Lessons from Fathers to Sons

In 2011 Southern Seminary began an internal publishing house, not unlike what many other universities have. It provides an excellent opportunity for members of the seminary community to have their works published within the confessional boundaries of the seminary and its mission to reach the nations with the Gospel. One such book written was Stand Up: A Guide to Biblical Manhood. Written by Dan Dumas and Randy Stinson, this is a book I would wholeheartedly recommend to pastors, youth ministers, small group leaders, but more so to dads.

Can I share with the dads from my heart as a dad? There is a definite war against raising young boys to become men. So much in our day wants to remove their natural ambition, their drive for competition, their unhindered energy (evidenced this morning by our 20 month old son running laps around the area rug in our den while screaming), and their need to lead. Instead, our society expects boys to sit still in rows for hours of instruction and if they don’t, we drug them up until they do. That’s another post for another day. But my challenge to dads is this: raise your sons to be men, men of God who love well, who sacrifice much, and who work until exhaustion for the glory of God and their family.

Stinson and Dumas have an excellent list in their book on p. 89 of 25 things a dad should teach a boy. Here is the list, with any comments I have in bold:

  1. Speak in public, there’s power in the spoken word [And also, teach your son to speak well and be able to write, the need for being to able to communicate clearly has not disappeared simply because you can email easier than speak. Public speaking prepares young men for leadership because they must stand and be counted. Doing it well is a testament to their preparation and seriousness]
  2. Read good books, leaders are readers [Have them read classics and good novels. Let them read Tom Sawyer, Sherlock Holmes, biographies about great men in history like Washington, books about treasure hunting and exploration, and other books to capture their imagination. If necessary, ditch the television and let good books capture your son’s mind rather than some mindless dribble]
  3. Play an instrument, especially because of the discipline required [Yeah not me, Mr Tone Deaf. But encourage them to try at least]
  4. Play individual, two-person and team sports [Encourage team sports like soccer, basketball, baseball and football, and teach your son to swing a golf club – more business deals and other important decisions are frequently made while standing in a fairway bunker]
  5. Build a fire [Whole thing, help them collect wood. Teach them the difference between tinder and kindling. Then sit back and roast hot dogs and bask in your achievement. Afterwards, clean up your campsite and leave only footprints]
  6. Camp out – pitch the tent, cook stuff over the fire, the whole thing [Some of my best memories with my dad are on camping trips in the backyard or during Cub Scouts when he was our pack leader. Will never forget him helping me roll up my sleeping bag and being patient when I couldn’t seem to figure it out]
  7. Carve a turkey [Know how to cut it right, teach them to not only carve it but also to serve it. Allow guests to eat first. Be a servant]
  8. Light a grill [Charcoal only, no gas. Sorry Hank Hill. Teach them to do it without having to resort to lighter fluid. Steaks and chicken taste better without that nasty smell]
  9. Jump start a car [This will come in handy!]
  10. Tie a knot (square, taut-line, bowline, figure 8, etc.) [I’m still impressed my dad can do all his Cub Scout knots, I wish I had that still]
  11. Use basic tools – hammer, saw, wrench, screwdriver [Teach your son to be handy. You don’t have to be able to do everything, but know how to do some things around the house. I loved being able to help my dad, even if it was to hold the light so he could see. But I watched everything and now still try to learn how to do things so I can teach Sam later]
  12. Paint a room, trim and all
  13. Handle a gun and knife – for safety, protection, sport, and hunting [Give them a good pocketknife, teach them to whittle some and how to use the different tools on the knife – Always keep it before them that guns and knives are to be treated with extreme care and respect]
  14. Skin an animal [City boy confession, never been hunting. No clue how to do this, I can barely clean a fish. This is where it’s good to have friends who can help on this!]
  15. Be a gentleman: open doors, stand when a woman approaches at dinner, etc. [Chivalry is dead, but ladies want to be treated as such. Don’t be a slouch or a bum, be a man]
  16. Grow stuff, not just a Chia pet
  17. Iron a shirt, and do laundry and other work around the house in a manly way [Not sure how to iron manly, do you eat beef jerky and shave while doing it? The point is this, guys you need to be able to take care of yourself and not make your wife do everything. And also fellas, your wife will love you and appreciate you so much more if you can do laundry, iron, cook, clean, and most importantly, make the bed]
  18. Manage money – keep a balanced checkbook, show generosity, and learn basic saving and investing [Teach the value of giving to God and spending money wisely, learn how to save]
  19. Shake a hand – strong shake (leave the tuna for dinner) and look ’em in the eye [No dead fish, be confident]
  20. Give a man hug – skip the side hug and go arms spread eagle with bold back slaps [Men aren’t scared to hug their friends and tell them they love them]
  21. Keep vows [Your word may be all people know about you, make sure it’s good. Keeping your word is central to being a man of integrity. Keep your word to your wife, to your kids, to your work, and to your church]
  22. Dress like a gentleman – coordinate pants, shirts, jackets, ties, belts, socks, etc. appropriately to the occasion [And don’t be scared to ask your wife if it looks OK, she knows more colors than green, red, brown, and blue – They also make rubrics to know what colors to wear]
  23. Tip – for example at least 15% for a waiter providing adequate service, $1 for a checked coat, $1 per bag for curbside check in at airport, etc. [Your generosity speaks much about who you are. Are you willing to be gracious and generous with what God has given you? Do you bless those who serve you?]
  24. Serve others – shovel walks, help with heavy loads, etc. [Always volunteer for the hard jobs. Don’t let someone else take on something you know you could do. If you can’t do it by yourself, ask for help. But never be found on the sideline, find a job to do. Sign up for your church’s snow removal team, be available if people need help]
  25. Handle loss – sports and games in preparation for loss in work and relationships [Contrary to what kids are taught, not everyone gets a trophy in life. The best baseball players get thrown out 7 times for every 3 times they get on base. Basketball players miss half the shots they take. Tiger Woods wins only a fraction of the tournaments he enters. You will lose way more often than you win. Learn to handle defeat and rejection well. Learn from it and come back stronger next time]

Dads, let’s raise our sons well. But all of this is moot if we do not first and foremost point our sons to the Savior. Give your sons the Gospel, teach them the Bible, tell them often about Jesus and how He has forgiven you and given you new life. Dads, learn to be in second place, be your son’s hero but be willing to let Jesus capture their heart and be their first hero.

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