Raising a Little Big Man

by Sheri Rose Shepherd

It was a picture-perfect evening by the campfire on a beautiful beach in Southern California. My precious 3-year-old son, Jake, and I were snuggled under a blanket, watching the sunset. As the waves gently lapped the shore, a young couple walked past us holding hands.

I'll never forget what happened next. Jake watched the couple, thought for a moment, turned his sweet little face toward me, and said, "Mommy, will you marry me when I grow up?" It was one of those moments forever engraved on my heart.

In that mommy moment, I realized the vast influence God had given me in my son's life. That night I got down on my knees and made a promise to God that I would use whatever time He gave me with Jake to prepare him to become a man who knows how to love a wife. My son is now older, and my training time is nearing an end. We often talk about his future bride. Even though we don't yet know her name, we've been praying for her and preparing Jake to be her husband, the man she needs, from the time he was a little boy.

World-changing power.

Most of us cannot imagine the world-changing power of one man who has learned how to love, lead, and understand his wife and family. Today's sons are being brought up in a generation where many boys have better relationships with their game boxes, televisions, and computers than they have with their families. Our sons are in a daily battle of the mind, being bombarded by conflicting messages everywhere they go and fighting to distinguish who they are and what a man is supposed to be. It seems they are educated in everything except what it takes to love a wife and lead a family.

But what if every bridegroom had a mother who had invested her life, not only in cooking and caring for her son, but also in carefully and deliberately bestowing upon him what every man desires to know: how to understand and handle the fragile heart of his bride? What if every groom walked down the aisle with more than a ring and some vows? Imagine how differently love stories would end if every new bride took the hand of a well-trained hero equipped for victory as a loving leader. How much more fulfilling the marriage love story would be if young princes were raised learning the art of loving their future wives.

From the time a son is born, there are many things a mom can do to nurture her little guy into a godly big man. Here are four life-changing ones.

1. Teach responsibility.

This is your chance to train your son about matters of the heart. To become a great husband, he must take responsibility for the way he treats and relates to girls and mommies. When your son does something to hurt you or any female, don't make excuses for him; instead, show him what taking responsibility for his actions looks like.

2. Teach him to pray.

When your son is struggling to understand you, his sisters, or his female friends, encourage him to stop and ask God for guidance. Remind him that God created women and that He promises wisdom if we ask for it - even about something as mysterious as the mind of a woman.

3. Help him tune in to you.

Train him to ask you every day, "How can I help you today, Mom?" This will create in him the habit of expressing love through acts of service. How many men do not help around the house and their wives feel taken advantage of rather than loved and cared for? It's never too early to train your son how to speak this love language.

4. Have him read to you.

It's great for you to read to your son from the Bible, but it will become even more real if you have him read God's Word to you. (Set a time at night or in the morning - whatever best fits your schedule.) Teaching your son to read God's Word aloud also sets the stage for him to take this leading role with his wife.

As a mother you cannot replace the father's role in your son's life, but with God's guidance and proactive nurture, you can help raise a modern-day hero who will fight for his family and remain a faithful, loving husband and father. God's intervention, combined with your unending prayers, intentional training and strong influence in your son's life, will help you empower and equip your next generation man to lovingly lead his wife and his future children. Yours is a powerful role.

"And she [Hannah] made this vow: ‘O Lord Almighty, if you will look down upon my sorrow and answer my prayer and give me a son, then I will give him back to you. He will be yours for his entire lifetime'" (1 Sam. 1:11, NLT).


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