Even before I had children the Lord began to stir in my heart a strong desire to raise godly children. When I found myself with two boys of my own I began to realize the difficulty in completing that task. The Lord began to lead me towards developing a plan for my fathering. I had a plan for my business, a plan for my ministry activity, even a plan for my civic responsibilities, but I didn’t have a plan for my parenting.
Working with my wife, I began to visualize the type of men we were hoping God would shape in our boys. Then, once we had a vision, we started to set goals and make plans to realize the dream. If we want our boys to be honest, for instance, then we must create situations which gave them the opportunity to make a choice between honesty and dishonesty. Then we walk through that learning experience with them, applying grace or discipline where needed. Each year we re-evaluate their individual needs in the area of spiritual and social maturity.
At the age of 12, I began a yearlong study with each boy on what it means to be a godly man. We discussed things like moral purity, sex, and commitment in marriage, and commitment to Christ. It wasn’t the first time we discussed these issues, but we were more definite in our effort to answer some of the deeper questions of life.
When each boy turned 13, he and I went out of town for a night and day. We began our time by each of us writing out answers to a series of questions that I had developed, all relating to manhood. After the “test”, the boy was allowed to pick an activity for the evening. One boy picked a steak dinner and the other decided he wanted to attend a baseball game. When we returned to the hotel we began to answer the questions. Our overall intent for the time was to answer one question, “what does it mean to be a man?”
Returning home my wife was prepared for us to host a few carefully selected couples who had been influential in our lives or the lives of the boys. Each was given an assignment to write a letter to our son expressing what they believe it means to be a man, specifically a man of God. After dinner, we all gathered in our living room and each couple read their letter to our son. We ended the event with a prayer commissioning the boy to Biblical manhood. At this point there was not a dry eye in the room.
These years of preparation have provided fruit that has lasted through their teen years. As Jeremy turns 20 today I know that he is prepared to be a man. Don’t misunderstand me. My boys are not perfect, and they will surely make mistakes in life, but I am confident they have an understanding of what it means to godly men. I am trying to model those principles for them in my own life, and continuing to disciple them in the ways of Christ. I recognize the importance of passing along the legacy of Christ to my children and I realize that this will not happen by accident. It will require a vision, some goals, and proper planning and implementation. As spiritual leader in my home, I know it is my responsibility to see that this is implemented.