“Men in our congregation must take responsibility for the discipleship of our young boys and young men, training them away from a pagan hyper-masculinity that defies the appetites and hurts women and children.” Russell Moore
As an adult male who it seems has been called by the Lord to a life of singleness, it’s easy sometimes to forget my role in the formation of young boys and men. Actually it’s hard to remember I actually have a role in this!
Scripture is clear that the family has been chosen by God as the main tool for spiritual formation in the lives of children. This is best of course since nobody will have a stronger relationship, or spend more time with a child than their parents.
While this is true, someone in my position (single adult) can’t begin to believe that we don’t have a call to influence children at all…because there is a great need for mentors or those who will disciple children.
This is something I personally believe is needed by all families, including those who have a strong father figure and mother. But the growing amount of children who grow up without Godly parents (particularly fathers) shows there is a greater need than ever before for Christians who can teach them what it means to truly be a man or woman of God.
Since arriving in Barrouallie this calling has been heavy on my heart since many children either don’t have a father, or their father is absent almost all the time. The boys in particular challenged me because many of them didn’t have a male role-model so they learned what it was like to be a man from their mom or grandmother.
Now I’m not saying moms and grandmothers can’t teach children what it means to be a man (Sadly they will be a step up from many of the “men” we have today) but it’s incredibly sad that they would be put in that position. Eventually that burden for young boys led me to take up the calling of mentoring or discipling them.
Yesterday afternoon a boy who comes to Church visited during lunch and practically begged me to go down to the beach with him. Since I had lots of work to do it wasn’t possible that afternoon, but I did promise to go down today. After a bit of conversation it was decided we would have a race, and seeing the opportunity to have some fun, I began trash-talking about how bad Mr. John was going to beat him in that race. The group ended up growing to five as more boys decided to show me how fast they were.
At around 4:00 this afternoon I ran up and down the beach with them and came in dead-last (not surprising at all). That didn’t matter though because the goal was to have fun
- By pushing them out of the way by “accident”
- Threaten to wapow them into the ocean (swing my elbow towards them while saying the word wapow)
- Acting as if I was scared out of my mind when one of them jumped out from behind a wall (and scaring two women in the process)
- Play chase two of them around my yard
- And giving out plenty of high-fives and fist bumps after the race
Now I’m not naive enough to believe that makes up for not having a father. But I also know boys are drawn to men who will race them down the beach and threaten to wapow every other minute. This influence opens the door for ministry like this afternoon when I shared the Gospel with a little boy named Remario.
No I won’t be dad, but I can be Mr. John, the man they visit multiple times a day
And that’s good enough for me