I believe that many of the sons who are growing up in this generation will one day grow up to be “lost boys” if fathers don’t teach them how to become men. I rarely meet fathers who don’t know how to provide for the material needs of their families or how to have fun with their sons, but I have encountered many fathers who do not know how to mentor or disciple their sons. So many boys live in homes where fathers are spiritually absent.
Well-meaning dads may give comforts that money can buy. However, these things do not make boys become men. Boys become men when a father is actively and intentionally involved in training and disciplining them. In Ephesians 6:4 it says, “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” And in Proverbs 19:18 it says, “Discipline your son while there is hope, and do not desire his death.” (The previous verses of this proverb were addressed to a man). What these verses tell us is fathers have a special responsibility “to bring up,” “to discipline and to instruct.”
When I was growing up, my father was very actively involved in our lives. He was working hard and was busy most of the week, but he made it a point to have dinner with us and be available in the evenings and on the weekends. At night, we would take walks as a family and he would answer our many questions and give us wise counsel. On Sundays, we would have family devotions where he would teach us from God’s word. (They weren’t long, no more than 15 to 30 minutes but they made a big impact.) I saw him mentor my brothers by teaching them how to play sports, how to make the right choices, how to be brave and responsible, how to treat women, how to be disciplined, how to choose the right friends, how to study and teach the Bible, and how to be businessmen. He was an example of godliness, integrity, humility, discipline, courage, and dependability. He was stern but not tyrannical. He did not play favorites and he was even-tempered, never once shouting at us or my mom. Although he was not perfect, he was more consistent at being a good example than being a bad one. That made a significant impact in our lives, but more so in the lives of my brothers. I believe they became good husbands, good fathers, and good Christians because my dad taught them how to become men.
Many boys do not grow up. They stay like the lost boys in Neverneverland, who speak, think, reason, and act like children. We see many of these kind in today’s society. Men who do not treat women with respect. Men who choose the wrong friends. Men whose word is not dependable. Men who back out of situations or responsibilities when “the going gets tough.” Men who do not know how to make a stand for righteousness. 1 Corinthians 13:10-12 says, “When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things.” We cannot afford to let our boys NOT grow up.
Our sons are still young, but I am thankful that Edric has become intentional with them. To do this, he takes our two older sons, Elijah and Edan, with him to work every Thursday (when they also take violin and Taekwondo lessons at TMA Homeschool).
I asked him one day, “What do you guys do when you are together on Thursdays?” He gave me a whole list of things that are part of his mentoring process for them. As soon as they arrive at his office, they have to organize their things in one corner. They bring their books, violins, a backpack, and breakfast on this day so they are not allowed to just put everything on the floor or table. Edric showed them how to have a system for keeping their things in order. Over lunch, he teaches them table manners and social skills. They usually get to pick the restaurant and during this time, he makes them place the orders and interact with the waiters. If they need something, he will not get it for them, but will encourage them to be the ones to help themselves. He also inserts lessons on how to be a “gentleman,” so that they correct each other by saying things like, “that’s not being a gentleman!” when they eat with their hands or act improperly at the table. In the afternoons he teaches Filipino to Elijah and he makes sure the boys finish their assignments for the day. On the way to and from the office, he also gets to talk with them and know them better. They get to ask their questions and get them answered. Thursdays is called “Big Boy’s Time.”
When the boys come home in the afternoon, I can tell that their emotional tanks are full. They will tell me what they did with their dad and how much fun they had. I have wanted to spy on them many times just to see what they are doing, but the smiles on their faces at the end of the day speaks volumes.
Like my dad, Edric isn’t always perfect, but his desire to be an intentional father is filling a need in our sons that I cannot. I know this because I was asking Elijah yesterday what is the one most fun thing in the whole world for him, and he said to me, “I have most fun with dad, when he teaches me new things and spends time with me.”
My prayer for the sons and fathers out there is that God would indeed restore the hearts of the fathers to their children and the hearts of the children to their fathers…” (Malachi 4:6)