Boys to Men
by: Dr. Bruce Goddard
I raised my boys to give orders, not to take them.
This statement is a rough one to start the article, but follow my thinking for a moment:
We are all different, by training and by our very nature. I remember when Kobe Bryant joined the Lakers. He was just eighteen years old. He moved from high school basketball to starting in the professional league — that is not because of good coaching, good conditioning, or good anything. God made some people different from others.
Obviously, good coaching and training improve what we are; both our training and our basic makeup affect what we are and what we become. General Patton used toy soldiers to relive historic battles. He would study formations and battle plans while most boys were still figuring out fractions. From his childhood, he was different from other boys. God makes us for a purpose, and sometimes He ordains someone for greatness.
Parents and leaders do have some bearing on the results of child rearing; otherwise, there would be no need for leadership. While I cannot make my child into something he is not designed to be, and a teacher or coach cannot reshape an intellect or a super athlete, training does matter. The issue at hand is that we are not allowing our boys to be trained to lead. Some people may lead a small business or their home, but all will lead to some extent. Some people are designed to lead great hosts of people, while others may only be equipped to lead a few; but all people need to be allowed to learn to lead.
Look at the youthful years of David’s life. Although he was not old enough to go to battle yet, he was mentally equipped in his early teen years or younger. He faced a bear and a lion alone, because it was his duty. He had a job and responsibility that was serious and included risk and danger. We do not want our children to face any of these things, yet they are the things that develop manhood and leadership. There would have been no mighty King David without his early days of training.
1 Samuel 17:34 says, “And David said unto Saul, Thy servant kept his father’s sheep, and there came a lion, and a bear, and took a lamb out of the flock:”
Verses 36-37 continue by saying, “Thy servant slew both the lion and the bear: and this uncircumcised Philistine shall be as one of them, seeing he hath defied the armies of the living God. David said moreover, The LORD that delivered me out of the paw of the lion, and out of the paw of the bear, he will deliver me out of the hand of this Philistine. And Saul said unto David, Go, and the LORD be with thee.”
Notice where David placed his trust. “The LORD that delivered me…” Had mom been there to protect her boy from any difficulty, he would never have learned to trust in the Lord.
From the early childhood years of my boys, I trained them to be men and leaders. Early in life, I was helping my boys know how to make decisions. I worked to set up situations in which they had to think and to make decisions. In early childhood, I dropped off my son at the door of Payless Shoes. I asked him what kind of shoes he needed: church, school, or play. I asked him what kind HE thought HE needed. I told him I had to do something and that he was to pick out shoes and I would come into the store soon. I drove to park the car (within sight of the store) and prayed he would think about his decision. After a while, I walked in and asked what he had picked out. Hundreds of times in child rearing, I planned and prepared situations in which my boys had to face life, think through the situation, make unaided choices, and then face the consequences of their good or bad decisions. Many times, I would let them make poor choices and allow them to see how badly it turned out so they would learn from the bad choice.
Let us get back to my point: I trained my boys to be leaders; leaders in their home, in their church, and on their job. I have nothing against the minimum-wage earner, but I did not train my boys to be one (at least not for long). I have nothing against someone being the follower; in fact, I insisted my boys learn to listen and to follow whether in sports or yard work, but I had no intention of them staying a follower for life.
Overbearing parents have trained boys to be wimpy, anemic, indecisive followers. Overbearing teachers and yard supervisors have taken away a boy’s training time to develop leadership. Too many organized sports in our world have robbed the boys’ chance to stand in the field, choose captains, pick teams, and find out some boys did not get picked or were picked last. We have too many “no loser” thinkers in leadership over our boys. Let me assure you, in life, there are losers; there are folks who do not get the job; there are people who get cut from the team, and there are some children who should be held back in school until they learn the required material before progressing to the next grade. When is the last time you heard of a student flunking a grade? It rarely happens anymore. We are not rearing smarter kids; we are putting stupid people in leadership who rob our children of drive, independence, and initiative.
I am not writing this just to parents, but to teachers, ministry leaders, and coaches. Let boys face difficulties. Let boys end up in situations in which they have to make choices. Let boys make poor choices, and allow them to live with that choice. Stop telling children everything they are supposed to do. Stop hovering over boys and ordering their every move. Let them be young men!
Consider Hannah in 1 Samuel 1-3: She brought her miracle boy to the priest after he was weaned and left him there in the hands of a man who had failed in rearing his own two boys. She faced a risk; but, without that risk, Israel would never have known the giant of a leader, Samuel.
Think and prayerfully work with the young men you are training because you are training men, not boys. If we do not train men of decision and strength, who will pack up and go to foreign fields? Who will go start churches or businesses if we fail to train men?
Leaders, think; the future of nations lies in the hands of the boys whom you do not even allow to choose teams for dodgeball.
Dr. Bruce Goddard
Faith Baptist Church