Eternal Impact: Investing in the Lives of Men

By Phil Downer with Chip MacGregor

Harvest House Publishers, 1997 | ISBN 1-56507-772-5

Reviewed by Merle Harton, Jr.

Being a Christian today requires much help, but the helper—anyone in a Christian leadership role—needs even more support, more encouragement, and more of the right tools to make a difference to others. Phil Downer's book is an awesome resource for men who are on their way to spiritual maturity. It is also a well-reasoned argument for becoming a spiritual parent, someone who can (like Paul with Timothy) mentor another person to growth in the Christian way.

In place of "confrontational" evangelism, Downer advocates the more tactically effective "lifestyle" evangelism, which can be traced to the very methods used by Jesus himself in mentoring his disciples. Indeed, discipleship is the key word here, for the author challenges each Christian man to be what he calls "a man of significance." To achieve this, says Downer, "you've got to invest yourself in the life of another man. You've got to commit yourself to helping someone else mature in the faith." For that, after all, is what discipleship really is—"establishing a relationship with another person and helping him grow up in Jesus Christ." To help us understand how it is done, he shares his own faith stories, stories-from-the-trenches, and both the successes and failures of leading other men to maturity in the Christian walk. Within each of these stories, too, are the lessons Downer himself learned as he matured and learned to parent others. So varied are the circumstances and characters of these small dramas that the reader is sure to find something genuinely familiar, if not enlightening.

Written for men, this is a book that rests on principles that Christian women can certainly use in their evangelical relationships with other women. And the lessons are many in this rich book, for Downer tackles such topics as accountability, the Biblical basis of discipleship, developing character, surviving adversity, knowing God's will, taking your faith to work and bringing it home, and learning how to multiply yourself so as to make an important difference in the life of another human.

Although Downer is not Quaker, Christian Friends will nevertheless find a brotherly affiliation with his Christian perspective, both healthy and balanced, and much that is shared with the Quaker tradition. Downer's discussion of waiting on the Lord, for example, is well worth reading apart from the whole. But no reader can leave Eternal Impact without feeling the same sentiments Downer expresses when he says: "I want to leave a legacy of trained, active spiritual soldiers of the cross, who will stand in the gap for the Lord Jesus Christ, winning and discipling others long after I'm gone." This is an outstanding discussion and guide for men on living the authentic Christian life, on becoming a spiritual reproducer, and making a difference in other men's lives. This is a book that pushes the scales from our eyes, as we too learn why and how to become men of significance.

Copyright © 1999 by Merle Harton, Jr.

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