easily corrupted by it because “of our desire for things, for power, and to look better in front of others” He goes on to explain that while this desire is our natural setting, by living a life centered around Jesus, we learn to be generous with our money. Fitzpatrick writes that Jesus gave up everything for us; by following his example, we will not feel the desire to be so greedy.
All the instructions and pointing out of the flaws might lead both dads and sons to feel discouraged, but Fitzpatrick is sure to drive home his most important point: Jesus died for our sins out of His love for us. Fitzpatrick writes, “Jesus loves us so much that He never leaves us.” This is the most encouraging message in the book that dads can share with their sons.
Between Us Guys is a valuable resource for any dad wishing to have Christ-centered conversations with his son. Clear messages and action-oriented discussions provide a good roadmap for godly discussions.