We’ve all heard the saying, “It’s not how you start, it’s how you finish.” How, exactly, do you finish well?
How do you release your son to the world knowing you did all you could? It’s lot easier to finish well if we start well. As mothers (and grandmothers) of boys, we have our work cut out for us to raise boys into men who will love and follow God. We must know where we’re headed so they can safely follow.
The book of Judges is one of the saddest books in the Bible. It’s a depressing history of a people chosen by God who continually missed the mark. Repeatedly it says “…and the men of Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord,” and “…there was no king in Israel: everyone did what was right in his own eyes.”
The Israelites missed the mark because they didn’t do what they were supposed to do when they entered the Promised Land. They were commanded to conquer and occupy the land by kicking out the Canaanites and the Philistines but they failed to obey completely and thus fell into idolatry. The sad story is in Judges 1:27-34.
Boys can be hard.
Boys can be rambunctious and strong-willed. Boys disobey and pretend to be hard-of-hearing. Boys will be boys. Our job is to take all that mad energy, the crazy chaos, the creative genius, and channel it into raising leaders, men who love the lord and know how to obey Him in order to be able to lead others. The only way our sons can finish well is if we point them in the right direction.
Here are 10 intentional steps you can take to help your sons finish strong.
- What you model they will follow. Everything you do is being watched. Everything. How do you handle anger? Manage stress? Deal with a crisis? Children watch us like hawks and what you do will be duplicated. In fact, children are little mirrors, reflecting back what they see. If our children know who God is, they will know who they are. The only way our boys’ identities will be rooted in Christ is if they see our identities rooted in Him first.
- Catch your boys in the act of doing things right. It’s easy to see the mistakes, the messy room, the disobedience. But make an effort to notice and praise the positive actions your sons are taking. Notice when they help out a younger sibling, obey quickly, do something without asking. Even though these might be expected in your household, take the time to notice and let them know you see not only the wrong but also the right.
- Discipline in private, praise in public. Build them up when others are listening. You have no idea how important your words are to your boys. They really do want to please you, especially when they enter the teen years. They may act like they don’t care or aren’t listening but believe me they do and they are! If the need arises for discipline, do it privately and with grace. You wouldn’t want your faults telegraphed to the whole world.
- Incomplete obedience is disobedience. The first requirement of leadership is submission to a greater authority. If your sons can’t obey you, how will they ever obey God? Learn the art of Godly discipline and be consistent. If you have no clue how to begin, find some older moms with sons whose behavior you admire and talk with them.
- Pursue purity first in your heart and mind and then teach it to your sons. See number 1 above. The world is getting darker by the day and the enemy has it out for our sons and grandsons. The devil is stealing the innocence of a generation of boys through online pornography. Be diligent and know what your boys are doing online. Know their friends and their friends parents. If they live in your house you have the right to their passwords and the right to pick up and read their phones or go on their computer at any time. Cell phones are a privilege not a right. Also, be mindful of the media you’re allowing in your home. There are no shades of gray with God.
- Don’t allow your sons to drift. Childhood is an innocent time of wonder and discovery and it desperately requires our care, nurturing, and firm direction. God will show you what He’s invested in your son. He’ll show you the gifts and callings deep inside and how to dig deep with Him and draw those gifts out. Partner with God to mine the greatness that’s lying dormant in your child. For your child to become all God has designed him to be means you must be willing to go the extra mile and not assume he will ‘figure it out’ when he’s grown. No one knows your child better than you and though you may not be a parenting expert, you’re an expert at parenting your child!
- Look for the oak tree in the acorn. In other words, don’t be afraid to dream big for your child and set the expectations high, but do it with discernment. God will show you where He wants to take him. Each of our children are born to do something, to leave a God-legacy to the next generation. As we seek wisdom for raising our children, God will show us their world-changing purpose.
- Consistency pays off. Stick to your guns and don’t be afraid to discipline with love. You are first and foremost a parent. Eventually you become a friend, but not at first. Set your mind for the long haul–the marathon, not the sprint.
- God handpicked you for your children and He handpicked your children for you. You are exactly who they need and they are exactly who you need! Raising children will cause more self-examination than just about anything else and that’s a good thing.
- Teach them to live like they matter. Help them navigate where they’re going, remind them they do have a destination and a big, God-sized purpose to live out.
Your boys are watching you and they will finish well if they know where you’re headed and can safely follow. How you live in front of them day by day and year by year will inform their concept of God more than any amount of Bible reading or scripture memorization or church attendance can ever do.
All these points add up to this: Our sons will find God’s purpose for their lives when we are diligent to lead the way with integrity and humility. And as we do, we will see our boys turn to Godly men who finish well.