I’m not just raising four boys. I’m raising four future men.
Men I pray will be leaders in their marriages, families, churches, and communities. I don’t question whether my sons will be leaders. As men, they will lead by default. The question is whether they will lead well.
Judges 2:16-23 provides the reader with an anticipation of what is to come—the pattern that will repeat itself over and over in the history of Israel’s judges. As we read further in Judges we quickly see that this isn’t just a cycle that repeats itself, but more like a downward spiral. Each generation is worse than the previous one. Each judge, unfortunately reflects the disobedience, cowardice, or corruption of his or her generation. These verses do not highlight any specific leader, but show how Israel continued to ignore the leaders they were provided. It reminds us of this important truth–to be good leaders, our sons must first be led by God.
How does God lead our sons?
1. God Leads Our Sons by Giving Them a New Identity (v.20) – God was angry at Israel because they transgressed his “covenant” (v.20). The prologue to God’s covenant with Israel is noteworthy: “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.” (Exodus 20:2) Before God uttered a single law, a single stipulation, He reminded them of His grace. God saves us first, then He gives us commandments to shape our lives.
When Israel ignored God’s covenant, they were forgetting who they really were–God’s rescued people, His chosen nation. When we see our sons slipping into sin, we can say, “Remember whose you are.”
2. God Leads Our Sons by Giving Them Commands (v.17) – When the judges appeared on the scene, they didn’t call Israel to something brand new. They called Israel back to the commandments God had already given them through Moses.
If our sons will ever become leaders, they must first learn how to be led by the Bible. They must follow Joshua’s example and meditate on God’s law day and night. (Joshua 1:8a) It’s good to teach our sons the discipline of meditation–rehearsing and reciting God’s words under their breath throughout the day.
3. God Leads Our Sons by Giving Them Living Leaders to Govern Them (v.18) – God raised up each judge to govern the land and set things in order. God has brought people in the lives of our sons to guide them–you, your husband, grandparents, and leaders in our churches. As much as possible, we should expose our sons to men who exemplify godly character.
4. God Leads Our Sons by Testing Their Faith (v.22) – Joshua didn’t finish driving out the nations in the Promised Land. God left some nations behind in order to test the faith of future generations. Each generation sadly failed the test.
God has sovereignly left us and our children in a world full of potential idols—the would-be gods of our culture that entice us. It is up to us to point out those things—even the good things in life—that can so easily ensnare our hearts and become our ultimate sources of happiness, stability, and purpose. It starts by us being aware of our own idols, and then being transparent with our sons about them. This will help them think about the potential idols in their own lives.