We get asked all the time, “What do you mean by real man?”Understandable, because our book is called Raising Real Men, but it’s amazing how often the questioner is strident, even a little belligerent. “My son’s sensitive and quiet, are you saying he’s not a real man?” is the unspoken question, I think.
Being a real man isn’t about wrestling alligators or climbing Mount Everest. An art historian or a hair dresser can be a real man, too. It’s really about serving God in fulfilling the basic duties He’s given all men. Men are called to be protectors, providers and leaders. Perhaps it shouldn’t surprise us how many of the challenges of raising boys come from those same qualities that will make him a real man if he learns to submit them to Christ.
Boys can be amazingly aggressive. They want to play war, or read about it. Their tend toward anger, while their moms just want peace and gentleness. We’ve got to teach them the righteous use of aggression – to protect the weak and innocent and to execute justice. So, we teach them to pretend to be cops, not robbers, to be soldiers, not pirates and Secret Service, not counterfeiters. And, I try to remember that God didn’t mean them to be like me when they’re noisily wrestling all over the floor!
God made boys to grow up to provide for their families one day. Our boys don’t like to do things that don’t seem profitable to them. Busywork is the worst, but they have a hard time seeing the value in chores, too, until we explain what they contribute to the family. When I say, “Hey, thanks for rotating the dishwasher while I helped that mom on the phone. You were a part of that ministry because you freed me up to do it,” his whole attitude changes. They want to contribute to the family. They want to make a difference.
All our boys will be leaders of some kind. Some of them will lead companies or churches or communities, others just their own homes, but they’ll need to be in charge. In boys, this tends to show up in two ways. Some boys shirk leadership because they’re afraid of failing. They need to be encouraged, supported and given small pieces of responsibility, then more as they show themselves faithful. Most younger boys try to take charge of everything around them and struggle with respecting their parents – even when they’re just five! The Word of God tells us, “If anyone desires to be first, he shall be last of all and servant of all,” so it’s right to teach our young leaders to obey. We just can’t leave it there; we also have to teach them to handle responsibility. It’s a challenge to me, even though half of our boys have grown and left home, but I have to remember what’s God’s making out of these guys. If I look at what’s pleasant or convenient to me, I’ll miss the boat and I won’t prepare them for the mission God has for them. That’s why we want to raise real men, God’s men, who are just as courageous to stand for righteousness in an art gallery as others may be on the frontline of their more obvious battle.
Pray with me,
Father, please help us to prepare these boys of ours to be protectors, providers, and leaders. Help us not to let our own convenience or sensibilities get in the way of what you’re doing in their lives, but instead to work hard to prepare them to be your men.
Our book, Raising Real Men: Surviving, Teaching, and Appreciating Boys, is the book we couldn’t find raising our own – Biblically-based, but also practical – helping us to know what these things look like in real life.
By His grace only,