“He will grow out of “goofy” by it is hard to grow into courage.” A while back I wrote a post titled, “Look who’s at the door for my daughter…” because my oldest daughter is old enough to notice and be noticed by boys. I remember those days; in fact, when I was her age I was dating the girl who would be my wife in years to come. These posts are as much for her as they are for anyone. But, in accord with my God-given role and responsibility to guide my children through the vicissitudes of life, these posts are for me, too.
Courage is a must. Parents and children are like anyone else: we get sidetracked by nonsense. Just where do we rank the boy’s career aspirations? His choice of college? What he drives? These things are essential elements of the constellation of character qualities that the boy must have, no doubt. But at the center or (better) the core? Courage.
What does courage do? How does it impact the boy and why does that matter to me?
- Courage leads the boy to stand on his identity in Jesus Christ. “Who am I?” is a question that turns grown men into sobbing heaps. A young man will (he thinks) have the dog of life by the snout. Perhaps. One day that dog will loose his grip and sink his teeth into that boy, then what? Christ is the Rock upon which His people stand and cannot be moved. His grades, his looks, his failures, his income, his ambition – all these things flow from the point of the Cross and it takes courage to take hold. I see it all the time: dads and men who lack the courage to live with Christ.
- Courage leads the boy to stand against the sin that lurks in his own heart and threatens others (like my daughter). Does the boy see what I see? What my daughter sees? Will he recognize the darkness tha lurks in his heart waiting for an opportunity to strike? Or, does he fear his own heart? The world, the flesh and the devil are our historic enemies. James 4:4 tells me that we can’t be friends with the world and with God; courage leads the boy to be the enemy of the world. James 3:8 says that his tongue is full of deadly poison, poison that if he doesn’t stand against will sicken and harm my daughter. Of course, 1 Peter 5:8 says the devil prowls looking for victims – will he succumb? Will he lead others to succumb? Courage will say, “no.”
- Courage will lead the boy to stand firm in the midst of uncertainty. Just how much certainty is there in life? Job certainty? Nope. Health certainty? Nope. Relational certainty? Nope. Financial certainty? Nope. Certainty of peace? Nope. This is what amazes me about adults: we really think that we have control. We really think that our hands are the ones on the wheel. Even Christian men who should know better (based on clear texts like Matthew 6:30 or Psalm 135:5-6). Does the boy live with the reality of uncertainty? How does he deal with it? Will he crumble underneath failure? Will he hold to what is certain: Jesus Christ? He must have the capacity and willingness to run to the Cross as a scared son would run to his father in times of fear.
- Courage will lead the boy to take risks to follow Christ. All those who would say that Christ makes everything easier in life live in a dream land. Christ gives hope as no One else can do and it is a good thing, too, since He calls us to lives of sacrifice and cross-bearing. I mean, seriously, walking with Christ is like buddy-climbing a negative slope – the view is unparalleled but the work is grueling. Yet, the climb will end in what is truly incomparable. Is he willing to follow where Christ leads? Does he see himself as an instrument in God’s hands to do His bidding? No one older than 30 lives without regret; and those times of regret are usually populated by the fear of following Christ. “I did it my way” is the broad path to destruction and disappointment and it is cowardly.
- Courage will lead the boy to stand against the sins of his in-laws. I know me and I know that if he is unwilling to appropriately rebuke me, then we have a problem. To be sure, I know my daughter better than he does (in the beginning) but that doesn’t give me license to be a helicopter-in-law. I take “leaving and cleaving” seriously and when the boy witnesses our sin, if he has the courage to stand up and be heard, good. If he doesn’t, then, please: if he won’t rebuke me, will he rebuke anyone? My daughter? His meddling parents? His coarse-jesting friends?
- Courage will lead the boy to recognize that he’s just a boy. Boys and foolishness go together. How does a young man stray from the perils of foolishness? Step one is to recognize that he’s just a boy, a pup, a chump, a novice. These are young men who are hungry for mentoring and coaching. These men recognize that they are little better than teenagers and life is heavy so they approach men who have been weathered by life and have wisdom. I have personally been trained by such men and I believe my family and I have been spared much as a result. I was just a boy and (over time) I knew it. I know a man who once told me that a young man asked him for his daughter’s hand in marriage. My friend said, “no and here’s why…” That was a kick in the teeth, but that boy did not shrink back from the task and worked for 2 years to gain my friend’s trust and his consent to marry his daughter. That’s courage.
- Courage will lead the boy to be all that he should be. Listen, I was in the Army and I worked hard to “be all you can be.” The deprivation of all kinds, the gravity and weight of the mission, the constant threat of war…yeah, these harden a man. In the midst of it, though, fear might undo it all. You can put on the body armor of life and try to mask a quaking spirit – for a time it would work. Courage, though, carries a boy out of the estate of fear and into the exhilaration of freedom. Without it, he will never get there. And, those with him (like my daughter) will not reach there, either.
I can work with courage.