Monday, November 21, 2011

Discipling Boys: From Boy to Man

Did you read about Jonathan, a boy left alone at the age of 15, in the Amazon jungle?

Chris Giovagnoni writes:

When Ann introduced you to Jonathan on Saturday she called him a child. I call him a man.
Jonathan’s mother abandoned the family when he was 4. And his father walked out of Jonathan’s daily life not long after.
Jonathan lived in the jungle with his grandparents when his father moved to the city to find work. But last year when death took his grandparents, Jonathan’s father didn’t return. He stayed in the city – with his favorite son – and left Jonathan alone to care for himself. 
Chris goes on later to write:

 In the midst of poverty, from a life of loneliness, Jonathan demonstrates a rare nobility. He stands tall.
Although his life is incredibly difficult, Jonathan is maturing personally, spiritually and morally in the Body of Christ.
When a boy needs comfort he turns to his mother, or he turns to things in this world. When a man needs comfort, he turns to the Lord.
When does a boy become a man?
He becomes a man when he needs to, regardless of age. For some, manhood comes at 15. For others, it may come at 50. And for a few, it may never come at all.
Courtesy of Compassion International:

I was first introduced to Jonathan on Boo Mama's blog. He stole my heart immediately. The next day, Ann wrote about him. Following that, Chris wrote about him in his piece "When Does a Boy Become a Man?" (parts of which I've featured above).

Since learning of this boy-man, I've spent many an hour contemplating how to get my own boys to become men, without this same drama.

It's tempting to think, throw your boy out into the world and let him fight his own battles. Boys become men by fighting their own battles.

Yes, men sometimes need to be warriors, but a battle doesn't define a man. A man is not primarily a warrior. And bravery? A man can be brave, but ungodly and irresponsible. So, neither does bravery define a man.

I love Chris' definition: When a boy needs comfort he turns to his mother, or he turns to things in this world. When a man needs comfort, he turns to the Lord.

What makes a man turn to God instead of his mother? What transitions him from boy to man? I honestly believe the Holy Spirit does it through simple and consistent lessons initiated by parents. We provide the opportunities for growth, and the Holy Spirit speaks to our boy's heart

Some ideas below, and please add your own.

~ Pray for your boy, that God will grow him up. Pray for parenting wisdom and strength.

~ Boys need to observe godly men handle everyday life decisions (father, uncles, pastors, friends).

~ Let him hear his father's prayers. Boys need to know that a man goes to God for strength--not to the world.

~ Treat him with respect using affirming words. Require respect from him. Require that sisters respect him also (sisters can be nagging of their brothers sometimes). Remember, men need to feel respected more than loved. Require him to watch out for his sister--loving her and protecting her.

~ Don't make life too easy. Let him know want and need without compromising his emotional or physical health.

~ Challenge him with increasing responsibility--each birthday, add responsibility either inside or outside the house. Teach the tasks and then hold him accountable.

~ Model how to do a personal devotional time and schedule it into his day. Perhaps give him his own prayer jar and write out a simple format to follow. For example:  Praise God, Confess to God, Thank God, then pray for each of the needs in the prayer jar. Next, assign a chapter from the Bible. The goal is to make devotional time a habit so that when your son leaves your home, he continues the practice. I believe the Lord will speak to our boys during this time. The Holy Spirit will take over and this won't be a chore.

~ Make him serve others in your own home (brothers and sisters, parents) and in the church and community. I believe the Holy Spirit will speak service into their hearts if we do our part (modeling this, and requiring it). Self-sacrifice--something Christian husbands and fathers must do regularly--must be practiced. The sin nature fights this but if we require it in childhood, it won't be so foreign to them when they leave our home. A boy will feel the rewards, courtesy of the Holy Spirit.

~ Model how to handle money (tithing and offering and saving) and give him some years to practice this, with your guidance. Don't bail him out when he makes mistakes, even if it means missing out on major events.

In parenting there are no guarantees. That's the hardest part of this journey: the unknown.

But if we rely on His strength instead of our own, we can't go wrong. We are nothing as parents without our loving, merciful Father raising our children for Himself. He does it through us, not because of us. 

Our posture must be this:  on our knees

What are your thoughts?

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