If you've not heard of Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson, you've not been plugged in to modern culture. (I'm not saying that's a bad thing!)
The Rock is seemingly everywhere at once and it's easy to see why - he's charismatic, disciplined, rich, and ripped. The characters he plays are the ones many of our tween and teen boys look to and say 'wow - that's what a man looks like, acts like, talks like, etc.'
The Rock, however, was not always the hulking man he's become. His transformation came over a long period of time that included enormous effort, discipline, and single-minded focus. I don't know what type of man Mr. Johnson is but I salute his discipline.
Our young men can learn a great deal from his focus, sacrifice, and tenacity. If you want something and are willing to work your tail off, you have a shot at seeing it through. Not a guarantee, but a chance.
The Rock wasn't just talk a big game about becoming an internationally known entertainer - everything he did and does prepares him for the role. And that preparation is half the battle.
The Original Rock
Long before Mr. Johnson brought his brand of entertainment to the scene, another Rock developed over
time. Originally a poor, head-strong fisherman named Simon, he transformed into the man who would lead the way for the Christian church. We know him now as Peter, the first disciple.
While traveling through Judea, Peter and the other disciples had a first hand view of the miracles, the healing, and the protection of Jesus. Peter walked on water (for a step or two), witnessed Jesus convene with the long dead Moses and Elijah, and feed thousands.
After all this, Simon bits the bullet and says what everyone is probably thinking: Jesus is the Messiah. At this point, Jesus anoints Simon as Peter, the Rock on which He would build His church.
Can you imagine that? The Messiah - the Son of God, the man you've seen worked hundreds of miracles over several years - has said, "You. You've got this. When I'm gone, I'm leaving it all in your hands."
What do you say then?
The Crowing Man
I don't know what you would do but the Bible tells us about Peter's reaction. It goes immediately to his head! Out of his mouth comes a rebuke of Jesus and empty promises of faith and loyalty.
Rather than a rock, Peter acts more like a rooster, crowing for attention rather than standing firm. He follows this path all the way up to Jesus's condemnation by Caiaphas. And, outside in the court, a real rooster reminds Peter of his failure.
Peter has failed. He knows it. And, it destroys him.
The disciples panicked. They were lost, desperate, terrified. For the first time in many years, they were completely apart from Jesus and they didn't know what to do.
But, though they didn't seem to realize it, they had been prepared.
Prepared for Change
Jesus had been talking with his disciples for months about his impending death and resurrection. None seem to really believe Him. However, repeated messages have a tendency to leave a mark. And, considering all Jesus had said and done, one has to believe these men were starting to believe the impossible.
Then, all of the sudden, it happens. Jesus captured, condemned, nailed the cross and dies. Their leader is truly, completely and utterly gone.
Do the disciples pray for his resurrection? We don't know. We do know that they gather in secret. They are afraid for their lives. Then, on the third morning, news comes of a miracle. John and Peter race to the tomb to find it empty.
And then Peter steps up. After the three years of following, after all the bluster and brag is done, Peter is prepared to make a decision. He's going to follow - no matter what. And that decision, combined with the Holy Spirit, changes the world.
Our Changing Teens
We want our teen sons to be Christians. We want them to know the Bible, have respect for the Lord, and love their neighbors as themselves. And there are so many positive flashes - times when they are kind, helpful, thoughtful, and productive.
But yet, there are other times when they don't hit that mark. Instead, you see them being prideful, lazy, temperamental, greedy, narcissistic.... We love them so much and only want the best but, dang - how many times are they going to screw up?!
The more I think about it, the more our teens are like Peter.
Do you think Peter got annoyed with Peter? Probably not since He is all-knowing, seeing, and loving. He forgave Peter at the same time He predicted his failure. He knew that Peter would change and would lead the world towards Heaven.
Jesus had HOPE for Peter. And that informs how we should treat our teen sons - with hope and leadership.
We parents of teen boys need to prepare their souls as much as we can and then pray for their consistent, continual transformation into men who follow and love Christ.
So much will change for them over the coming years. There will be heartache and triumphs, fear and achievement, anxiety and confidence. Point them lovingly and train them intentionally in the way of Christ.
Do that and they've got a shot. It's not guaranteed but it's a heck of a lot more likely they'll come to Christ as Peter did - completely and wholly.
Remember, Easter is a time for transformation... and hope.