Manhood isn’t taught; it’s caught.
I’ve shared this concept many times as I’ve encouraged men to embrace their role as coaches to young guys. It isn’t really a foreign concept since most guys have had some type of coach in their lifetime. You may be remembering one from your past right this minute. Of course, not all coaching results in a positive experience, but you probably will agree that the influence of that coach has made a lasting impact.
As with coaching, fathering can also be either positive or negative. Since none of us are perfect, our fathering will probably include some of both. The question is, how can we minimize the negative and maximize the positive as we interact with our sons?
As the father of three sons (ages 36, 27, and 25), I have had to remind myself for years that my job is not to raise boys, but rather to raise men. The job never really stops; it just changes based on age and maturity level. As our sons mature and grow older, they will need a father’s influence in many differing ways. Learning how to influence them appropriately will be a life’s work for any father.
I can assure you that our culture needs men who know what the role entails. Unfortunately, we seem to be suffering from an overabundance of males who simply have no idea what practical and godly manhood looks like. In other words, we have too many boys, many of whom are in their 50’s and 60’s.
Manhood is something like a cold virus: the strain you catch is the same strain as the person you caught it from. So it is important for us as fathers to learn the type of manhood that God describes throughout scripture. If you were to grade King David’s fathering and manhood, he would probably have a near failing grade. But the New Testament refers to him as “a man after God’s own heart.” Abraham lied about his wife and caused her to be placed in the harem of another king. Not exactly stellar manhood, yet his faith was credited to him as righteousness. Having God’s heart and living in faith are essential elements of godly manhood. Actively cultivating these in your life will help you be the man your son should emulate.
Our society places a lot of emphasis on education. We seem to think we can educate our problems out of existence. What we may have overlooked in the process is the need for teaching (education) and instruction (coaching). God nuances this language as he tells mothers to teach their children and fathers to instruct them.
Instruction includes demonstration and practical application. In other words, the one being instructed observes the desired behavior during the instruction. When we instruct our sons to securely tie the boat to a dock, it includes a demonstration. The knot chosen may have been taught through a diagram, but the application is observed as someone else actually ties the boat to the dock. By observing a man’s behavior, a boy is instructed about how a man acts.
My coach has told me a number of profound truths over the years, but in my next post we’ll look at the one I have found to be the most impactful: “You will never father well until you have been fathered well.” In the meantime, keep at it. Learn as much as you can about the Father’s Heart and believe what He says is true. After all, faith is believing what God has said and then living it out daily.
Try it and watch what happens.