How to Raise a Boy to be a Man
By Pastor Tom Anderson
Teach boys the fear of the Lord. “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight.” (Proverbs 9:10) Tell him about your experiences of the power and love of God in nature and in life. Show him that the only appropriate response to such a God is reverent submission and respect for God’s authority. God is powerful and God is good. The foundation for being a man is the fear of the Lord.
Teach a boy to understand his own heart. So many voices today teach children to follow their hearts, listen to their hearts and do what is in their hearts. But a true understanding of the human heart is that it's selfish. When we follow our hearts, we make ourselves into gods instead of chasing after God’s heart. “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9) What we find in God’s heart is always better than what we find in our own.
Teach boys to ask for help. Men pride themselves on being the fixers and repairers of all sorts of problems. We swagger when it works and feel like failures when it doesn’t. It takes great strength to ask for help. Paul discovered this, “But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” We all need help, and we shouldn't hesitate to recognize it and ask for it.
Teach your son to control his anger. This you must do by example. If you deal with parenting by using a menacing voice and demonstrations of destructive power, your son will imitate you. Better than any lecture is your own example in the midst of conflict and disappointment. Let God teach you how to control your anger and express it in productive and positive ways.
Teach boys to take responsibility. “For each will have to bear his own load.” (Galatians 6:5) Let them deal with the natural consequences of their choices. Keep yourself from rescuing them from the hard realities of their poor judgment. They will learn to manage themselves. But they will never learn if they know their parents will always rescue them from themselves. Instead of men, they will only become adult boys.
Teach boys to honor women. Peter wrote, “Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman…” (1 Peter 3:7) Boys learn how to treat women by watching their father treat their mother. And when mom is not present, there can’t be gawking and disrespectful jokes. Boys will be boys unless we train them to be men.
Teach boys to be prepared for battle. Psalm 144:1 says, “Blessed be the Lord, my rock, who trains my hands for war, and my fingers for battle;” Some battles in life need to be fought. We want our sons to look like Jesus who was gentle but tough, who was a lion yet also a lamb. Jesus was not afraid to absorb the hits. He was not a passive dude who avoided conflict or who was afraid to take a stand for God. Speaking up for those who are bullied or mistreated is a battle real men shouldn’t shy away from.
Godly men don’t happen by accident. They are instructed and formed by the praying people in their lives.