Part 1 of a 3-Part Series
The glory of sons is their fathers. – Robert Lewis
This is the first article in a three-part series on fatherhood, masculinity, and the irreplaceable role that fathers have in the task of guiding their sons into a proper sense of who and what they are to become as men.
When Does One Become a Man?When did you become a man? Ask ten adult males that question and you are likely to get ten different answers. Some would say they became a man when they reached a certain age. Some would say they became a man when they graduated from college or perhaps when they moved out of their parents’ house. Some would say it happened the first time they had sex. Some would say they became a man when they got married or when they had their first child. Others would say they became a man when their father told them they were a man.
In our culture, there is no clear ceremony or rite of passage that is designed to definitively demark a boy’s transition into manhood. As a result, many young men enter adulthood wondering how to make sense of their masculinity and they are only left with questions. What is their role? Where are their boundaries? What is their calling? For many men, these answers were never provided by their fathers. This can leave a tremendous void in a boy’s soul – and in the soul of the man he becomes.
True Masculinity is Bestowed from Father to Son
As Brian Molitor has rightly asserted, masculinity is not acquired in a vacuum. True masculinity is bestowed, from generation to generation, and only in the company of real men. This is accomplished through rites of passage, ceremony and intentional instruction, and mentoring throughout a boy’s life. And if a father doesn’t fill this role in his son’s life, someone less qualified will do it for him.
So what is a father to do? What is the best way to fill this important role in the lives of our sons? In his book Raising a Modern Day Knight, Robert Lewis has provided a social and spiritual framework to help us think about how to guide a boy in his journey from boyhood, through adolescence, into manhood. What follows is a three-part overview of Lewis’ three building blocks of masculinity.
Building Block #1: A Real Man Needs a Vision for Manhood
The first building block of a properly bestowed sense of manhood is a vision for manhood. This phase answers the question “What is real manhood?” Boys in this stage will learn four basic principles of real manhood from their fathers.
- Real Manhood Rejects Passivity
Principle One states that real manhood rejects passivity. All the way back to Adam (in the book of Genesis) men have had to fight the tendency to be passive in their work, their relationships, and in their spiritual lives. Many dads tend to just tune out when they come home from work. The stereotypical example is the dad who kicks back in his easy chair with a beer and a ballgame on TV and checks out. Real manhood is intentional and proactive. Fathers must model and train their sons to make the daily decision to reject passivity and to engage in the lives of others, whether in their families, on their jobs, or in their communities.
- Real Manhood Accepts Responsibility
Principle Two states that real manhood accepts responsibility. This is the opposite of passivity. A real man takes social and spiritual responsibility for his work, for his family, and for his own relationship with God. Families desperately need men who will provide for them, protect them, love them, serve them, and be present to them. But this cannot happen unless a real man rejects passivity and accepts responsibility.
- Real Manhood Leads Courageously
Principle Three states that real manhood leads courageously. Men were created to lead and a real man will lead by example. He will allow his passions, appetites, and impulses to be harnessed by the Holy Spirit in surrender to the word of God. Leading requires courage and it cannot happen unless a man rejects passivity and takes responsibility. A passive man cannot lead his sons into a proper sense of who he is as a man.
- Real Manhood Expects the Greater Reward
Principle Four states that real manhood expects the greater reward. A man who has rejected passivity, taken responsibility, and who leads courageously will have learned to forego instant gratification and will expect a greater reward in the future. This is not a joyless, trudging of the journey of life. It is rather a principled, disciplined life that slowly but surely fosters things that cannot be taken from a man – a good name, the respect of other men, and the admiration of his wife and family. These are greater rewards.
In the second article in this series, I will describe Lewis’ second building block of manhood: A real man needs a code of conduct.
What’s Next on Your Son’s Journey to Manhood?
Are you up against some parenting difficulties in your home? Are you at a loss about how to navigate the stormy waters of adolescence? Do you feel like you need some outside perspective on your relationships with your children? Are you dealing with problematic behaviors or increased conflict?
It’s never too late to begin making changes and parenting in a healthier, more proactive way. A father has an irreplaceable role in the life of his family – and particularly in the lives of his sons. That is true no matter his age or the age of his sons.
Christian Counseling is a Powerful Resource for Fathers and Sons
Seattle Christian Counseling has a number of experienced, trained, and caring counselors who know how to help parents and families deal with difficult issues, especially if you are looking for a counselor who can incorporate a biblical worldview into their approach to treatment. We have several locations throughout the Puget Sound region and a wide range of hours available to meet your schedule.
With the help of a Christian counselor who understands family and parenting concerns, you can begin to find the solutions you are seeking. Christian counseling can help you learn how to re-open lines of communication, rebuild trust, and provide new skills to deal with difficult problems.
Lewis, R. (2007). Raising a modern day knight. Colorado Springs, CO: Tyndale House.Molitor, B. (2004).
Boy’s passage, man’s journey. Lynwood, WA: Emerald Books.
The images in this article are courtesy of morguefile.com: “Dadlynjack_46.jpg,” by bandini and DSCF4120.JPG by RoganJosh