Sunday, July 31, 2011

Training Up Your Boys to Men

Vern S. Poythress wrote an excellent article in 1999 titled "How I Have Helped My Boys Boys Become Christian Men" which I recommend you print off and study.

He and his wife decided on a course of training (which lasted several years) leading up to a special ceremony, which they called Bar Jeshua.  The training covers critical areas for spiritual maturity:
  1. Knowledge of the contents of the Bible.
  2. Memorization of selected verses and passages of the Bible.
  3. Knowledge of the major teachings of the Bible (doctrine).
  4. Personal piety.
  5. Projects of service and mercy.
  6. Wisdom in dealing with various spheres of life.
The most interesting part for me was how they consciously treated their son differently once they declared him a man, though he continued to live with him:

What happens after our boy becomes a man? He has the privileges of a man. The privileges must be real and meaningful. This part is scary for Diane and me. But we told ourselves, "It is better to give our young man lots of freedom now, while he is still at home. At 14 he is still young enough to come and ask us for advice. He is young enough to know that he doesn't know everything. For him to explore under these conditions, when he is still in our home, is far better than waiting until he goes away to college and we don't see him or talk with him about all the challenges."
When our boy becomes a man, lots of changes take place in many areas, some big, some small. As a man, he no longer needs a baby-sitter. He can baby-sit younger children himself. He sets his own bedtime and rising time. He decides when he does his homework and how long he works on it. He decides what TV programs he watches and how long he watches. He can (at first with supervision) teach a children's Sunday school class. He participates in the "family council" when my wife and I discuss, plan, and make important decisions. He can buy and care for his own pet. He excuses himself from the table rather than being asked to be excused. He buys his own clothing, school supplies, and gifts. He pays rent once a month, based on an estimate of his share in the utilities, food, and other costs. And he has an allowance to match these new responsibilities! In addition, if I pay him to do an extra job, I pay him at a going rate-at least the minimum wage, and more than that for jobs that are demanding.
But even when our son is a man, he is still part of the family and still lives with us. We love him just as much. We kiss and hug him just as much. We play together. We have certain rules that we would have for anyone living with us, even people outside the family. We expect him to be at meals on time. We expect him to be considerate of other members of the family. If he goes somewhere, we expect to know where he is. On Saturday night we meet as a family and assess the week. We continue to talk with him about where he is spiritually. If we see sin in his life, we will exhort him as we would exhort an adult who was on intimate terms with us. We continue to encourage one another and teach one another as fellow believers in Christ (Col. 3:16; 1 Thess. 5:14).
Christianity, after all, does not isolate adults from one another, but puts them in the body of Christ (1 Cor. 12). In that body we are answerable to one another. So Ransom's freedom is not freedom for immorality. If I were to see my brother in Christ filling his mind with raw TV programs, or neglecting his homework, or even just staying up too late every night and then dragging in the morning, we would sit down and talk. We would ask, "Is this really wise for a Christian man?"

Read the whole article to get the details.  This is worth discussing with your wife, men!  And I would love to hear is there are corresponding examples for training up daughters to be Christian women.

You might also want to check out my article "What Fathers Should Teach Their Sons."

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