A Manhood Manifesto; Raising Godly Sons
“Be on the alert, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love.” 1 Corinthians 16:13-14
I want to raise Godly sons. I want to train my boys to be men. But what Christian parent doesn’t?
It’s not enough though to know something or even want to do it, there also has to be a plan and a goal. I tell my little guys all the time that there are two things that I have to teach them and they know the two things – “Love Jesus and be a man.”
For a while now I have been taking mental notes and jotting down some ideas I want to model and teach to my sons. The catalyst to do so came mostly from John Wooden’s book, The Essential Wooden; A Lifetime of Lessons on Leaders and Leadership. In the book, Wooden tells of the influence his dad, Joshua Wooden, had on his life by the way his dad lived but also by short lists that his dad consistently referenced in teachable moments.
For instance, Wooden’s dad had simple rules to live by which were organized into what he called “Two Sets of Three.” The first set was about honesty:
- Never lie.
- Never cheat.
- Never steal.
The second set was about adversity:
- Don’t wine.
- Don’t complain.
- Don’t make excuses.
Another example is the occasion of John’s graduation from elementary school when Joshua gave his son a two dollar bill and a list of “Seven things to do.”
John Wooden, one of the greatest leaders and most successful men in recent memory, was obviously deeply impacted by these little lists in conjunction with the example of his father’s life. There’s something to be learned and applied here.
Having these little lists seem important to me for at least two reasons. First, they serve as a memorable reference for addressing the challenges a boy will face as he hopefully becomes a man with the guidance of his father. Second, it seems to me that having a list(s) is critically important for the father who is trying to teach his son what it means to be a man. The father who has a list is a father who has thought about what he wants to model and teach and why he wants to do so. This in turn causes the father who has made the list to consider where his life lines up with these expectations, and it challenges the father in his own life. After all, no one can give to another what he himself does not possess. The damage of demanding something from someone, especially a son, without living it personally could be devastating to the son and the father. The list(s) therefore serves to instruct and edify the son and the father.
A list that is completed for the purpose of lovingly helping a son become a man is a tool that shows a father knows and desires to give his son a plan so that he can become a man. And more than ever we need men who have a plan to raise up Godly men. The world right now is full of boys who can shave (Mark Driscoll) who are in turn raising up boys who can shave. Gender and age do not make a man. So what then is a man? What does a man do? What are his convictions?
As I have already mentioned, I have been jotting ideas for a while. This morning I sat down with Lacey and we took what I had and collaborated together to come up with our own “list of seven things” to pass on to our sons. Here’s what we came up with:
- Men live for God’s glory by trusting Jesus and following Him (1 Corinthians 10:31; Matthew 22:36-40; Matthew 28:18-20; 2 Corinthians 5:14-15).
- Men respect others (Matthew 22:36-40; Matthew 7:12; Philippians 2:3-4). Treat others the way you would want to be treated, for this is the law and the prophets.
- Men always tell the truth. Everyone makes mistakes, but a man tells the truth even when it hurts (Ps. 15:1-2; John 14:6; Exodus 20:16).
- Men don’t whine and complain (Philippians 2:14).
- Men have big hearts and work hard at whatever they do (Col. 3:17, 23). “It’s hard to do things well, it’s not hard to work hard.” Scott Brooks
- Men manage the money God gives them so they can be rich toward God and generous toward others (Luke 12:13-34; Luke 14:12-15; 2 Corinthians 8-9).
- Men finish what they start, even when life is hard (John 19:30; 1 Timothy 4:7-8). Jesus is our example and we are never more like Him than when we follow His example in persevering.
Father’s Day is tomorrow. It’s a day we honor fathers. Is there any greater honor for a father than raising Godly sons who will by God’s grace in Christ become Godly men? It won’t happen by accident. Take the time and make a list. You won’t regret it, but you might regret it if you don’t.