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I had a great chat with my oldest son last Wednesday morning at 6am as we waited in the parking lot of a local restaurant for the others to arrive at our weekly men’s breakfast. I thought of three areas that capture what I want him to consider in the next few years as he makes the transition from boyhood to manhood. Among many things, I want my sons to be thinking about –

1. Spiritual preparation
2. Vocational preparation
3. Marital preparation

Spiritual preparation.  I told my son that on the one hand I wanted him to believe all the same things that Mom and Dad believe and to live a godly life that reflects love for the Lord Jesus and love for others.  But on the other hand, we want his faith to be a reasoned, tried and tested faith that he owns and would die for.  The last thing we want is for him to launch out into the world just going along with what Mom and Dad always said and never asking and getting answers to tough questions that Christianity provides for him.  Will he believe?  Possibly not.  We do not know and we cannot see his heart, but we can encourage him to not just be a hearer of the Word, but to put his faith in the truths he’s so familiar with and to believe on the Lord Jesus for salvation, joy, peace and purpose in both this life and the next.  The spiritual condition of his heart and his orientation to Jesus Christ will affect every other area of life, for good or for bad, so preparing him in any other area without first ensuring this is top shelf, is an exercise in futility.

Vocational preparation.  Very important as well, is the reality of what skills one gains and what industry one decides to work in.  Assuming all immoral vocations are cast aside, I encouraged my son to think big and try out as many interests as possible.  Be willing to work anywhere and willing to do what some may consider the most menial job.  Never underestimate the power of faithfulness in every task, thoroughness in every assignment and follow up with a supervisor to check your work and received constructive criticism.  I want my boys to think seriously about where they will work as it will affect the rest of their lives.  Will they take a job purely based on pay?  Will the amount of travel be a factor?  Will they take a job that forces them into potentially compromising situations with other workers?  What about high-pressure sales or advertising jobs that may tempt them to lie or manipulate as a way to make a buck?  I want them to think about these things now so they don’t simply stumble into the workforce, land in the first cubicle that pays the bills and ten years later regret not preparing themselves better for their vocation.

Marital preparation.  I don’t mean purely preparation for his wedding day, but a preparation that encompasses his character, his skills, his attitudes, thoughts and approach to marriage and family.  Yes, I do want him to literally prepare himself for marriage one day, if the Lord gives him a wife, but moreover I want him to prepare his heart to love his wife with a selfless laying down of his life.  I want him to come to the realization that life isn’t about him, but about HIM.  I want him to see the blessing of children not as a drain on our materialistic desire to have the latest, greatest, biggest and best, but a blessing from the Lord (that is always ‘affordable’) and one to be enjoyed and nurtured.  I want my sons to properly see woman the way the Lord sees them; as blessed helpmates, gifted to dovetail into the strengths and weaknesses my sons will bring into the marriage.  I want my boys to love, cherish, date, care for, provide for, respect, esteem and lay down their lives (literally, if needed!) for the wives that the Lord gives them.

This is an ongoing process with the sons God has entrusted to me.  It requires intentionality, persistence, patience and wisdom.  Intentionality because there will always be something(s) else to distract me from making time to talk through these things.  Persistence because none of us ever get something the first time around.  Patience as I see much needed growth in both me and my sons before they are ready for adulthood and wisdom to know what to share and how to share it at the appropriate and most effective times while they are young.

This is why I have no hope save the grace of my Savior, Christ and his faithfulness to help me (Hebrews two:18) prepare my boys for manhood.  I’m lazy, I give up easily, I’m very impatient and I lack much wisdom.  But with the Lord’s continued intentionality, persistence, patience and wisdom pushing me forward, making me like Him, I have great confidence that He will accomplish all He has set out to do in both my life and the lives of my boys.