This time of year I’m approached by numerous charities to make a professional contribution (i.e. donation). Sometimes a personal story is used to inspire. And sometimes the stories are sad tales of a neglected child. A boy who has no father. And so I’m reminded of the role men play in the lives of boys.
Pictured above is Max in the arms of his father. Cale will be the largest male influence on Max. Hands down. From Cale, Max will learn how to treat women by how he sees his father treat his mother. Max will see and learn how marriage works by watching his mom and dad interact with each other. He’ll notice when they touch, how they greet each other, how they show they care about each other.
Max will learn from Cale how important Church and God are in the home. He’ll know if other things crowd out spiritual things. He’ll learn how decisions are made at home. He’ll see how dad handles situations – good or bad. And he’ll learn.
Max will learn how to manage Cale, his dad. He’ll be able – as all kids are – to read the signs of dad’s bad mood, or happy mood. Will he run into his room, close the door and hide? Or will he sit on the sofa doing his homework unfazed? We don’t yet know, but he’ll find a way to cope. All children do.
Cale will likely teach Max how to drive. And he’ll learn how to talk to other drivers. I talk way too much when I drive so I’ll make sure Max doesn’t learn from me. I’ve got a son, Ryan, to prove it. Cale had best keep me and Ryan away from Max when the time comes to learn driving.
“Little pictures have big ears,” is an old-fashioned phrase used by folks of my grandparent’s generation. It means watch what you say and what you do around children because they mock what they see and hear. It’s quite true. Little pictures (children) do have big ears (they hear and see everything).
Men influence boys. Boys need the influence of men. Too numerous are the boys who have insufficient male influences for good. Most boys – even young men – need men to show them how to be men. Moms can teach an awful lot of great things, but it requires a man to teach a boy how to become a man. Problem is, the world is full of grown boys who never learned how to be men. There are too many homes where there is no dad, granddad, uncle or other positive male influence. There simply aren’t enough good men capable of passing it on. Or so it seems.
Dads don’t have the exclusive rights on influencing boys, but they surely own the lion’s share of responsibility and authority. Other men have a lesser share.
Grandfathers have some share. Great-grandfathers have a share. But so do uncles. (Pictured is Max in the arms of one such uncle, Ryan.) And these are just the men of the family who will influence Max – and all boys. There will be teachers, coaches, preachers (that’s Max in the arms of Ronny Wade below), men at church, at school, bosses, men at work – all the men in his life will influence Max’s learning to become his own man.
Max will likely hear his first cuss-word from the mouth of a man, or another male. He’ll likely see his first dirty picture because another guy showed it to him. He’ll see his first fist-fight at school, likely between two boys. Males will show Max the gritty side of life, the not-so-nice part of life. But on the good side, Max will remember sermons taught by men. He’ll learn church songs because of the men who lead them at church. He’ll learn public prayers from men. There are countless good things he’ll learn from the males in his life. Hopefully, the good things he’ll learn will prepare him to better cope with the evil things he’ll learn.
Like all boys – all children – Max is a live recording device. He’s taking it all in, even though he’s not yet able to process more than basic things. That will quickly change. Soon enough he’ll be able to process more information than the world’s grandest computer. His brain will grow and expand as he absorbs all the new information presented by the world. The world of men will largely determine the man he’ll become.
This means the men in Max’s life have to live responsibly. We have to be careful to make the recording in Max’s life the very best possible. It’s up to us to give him the right start, middle and finish of life. Lord willing, none of us will survive to see his finish. He’ll have to go that stretch of road without us. But by then, the work of the men in his life will likely be completed. We’ll have influenced him sufficiently to make him the man he’ll always be.
Begin with the end in view. What kind of man should Max become? Men, it’s up to us. And Max isn’t likely the only boy we’re influencing. Men influence boys. We influence boys to become the men we are. If we’re not the men we should be, then Max is sure to follow. We need to be the men God wants us to be so we can help Max be the man God wants him to be. It’ll be up to Max to learn and follow.