During my previous posts, I discussed some of the key values like love, patience, honor, and courage that us fathers should pass on to our sons in order for them to excel in their journey to manhood. This time I would like to key in on those inherent male ideals and natural strengths that can be difficult to balance as well as our roles in relationships.
Exude strength, assertiveness, and confidence. As boys and men, we have a natural instinctive drive for battle, “Blessed be the Lord my Rock, Who trains my hands for war and my fingers for battle.” (Psalm 144:1) Just this weekend I watched as my eleven-year-old son made a new friend. Within a very short amount of time, they were already wrestling, almost asserting their dominance like Rams head butting one another. Once that testosterone got built up, he focused his aggression on me and tried to take me down in a head lock after a couple of good eleven-year-old jabs at this old man’s abs (unfortunately not abs of steal anymore). Encourage that, please don’t temper it; competition, battle, and the will to challenge others are excellent forms of teaching them how to be good winners and losers, each battle is a lesson. As worshippers and warriors we are responsible for mentoring our sons to become strong men which also requires that we do so with a good heart; “Watch, stand fast in the faith, be brave, be strong … Let all that you do be done in love.” (2 Corinthians 16:13-14) This is why I mentioned that first and foremost is love; strength and aggression are vital traits of manhood, except without love in their heart they can easily lose themselves in fear and anger. As the great and wise Yoda once said: “Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.” — The Phantom Menace
In addition to that assertiveness and confidence, also teach respect, trust, and companionship. This is very difficult as respect and trust are most often “earned” through observation and action, especially when even we fathers are at risk of losing those values by making terrible mistakes. DO NOT LIE TO YOUR SON! Keep your word, protect his trust in you, it isn’t easily given back. Show consideration for others and their feelings, recognize another’s opinion even when you don’t agree with them, never disregard or disrespect someone because the day may come when you realize you were the one who was wrong… let your sons know that they will make mistakes, they won’t always be right, and respect others.
That advice leads well into relationship. I have a blood-stained ally who always reminds me, “Would you rather be right or happy?” Being right hasn’t yet worked out so well for me.
God put Eve here for Adam. Have respect for women as a confidant, a companion, our other half… together we are whole. There are thousands of studies, research articles and authoritative books on relationships. I would like to share two things that I have discovered: 1) love is UNCONDITIONAL and 2) never speak when angry. Situations WILL arise in which two individuals, regardless of how much alike or in love you are, can find uncommon ground that could lead to disagreement and poor word choice. “Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers.” (Ephesians 4:29) Review my first blog on love, patience, and forgiveness. If you love someone, there aren’t exceptions or conditions. When you’re less than happy with a situation or even angry with a friend, a girlfriend, or a spouse (especially a spouse) there isn’t an “easy way out.” Find a mutual friend, counselor, or pastor that has both of your interests at heart and can provide support and encouragement in reconciliation. Reconciliation starts quite simply if sincere with: “I am sorry” and then, “I love you.”
Relationships can be difficult but are worth every struggle, teach your sons to appreciate friendships and companionships as they complete us all. And just as with the other traits, it starts with us being the example.