I think my son is turning into a man. Finally. (Big sigh.)
Just yesterday, for the first time, he drove solo into Parker from our home here in Elbert County, Colorado. Of course, Brenda and I were praying fervently. I called him on his cell phone to remind him to make use of his mirrors. So what do you know? He survived.
Now here he is surrounded by a virtual sea of 100 large cardboard boxes, preparing his next shipment for his latest online entrepreneurial endeavor.
It was six years ago that my wife was facing some challenges with our oldest son, not unusual for boys entering the junior high years. So we had a little talk about it in our bedroom one night. Seeing as I had been speaking about homeschooling around Colorado as executive director of CHEC and all, she thought I might like to try it.
Growing a Man of God
So I took responsibility for the homeschooling program for an eleven-year-old boy. Now after all of this time we have spent together in the car, in conferences around the nation, in hotel rooms, in committee rooms, in the office, or in the study down in the basement, the most surprising part of all that I learned was how much work it takes to grow a boy into a man of God.
The closer I got to him and the more time I spent with him, the more I could see the progress we had yet to make. It was overwhelming. But by the grace of God, I think we’ve made some progress.
Sometimes I would get a little discouraged because it seemed as though we were working on the same issues for years and years without making any progress. But his receptiveness to my correction and instruction was always an encouragement.
Over the last six months, I have seen a good deal more spiritual fruit in his life, which has been for me and his mother a sunbeam of light from the Father of lights.
Boys Not Growing Up
Recently one mainstream magazine reported that nearly 70 percent of young men are not grown up by 30 years of age (by one set of metrics), an index up from 30 percent in 1960.*
Young men 25 to 35 years of age are the only demographic making less money than they did in 1970, and they earn less than women of the same age in some metropolitan areas. They aren’t getting jobs. They aren’t getting married. They’re not having kids. They’re too busy playing games.
The problem is extreme and it is contributing to the unraveling of an entire civilization. It is one of the reasons that 39 percent of children are now born without fathers, up from 6 percent in 1960.
It is a major contributor to the ongoing demise of the economy and the character of a nation. Moreover, the massive rise in homosexuality in the last generation may be directly attributed to the failure of fatherhood.
In his book Bringing Up Boys, Dr. James Dobson ascribes the number one nurture factor in the incidence of homosexuality to “the lack of a loving and respectful relationship with a father.”
Homeschooling Problem Too
The problem extends into homeschooling as well, and in fact, I believe this represents the most prevalent and disturbing problem within the movement. Unless parents and leaders in the movement seriously grapple with this problem, we will see failure in many home schools as well.
In contrast to this abject failure evident everywhere now, I think what we need are young men of consummate vision, men of resolute faith, men of certain purpose, men of blameless character, men of cohesive thinking in their worldview, and men of mature stature, commanding respect of those whom they lead. Should anybody oppose such a vision?
Perhaps only those who have embraced the dysfunctional vision Newsweek magazine describes, the exponential increase of homosexuality, and role egalitarianism would despise it. But I say, who cares what they say. It’s far too late to schmooze the high priests and priestesses of political correctness when our economies, social systems, and civilizations are crumbling underneath us.
The Bible’s Vision
The Bible presents a gender-specific vision for the raising of sons and daughters. Assuming that God knows something about the proper raising of a young man, we find these as the basic constituents of a biblical vision for manhood:
- Take dominion over God’s creation according to His Law – Gen. 1:26
- Take responsibility for material sustenance for his family – Exod. 21:10, 1 Tim. 5:7,8
- Defend and protect the home – Deut. 20:1-5, Neh. 4:14
- Lead in the home – Eph. 5:23
- Be a sacrificial lover – Eph. 5:25, 28
- Be a spiritual leader – 1 Tim. 2:7
- Be a shepherd and resident theologian in the Home – 1 Cor. 14:34-35, Eph. 6:4
The Only Reasonable Solution
Before the industrial revolution, most sons had fathers. Occasionally, there would be men who would be willing and able to mentor and disciple young men. As far as I am concerned, there is no other reasonable solution to this problem (Matt. 4:21, Mark 3:14, 1 Sam. 17:15-17, 2 Kg. 4:18,19).
I often wonder what would have happened if I had not brought my son into my life and invested the thousands of hours into his upbringing over the last six years. As I watched my wife trying to deal with the challenges of raising a boy to a man, I really thought that I could do something about it.
Here was a boy with so many foibles, sins, misplaced energies, pride, and self-centeredness. Here was a boy who looked a lot like me in so many ways. Here was a boy that I could handle, I thought.
As I looked at him, I could think of nobody on planet earth who could have so profound of an effect on the life of one little boy that one solitary man. And that wasn’t a day school teacher, that wasn’t a youth pastor, and it surely wasn’t his mother. It was I. As I watched my wife working with him, it was as if she was trying to frame a wall with a six-ounce hammer — dink. Dink. Dink. And I was standing there with a 90-psi pneumatic hammer, with so much more potential to make a substantial impact in the life of that boy.
It was as though God was pointing at me, saying, “You’re the man. Take this boy and make him a man.” While not every father is called to do precisely the sort of things that I did with my son, it is still incumbent that fathers everywhere find ways to build relationships with their sons, and do the discipleship work necessary to raise their sons to be men of God.
Apprenticeship, Mentorship, Entrepreneurship
We have started an Apprenticeship, Mentorship, and Entrepreneurship program (www.ameprogram.com) to help address this major problem that is only getting worse by the generations.
Beginning this year, I am also planning to initiate a Shepherding Center that will provide opportunities for apprenticeships, discipleship, and training, in order to prepare men to be godly leaders in home, church, and society.
Unless and until men step forward and volunteer to mentor young men, we will continue to see future families and society as a whole languish. The failure of manhood marks the end of a social system. May God help us to raise boys to be men.
*Newsweek, August 30, 2008, Why Young Men Delay Adulthood, http://www.newsweek.com/id/156372