Richard Simmon’s book was written after the American economic recession, and confronts the issues men have faced as a result of the downturn. His premise is that financial instability forced many men to reconsider what priorities they have pursued, because it has crumbled the façade of success: “under an exterior life of confidence, there exists in almost all men a hidden life of fear, pain and loneliness.” This pain and isolation is the result of men not being able to build community but to constantly feel unfulfilled in their present situations.
The paramount question, Simmons argues that every man struggles with is, “What will people think of me?” This question constantly produces fear, inadequacy and shame within a man’s life; he is afraid that his iniquities will be discovered. Therefore, most men are consumed with comparison that leads to dissatisfaction with the present:
One of the reasons we struggle to find meaning and joy in our lives is because no matter where we are in life, no matter how well things might be going for us right now, we always seem to be able to contemplate a better life in the future, better than what we are experiencing right now.
This dissatisfaction results in a loss of meaning and purpose to life. As a result option, Simmons’ challenges the masculine perspective that performance, accomplishments, and titles set their identities.
Having deconstructed the male perspective, Simmons seeks to offer an alternative identity source. Rather than being based upon performance, the true measure of a man resides in Jesus Christ. The emphasis is upon character traits like humility, courage, self-restraint, and relationships. While Simmons manages to expose the emptiness resulting from a performance based identity, his attempt to rebuild a Christ-centered identity lacks a theologically and biblically robust argument.