The Beatitudes and Raising Boys

The word beatitude is translated, “blessed are.” The word means “happy.” The idea is not that we are simply happy in the sense that we are happy after a good meal or after we have laughed at a funny joke. It refers to a deeper happiness, a happiness that comes from peace with God. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus challenges his listeners and us as well. As you read the Beatitudes, you might be thinking that this is an odd list of traits.

Typically, Christians want things like the fruit of the Spirit or other traits such as honesty, humility, and reliability. Those are definitely traits that we should strive for. However, the list that Jesus gives in the Beatitudes is quite different. This should lead us to ask, what is Jesus really saying here in this list? Is Jesus saying, the blessed person has these eight traits: they’re poor, they mourn, they’re meek, they don’t assert themselves, they hunger and thirst for righteousness, they’re a peacemaker, they’re pure in heart, they’re merciful, and they’re persecuted?

This is not a list that you hear fathers talking about with their sons.

“Great job being poor in spirit today son!”

“Excellent work being merciful today son!”

“I am so proud of your peacemaking skills!”

You don’t hear this because we are wired as a society to raise boys who are tough, hard-nosed men. While those are not necessarily bad things, they do tend to take our attention away from other critical areas. As fathers, we need to be raising sons who are aware of their sin. Jesus says in the beatitudes that the starting point in the kingdom is to know that you cannot rely on yourself, to know that your spirit is poor. You cannot be good enough, strong enough, and righteous enough to make it on your own before God or in His kingdom. If you recognize your own spiritual poverty, you will mourn over it, and that will lead you to be meek. Our sons need to be taught this and they must see it in our own lives.

Are we more concerned about raising athletes and students than we are about raising future men that hunger and thirst for righteousness? Are we modeling a life of mercy because we have been shown mercy by our Savior? Are we waging war with the culture to make sure our boys are striving to be pure in heart? I pray that we do not get so wrapped in the world’s picture of manhood that we forget what Jesus values as important.

True Friendship According to 2nd Grade Boys

Our virtue this month at PDS is the True Friend. Stephanie Taylor’s 2nd grade class came up with the following definitions for true friendship. I thought they were worth sharing. I am so thankful for the opportunity to lead our Building Boys, Making Men Program where we strive to teach our boys what it means to be a godly man and how that fleshes out using our 7 Virtues of Manhood.

Friendship is having the courage to…

do the right thing when no one is watching.

lay down your life for one another.

follow your dreams.

stand up for someone else.

help others up.

do what you say.

help someone when they are sad.

say your sorry.

have compassion when someone is hurt.

go play with someone who doesn’t have anyone to play with.

be nice.

forgive.

help someone even if they say they don’t need any help.

make mistakes.

jump off something 14 feet tall before another to show it’s not scary.

be willing to try new things.

be faithful.

help others when they need help.

help someone even when you don’t have.

stop someone from bullying another person.

Are you asking the right questions?

What is the first thing you ask your son when you pick them up from school?

I often tell parents that question is a very good indicator as to what they value. It also leads your son to think that this is what you are focusing on with them. We make a huge mistake as parents when our first question is focused on performance. I think we often ask about grade and homework before we ask questions of the heart.

Performance based questions immediately put our boys on the defensive. Think about it from his perspective. He has been through a great, normal, or terrible day and the first thing he is asked about is the very thing he just spent an entire day focusing on. What are we saying to our boys if we are asking performance based questions. We are saying his performance is more important than his heart. We are parenting towards the wrong report card.

Fathers, we need to make sure we are parenting by the right report card. How would our parenting change if we graded our boys on the following standards?

  • Are our boys growing in Christ and spiritual maturity?
  • Are our boys discovering, developing, and using their gifts for the glory of God?
  • Are our boys pursuing a God-centered vision of life?
  • Are our boys engaging in worship, study, prayer, and ministry?
  • Do our boys have a clear vision for godly manhood?
  • Are our boys living courageously in a culture that pressures them to conform?
  • Are our boys engaging the culture for the sake of the gospel?

These are the questions that we need to be asking ourselves and the questions that frame how we talk to them after school. I pray that these questions will motivate you to think about the strategic parenting plan you have for raising your boys. Our world needs a generation of fathers who are willing to parent their boys by God’s standards and not their own.

Are you asking the right questions? Are you focused on performance or matters of the heart? What does your son think is the most important thing to you? How we frame our questions speaks volumes about what we value.

Can you and will you answer these questions?

I asked this question to seven boys this morning: If you could have one question answered about the journey ahead, what would it be?

Here are their questions:

1) How is life different as a man?

2) What does it mean to be a godly man? What does that look like? (two questions I know; he is an overachiever)

3) How will puberty affect me?

4) How do your emotions change as you get older?

5) How much more stressful is a job than school?

6) What will my future wife think about me?

7) How do I handle adversity?

I thought these were great questions and give us great insight into what boys are thinking when it comes to the journey ahead. I also think it is a challenge to fathers to make sure they can answer these questions in the context of what it means to be a godly man. This means that we have to be proactive in our parenting.

We cannot just sit back as fathers and answer questions as they ask us. While those will inevitably occur, we must make sure that we stay ahead of the game. If we can cast vision for the journey ahead before certain situations actually occur, our boys will be better equipped to navigate it. If we are parenting future husbands and fathers, we must teach with that in mind. Trust me, you do not want your son to have his vision of manhood shaped by the culture. Don’t let the culture answer these questions for your son. He needs and wants to hear these answers from you.

Can you and will you answer these questions for your son? Take the initiative today for the benefit of your son.

 

Do you like transition?

The more I am around boys of all ages, the more I am convinced that there are two definitive seasons of parenting: the season of instilling values and the season of allowing your boys to try out their own values. I think that there are some key mistakes that we make in both stages.

Mistake #1: We do not have a strategic plan for instilling values and we are not intentional in teaching those to our boys. If we are not thinking with the end in mind, then we will fall into the cultural trap of reactive parenting only.

Mistake #2: We fail to model the values that we are trying to teach our boys. I always try and remind myself that I cannot cast vision for something I am not willing to model myself.

Mistake #3: Our primary goal continues to be control and safety when it should be moving towards maturity and independence. I understand that this walking a fine line but I think we must constantly parent towards preparation for the future seasons of life. We are raising future husbands and fathers.

What are your demonstrated priorities? What would your son see as your priorities?

These questions must be answered before we begin to talk about transitioning from instilling values to letting our children try out their own values.

Here are some helpful suggestions for this key transition. Think of them as boundaries for reasonable independence.
1) Control what you can really control.
2) Make sure there are no surprises in your rules and expectations.
3) Give them the “why” behind your expectations and your decisions.
4) Map out a plan of transition so they know very clearly when your expectations and their responsibility for decisions will occur.
5) Realize sometimes that you have to be the bad guy.
6) Take advantage of the time to teach through decisions while they are still under your roof.

How are you doing with transition? My prayer is that we will all embrace our God given opportunity to raise boys into godly men.

 

One Word Tradition

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One of my favorite family traditions occurs a few days before school. Each year we sit down as a family and I give each of our kids a word that will be their focus. I think and pray about what word would best fit their personality, what area they might need to improve in, and what would present a challenge for them. I explain the reason why I chose the word and present them with a sign to put on the wall as a reminder. I have found this idea to be a great way for Carrie and I to be intentional with our kids throughout the year. It also helps facilitate great dinner conversations during the week. I would encourage you to find ways to be strategic and intentional with your family as the school year begins. The time goes by fast so make the most of it.

Here are the words for our three kids this year. I pray that they can be an encouragement to you on your quest to be a strategic parent.
Oldest Son (16)
Focus: a center of activity, attraction, or attention; a point of concentration

Philippians 3:13-14
Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

Middle Son (11)
Adaptable: able to change or be changed in order to fit or work better in some situation or for some purpose

Romans 12:1
Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.

Daughter (6)
Blessing: approval that allows or helps you to do something; help and approval from God; something that helps you or brings happiness

Colossians 3:23
Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord

 

Just Like Me

Make no mistake about it, being a father is not an easy task. Not only can fatherhood be a difficult assignment, but it can be down right frustrating at times. Our kids know just how to push our buttons. Unfortunately, if they are anything like me, that skill will sharpen as he moves into their teen years! Their escapades have ranged from mistaking my “come here please” for “run from Daddy with all your might.”

Why doesn’t this child listen, I often ask myself. How many times have I said,
“Don ‘t do that son”, only to be met with a complete lack of obedience. Will this child ever listen? Then it hits me like a ton of bricks. My son is just like me. How many times has Father said, “Don’t do that son”, but I do it. “That’s not what you have been taught son”, but I continue to disobey .What kind of reaction does this disobedience garner? Does God lose His temper with me or raise His voice in exasperation? Thankfully, He does not. He showers me with an abundant grace. The minute I repent, it’s as if my wrong doing never happened . I am clean in the eyes of my Father.

Fathers, are we not called to show the same grace to our kids as our heavenly Father shows us? What if God quickly lost His temper every time we went astray or disobeyed? If you are like every other human on this planet, you might not ever get out of trouble. If we can only give our kids a glimpse of the unconditional love of God and the concept of true grace, they will be better equipped to accept it.

Now go and build that bond that is so special between a father and son. Love unconditionally and show grace and mercy in your discipline.

Teaching Our Boys to Live with Passion

Manhood: A real man glorifies God by seeking an adventuresome life of purpose and passion as he protects and serves others.

 

A critical part of the manhood definition that we are teaching our boys revolves around the word passion. I think we often set a bad example for our sons by living a life that seems to be dull and boring. Our sons should never equate being a follower of Christ with the word boring.

 

“We are caught up at a particular state in our national ethos in which we are not only materialistic but worse than that; we are becoming emotionally dead as a people. We don’t sing, we don’t dance, we don’t even commit sin with much enthusiasm.”

-Tony Campolo, sociologist

 

There is nothing more motivating than to see someone doing something with passion. It can be someone who is passionate about his or her job. It can be someone who is passionate about there country during the World Cup. It can be someone who is passionate about a particular cause. There is something about the person that you draws you to them. Although the previously mentioned examples are good, is that what we should be truly passionate about? Our passion for what we say and do should flow out of our passion for Jesus Christ. How we think, how we act and how we serve should stem from our passionate love for Jesus. Jesus was so passionate about us that he endured great pain and suffering on our behalf.

 

“Anyone can dabble, but once you’ve made the commitment, your blood has that particular thing in it, and it is very hard for people to stop you.”

-Bill Cosby

 

“The most powerful weapon on earth is the human soul on fire.”

-Field Marshal Ferdinand Foch

 

Can you imagine the impact our sons could have on the city if our fathers and their families’ souls were on fire for Christ? Romans 12 urges us to be “living sacrifices.” This idea is counter-cultural. We live in a society that wants something for nothing. We have athletes that want to skip the hard work of training and get ahead by using performance-enhancing drugs. This is just one example of many. God wants us to give up what the world values as important so that we can be passionate about the things that He values. This comes at a price. It might not be popular but it does have eternal value. May we all “no longer conform to the patterns of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is-His good, pleasing and perfect will.”

 

 

A Scriptural Code of Conduct for Boys

Are you casting and modeling a vision for what it means to be a godly man? Are you providing your sons with a scriptural framework to help guide him through the process?  Let’s look at what God’s word has to say about what it means to be a godly man. Let this serve as your “code of conduct” for this year of teaching your son.

 

A scriptural code of conduct for teaching your boys what it means to be man:

1)          He takes responsibility (Joshua 24: 15)

2)          He takes initiative and is not passive (2 Corinthians 8:17)

3)          He leads with courage and passion (Psalm 31:24)

4)          He enacts justice on behalf of others (Micah 6:8)

5)          He is uncompromising in integrity (Proverbs l 0:9)

6)          He is intentional and not impulsive (Psalm 38:15)

7)          He trusts God for future reward (Hebrews 11:26)

 

Joe Ehrmann in his book, Season of Life, makes a strong statement about problems with boys and men. Ehrmann says, “All these problems I’ve been trying to deal with, they’re not just problems, they ‘re symptoms. They ‘re symptoms of the single biggest failure of our society. We simply do not do a good enough job of teaching boys how to be men.”

 

“If we do not get some kind of clear and compelling definition of masculinity at home, then you’re pretty much left at the mercy of this society and the messages that are going to speak to masculinity and manhood ,” says Carter Crenshaw, pastor of West End Community Church. Are we learning what it means to become a man from the world or from a godly home? How are we doing at developing this code of conduct for our boys? I hope we understand that it is not about just getting our act together but about bringing our act before God and asking Him to work in our lives.

 

Prayer: Lord Jesus, may we look to your Word for guidance into becoming a godly man. May we adhere to the code of conduct that you have established in Scripture. May we all seek to bring ourselves before you daily and ask for forgiveness for not serving you with our whole heart. Amen.

Are you a Humble Hero for your son?

“Humility is the most difficult to fall virtues to achieve; nothing dies harder than the desire to think well of oneself.” -T.S. Eliot

“The only hope of a decreasing self is an increasing Christ.” -F.B. Meyer

“Humility is the proper estimate of oneself.” -Charles Spurgeon

Teaching our boys to be humble is difficult in our society. Our society continually inflates the egos of athletes, actors and others. No wonder our culture has a hard time being humble. We live in the wealthiest country in the world and most often have everything we think we need. Although success in itself is not a bad thing, when we begin to think of ourselves better than we should it can become a downfall.  If we want to teach and model humility to our boys, we must know what it means to be a Humble Hero and how to model that for them. A scriptural look at humility gives us good insight into the DNA of a Humble Hero.

A Humble Hero is teachable. Proverbs 9:8-9 says, “Do not reprove a scoffer, or he will hate you, reprove a wise man and he will love you. Give instruction to a wise man and he will be still wiser, teach a righteous man and he will increase his learning.” A Humble Hero is also God-reliant. We must put our complete trust in Christ and realize that our reliance upon Him will decrease our reliance upon ourselves. A Humble Hero also has a good reputation. Proverbs 29:23 says, “A man’s pride will bring him low, but a humble spirit will obtain honor.”

Do your boys see you being a Humble Hero? Modeling it for them will first require you to take a thorough evaluation of your life. Are you more concerned about your popularity than your character? Do you think you know it all or are you teachable? Are you putting your trust in Christ or something that you can control?

Don’t cast a vision for something that you are not willing to model yourself.

Father God, may we all strive to be humble servants of you. May we glorify you daily by putting you first in our lives. Give us the wisdom to live a life of humility for you. Amen.