There is a HUGE hole in the family structure. Men have disappeared and are not fathering their children. So….. boys aren’t being taught to be men, by men. They are being taught to be men by women. (And, girls aren’t being taught by their fathers to be women.) And, as much as I love women (hello, I am one and VERY proud of it), I do think it’s VERY important that boys (and girls) are raised and discipled by both women AND men. Somewhere around 35% of children in Mecklenburg County live in single parent households…..most of which are headed by women. This means that we need to get creative with how to expose children to men who will be involved in their development…..to begin to fill that hole in the family structure.
My Goddaughter doesn’t have a bio-dad in her life. But, she does have her grandfather. And he’s an AMAZING grandfather. He adores her. He spends time with her. He takes her fishing and has taught her to play golf (she’s better than me!). She knows his cell phone number by heart and calls him ALL of the time. [And he ALWAYS picks up.] She spends every summer with both of her grandparents, at their house in Florida. While there….and throughout the year….she is being raised and discipled by her grandfather. She is learning that he thinks differently, behaves differently and treats her differently than her mom, grandmother, me and other women. He is showing her what fatherly love looks like – he’s modeling Christ’s love for her.
Y’all know I’ve gushed about my Godson before (I mean, he’s just the cutest). His name is Ashworth and he is a doll baby. His momma calls him her angel baby. My best friend Courtney, Ashworth’s mom, and her husband Mike know how important exposing Ashworth to all kinds of people is for his development. They chose me to be Godmom and Dave to be Godfather (see photo of the best.Godteam.ever above!). If anything were to happen to Mike, I know without a doubt that Dave would step in. He would take Ashworth camping, fishing and hiking and teach him all about boy scouts and how to discover the riches of God’s creation. Dave’s going to do that anyway though. It’s not going to take something happening to Mike for him to be involved in Ashworth’s life. He’s already involved. He took the reigns and set up a schedule for both of us to invest in Ashworth’s college fund. And, I can only imagine all of the fun that Ashworth is going to have with his dad, Dave and all of their other guy friends who are STILL so super involved in scouting. They are going to be camping, fishing and hiking for forever. Ashworth is going to learn what it means to be a man from both women and men. That’s one lucky little boy.
Boys need to learn to be men. Yes, women can teach them that. But there’s an extra special sauce that comes when men teach boys to be men. In his book, Play the Man, Mark Batterson talks about seven virtues of a man that must be learned and how important it is for fathers to teach their sons to become men. While these virtues are not exclusive to men, Batterson says that he has found that they are more important and yet, more lacking in men. These virtues are: tough love, childlike wonder, will power, raw passion, true grit, clear vision and moral courage.
In the absence of fathers, other men need to step in and shepherd these boys in their process of becoming men. Batterson writes, “Jesus spent the better part of three years camping, fishing and hiking with His disciples. Jesus didn’t just teach them how to be fishers of men. Jesus taught them how to play the man!” Boys need more exposure to men. Good men. Men who will go camping, fishing and hiking with them and show them what it means to be a man. Men who will model what Jesus did with His disciples and men who will model His love.
The Charlotte Mecklenburg Dream Center knows this need sooooooo intimately. Most of the children that are served through the ministry come from female-headed single parent households. To respond, CMDC has developed a camping component to their ministry so that groups of Godly men take boys out to hike and camp. I don’t think they’ve ventured into the fishing thing yet. And hiking is probably more like walking to the campsite. But, y’all get what I’m saying. They are doing something with a focus on men and boys. This past weekend the boys learned how to make steak and eggs and had a time where they could ask any questions they had – about God, life, whatever. The boys are being discipled by men. They have an affinity outlet for their questions that they don’t want to ask mom, auntie, grandma, etc. I mean y’all. That is so important. I definitely wouldn’t have wanted to ask my dad about some things when I was a youngster, so I imagine it’s just the same with boys.
Holes also exist in the family structure even when dad is there! Soooooooo many dads aren’t present for their kids and their families. They spend more time working than they do at home.
And y’all this need doesn’t just go for boys, even though most of my examples focused on the need for boys to learn to become men. It’s also that girls learn what it means to be a woman from a fatherly figure and know that she doesn’t have to go searching for that love somewhere else. She is so dearly loved by our Heavenly Father and can learn that love from a Godly man in her life who will model it.
Things can change. There doesn’t have to be a hole in the family structure. It starts with teaching these boys about being men and their role in the family structure. Let’s invest now so that the next generation lives without that hole and rather with WHOLENESS.