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Intentional Manhood

I’m a big fan of Tim Ferriss.

I’ve been listening to his podcast for a few years and get something really useful each and every time. I recently picked up Tim's new book - Tools for Titans – and it is full of helpful ideas. His attention to detail is incredible and the wisdom that can be gleaned from this book is impressive.

I highly recommend picking up a copy as, just like the podcast, I pick up something new every time I open it up. In reading Tim’s big points from Caroline Paul this morning, I had an ‘aha moment.’

Ms. Paul is a San Francisco firefighter, author and former member of the US National Luge team. This lady has overcome fear and given back to society in a ton of ways. While discussing the differences when raising sons and daughters, Ms. Paul says:

“With boys, there is an active encouragement – despite the possibility that they could get hurt – and guiding the son to do it, often on his own.* When a daughter decides to do something that might have some risk involved, aster cautioning her, the parents are much more likely to assist her in doing it.” (*emphasis added by me.)

I love the fact Ms. Paul is supporting the growth of brave women. There are very real problems our daughters face that we must continue to help solve. And, there are very real problems - different though just as detrimental - that our sons face.

I think the biggest problem our sons face is growing up into manhood on their own.

There is an African proverb I’ve run into several times: If the young are not initiated into the tribe they will burn down the village just to feel its warmth.

We are dangerously close to this situation now. Boys are dropping out, giving up, and failing to connect en masse. We no longer train our boys to be men – to balance responsibility with their desires. Worse, we fail to show them the joys that come along those responsibilities – raising children, building relationships, and sweating at something worthy.

We need to get back to the old ways of being intentional in raising our boys to become men. What’s the difference between what was done and now? As C.S. Lewis said. “the difference between the old and the new education being, in a word, the old was a kind of propagation - men transmitting manhood to men; the new is merely propaganda.”

Look, we are not going back to the farmstead to work next to dad and mom and uncle and cousin and learn what is expected of a good man. That time, for the vast majority of us, is long gone.

But, we can… we must… begin to teach the boys around us to become young men.

This hands-off approach to becoming a man has to stop. As columnist Kathleen Parker stated, have you ever seen a 16 year old learn how to be a good man from other 16 year olds? The prophet Ezekiel had something to say about this as well:

The word of the Lord came to me: “Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel; prophesy and say to them: ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Woe to you shepherds of Israel who only take care of yourselves! Should not shepherds take care of the flock? You eat the curds, clothe yourselves with the wool and slaughter the choice animals, but you do not take care of the flock. You have not strengthened the weak or healed the sick or bound up the injured. You have not brought back the strays or searched for the lost. You have ruled them harshly and brutally. So they were scattered because there was no shepherd, and when they were scattered they became food for all the wild animals. My sheep wandered over all the mountains and on every high hill. They were scattered over the whole earth, and no one searched or looked for them. - Ezekiel 34:1-6

Fathers, we have to take this part of growing up back from the helter-skelter experience of society. We have to pitch in, mentor, shepherd, and help build our boys into men. Too many of our boys have lost their way but they are not so lost that we can get them back.

Be intentional with your sons and those boys you influence. Their lives are too valuable for us to let them grow up on their own.

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