Thursday, March 25, 2010
From Boys to Men, Part 2: Mentoring
Our culture enables weak, selfish, irresponsible boys. Boys who don’t have the slightest idea of what it means to truly love another. Boys who don’t exhibit the barest qualities of manhood other than having the requisite plumbing.
You can’t properly call them “men”, because despite their age they’ve only matured physically, not emotionally. Not spiritually. Think about it: Little boys are self-centered. Good men sacrifice themselves for the benefit and bettering of others. Boys are content to eat off their mother’s table and have everything prepared for them. Men provide for their families. Boys shirk unpleasant tasks. Men embrace “duty” as an honorable word and concept. Boys are governed by emotions. Men by wisdom.
Everywhere you go you will see boys that should have learned to be men long, long ago. In the store, on the street, even in the church. It is a plague on our culture. It is destructive to families. Furthermore, frankly, it is disgusting. How did we get to this point?
I suppose there are a great number of factors that went into the modern-day deconstruction of genuine manhood. But rather than get bogged down into theoreticals and hypotheticals, let’s hit one very simple, important, practical reason.
Specifically, a lack of mentors. Boys need a man to teach them how to become men. They need to be shown. They need to see genuine manhood played out before their eyes by a man who understands and values unique manly qualities. They need to be taught to turn a wrench and run a saw. They need to learn how to flip circuit breakers and how to mow a lawn properly. But more than that, in order to be genuine men boys need to see the masculine strength of humility, the manly compassion of personal service, the Godly process of wisdom. They need Men-tors. Men who have counted the cost of manhood and embraced it. Men who love being men and want boys to become real men.
What’s a mentor? The simplest definition is a man who takes a boy under his wing and shows him the way. No fuss, no frills, no program. Just find a boy and help carry him towards manhood.
Once I was at a garage sale and witnessed a man buying an old hunting bow. When I wished him good hunting with it, he laughed and said, “Oh, no . . . I’ve got one at home that I use. This is for a boy who doesn’t have one, but wants to hunt.” That man was a mentor. I picture him teaching the boy to shoot, to walk quietly through the woods, to read the sign and to bring home his quarry. But more important than that, he’s showing a young boy what it means to be generous with both his time and his money. He’s helping a young boy become a man.
Another man I know builds large, flying, model airplanes. You know, those gas-powered, remote-controlled ones that are so fun to watch. It’s not uncommon to see a young boy in his shop, listening to him tell stories of the old days, learning what makes a small piston engine go, and seeing the craft and care an old man puts into doing the job right. He’s another mentor influencing young boys towards manhood.
I recall yet another man who routinely sat down at his old roll-top desk in the evening and open his old, worn Bible. Without making a show of it, he’d read . . . he’d pray . . . and then more often than not sing a hymn. And on a lot of days there’d be a small boy sitting across the room, playing behind a chair, but always watching him with one eye. That man was my grandfather. And his own unassuming way he showed me what it meant to live out a quiet, personal, yet unmistakably all-transforming faith in Jesus Christ.
Fellas, young boys need your mentoring if they are ever going to become men. They can’t learn it on their own, because you didn’t learn it on your own, either. It’s time—beyond time, actually—that take mentoring seriously so that boys can be drawn into manhood joyfully.