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The Man Code: Book Review

Jayce O'Neal, Ph.D.


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The Man Code is a new book from authors Dennis Swanberg and Ron Smith that broaches the subject of men and their need for relationships. The premise of the book is that most men either do not see the importance of relationships or simply do not put enough effort into the ones they have.

The code the book is named after is a series of numbers that represent certain needs that each man has whether he knows it or not. The code is 1, 3, 12, 120, and 3000. The first phase of the code is the number “1”. This symbolizes man’s need for a strong relationship with God. The code numbers 3 and 12 represent certain types of friendships men need in their lives. The number 120 identifies the value of being involved in the local church, and 3,000 signifies every man’s calling to reach out to other people.

The Book's Layout

The feel and structure of this book are actually very well done. It is short in length so it is not a turn-off to those men who are intimidated by larger books. The layout is easy to follow and for those men who really desire to unlock the man code in their lives there are also journaling and activity sections to help the readers to evaluate the current state of their lives.

The ManCode's Audience

This new book is geared more for Christian men, as evident in its language and use of religious terms. There is a section for non-Christian men to pray the Lord’s prayer if they so desire, but many of the explanations are in such a way that many non-Christians may not fully understand what the authors are trying to say.

The Positives

The Man Code tackles a much needed subject within the church. God created mankind to be relational beings and this book attempts to address the growing issue of loneliness and isolation so often found in the modern church. The self-evaluation tools in the back of the book are helpful and uncomplicated, so the "Average Joe" could easily use them. Also, the quotes included in each chapter are relevant and come from leaders of the faith.

The Negatives

Although the book covers an important subject, it does make some sweeping assumptions about men. The first assumption is that all men neglect relationships: “We men are so predictable: As a way of avoiding even the remotest possibility of authentic relationships…we never manage to develop even one really close friendship.”

Another broad generalization is that most men often do not plan; they act off impulse: “We tend to act first and think second (sometimes, it seems, engaging the brain only as a last resort). And when we do, we can get ourselves into big trouble.”

These generalities are distracting because those who are likely to read this book do in fact care about relationships and do take the time to think things through. If they didn't, they wouldn't take to time to read a relationally focused book.

The Take Away

The Man Code helps readers identify the need for relationships and gives practical advice on how to navigate those friendships. It is a very quick read, and is a great tool for any man who has very little knowledge in the area of relationships. This book would most likely best be served in men’s ministry, especially a small group focused on the needs of men.

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About The Author


Dr. Jayce O’Neal is the pastor of RED Church in Virginia Beach. RED Church is a growing church community focused on Pursuing God, Loving Others, and Impacting the World. Dr. Jayce is also the author of One-Minute Devotions for Boys, No Girls Allowed: Devotions for Boys, Crazy Circus World and 100 Answers to 100 Questions Every Graduate Should Know. He is an Instructor at Regent University and is an avid sports fan who enjoys cheering for his favorite sports teams while eating pizza with a fork. Dr. Jayce has a Doctorate, two Masters Degrees, a Bachelor of Science, and a small trophy for