The Shaping of a Man

No boy is guaranteed the privilege of manhood because manhood is more than just physical maturity. It's a vision of faith, discipline, and masculine nobility that directs life choices and shapes the boy's core identity. Robert Lewis offers guidance and resources for fathers desiring to intentionally establish foundations for manhood into their sons.

Images of manhood and ceremonies

If you doubt the power of vision, flip on your television. Look at the images of manhood. Too often you see men who never grew into manhood. They are indecisive, selfish, and altogether shallow. They run around many of the responsibilities of genuine manhood. Here's the true reality: without an authentic vision for manhood, many adult males will spend their energies in self-serving, misguided ways.

Christian dads know what's at stake in raising boys, and they try hard to do right. But even Christian fathers need the power of a manhood vision to guide their choices in life and to help them raise their sons to be men.

In every major culture in history, men banded together to pass on a manhood vision and to celebrate manhood ceremonies with their sons. In our era, manhood ceremonies have fallen on hard times. If we went by cultural cues, we'd conclude that today's manhood ceremonies include activities such as chugging beer and mastering the X-box. For teenage boys, the only "manhood ceremonies" they ever experience are those they create for themselves. There is no man to guide and mentor them to manhood.

A Christian model of manhood

My manhood vision is based on the two most significant men in history: Adam and Jesus Christ. We all know what Adam did - or more precisely, what he did not do. When everything was on the line, he didn't take responsibility. He ducked behind Eve. Adam's failure was not just a moral failure, it was a manhood failure.

Jesus serves as the polar opposite to Adam. He faced challenges far greater than Adam, yet He held firm. His was a vision of faithfulness and nobility at all costs. Bringing together Adam and Jesus, we see that a good vision for manhood includes rejecting passivity, accepting responsibility, leading courageously, and expecting God's greater reward.

Sons need to hear this message from their fathers. Sons need words of encouragement, a focus on strengths instead of weaknesses. Sons need to hear how they can use their talents in positive, life-giving ways that match God's vision for manhood.

The manhood model at home

Sons need to see fathers modeling manhood at home, especially with the son's mother. How a man interacts with his wife teaches the son how to act at home. The son will copy his father from the earliest years. The son is like a blank template, waiting to be pressed in the proper shape.

If your son is already in the teen years or the relationship has been difficult, it's never too late for a fresh start. Sons want to connect to their fathers, no matter how old they are and no matter how badly you may have messed things up. If you have missed the mark with your son, now is the time to start anew. Go to a few Christian men for counsel. When the time is right, go to your son and apologize for letting your interests distract you from the relationship he needs with you.

Fathers, it's up to you to share the power of a Christian vision for manhood with your son. Nature won't do it for you, and our culture will only deposit a miscast vision that leads to regret. Take responsibility for raising your son. If you do, you'll someday know the satisfaction of watching your son drive off to college prepared - not just to take his classes seriously, but also to take the call to authentic manhood seriously.

Robert Lewis serves the executive director of Global Reach and founder of Men's Fraternity. He and his wife, Sherard, live in Little Rock, Arkansas.

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