I heard former Buffalo Bills quarterback Jim Kelly on the radio recently. He has a new book called The Playbook for Dads. Jim writes about respect, character, accountability, and spiritual discipline. He challenges dads to work hard, to pray for their children, and to love their wives. That’s good stuff!
Jim grew up Catholic and talks about how faith shaped his life from his earliest years. He also makes it clear that he didn’t become a born-again Christian until five years ago. He clearly explains the difference this has made in his life and family.
Jim said that he often speaks to public school children. One of the questions he asks students is how many of them do what their parents or teachers tell them the first time they are told to do something. He said easily ninety percent of the students indicate that it takes two, three, or more times to be told to do something before they do it.
This is the environment in which teachers work. No wonder our schools have declined so badly. There is no discipline in homes or classrooms.
I met with a church group recently and we reviewed the demographics of their neighborhood. A large apartment complex nearby is filled with women and children. There is not a single adult male who lives there.
I read a story years ago about adolescent male elephants living on a game preserve without any adult male elephants. The adolescents created all kinds of mischief and destruction. Adult male elephants were moved into the preserve and the adolescent misbehavior stopped immediately.
Our culture has rightly esteemed and elevated women over the last few generations. May we continue doing so in an appropriate manner. However, our culture has also denigrated men as role models. Men have been assigned the roles of villains, abusers, or permanently immature Neanderthals. This is true even of ministers.
I had the privilege of learning under strong male role models in the public schools I attended. One coach attended the United States Military Academy at West Point. Another coach served in the Marines during Vietnam and played linebacker for the Chicago Bears before irreparably injuring his knee.
My sixth-grade science teacher wore a suit and tie every day. He overcame institutional and cultural racism to achieve success his forebears were denied. He refused to allow us to behave indecently or to neglect our studies. His hand was strong and his heart was tender. His faith in God was evident in his bearing.
You don’t need to resign your position and become a schoolteacher to positively influence the rising generation.
We need strong men, not arrogant pretenders. We need mentors, coaches, and friends who expect the best out of others and who help them become and do that which honors God and blesses others. We need to be those men.
We need to be those men in relationship with our wives. No wife of ours should ever question whether she is more important to us than our ministries. Each of our wives should believe she is the most loved woman in the world.
We need to be those men in relationship with our children. No child of ours should ever question whether he or she is more important to us than our ministries. Each of our children should believe they are the most loved children in the world.
We need to be those men in relationship to the single moms and children in our churches. Every single mom and every fatherless child should know they have advocates in us and friends in our families. They should know that they are not alone in the challenges that families face today.
We need to be those men in relationship to other men. We are to mentor and model what biblical manhood is all about. It is as humble as Moses. It is as prayerful as Daniel. It is as poetic as David and as wise as Solomon. It is as intense as Paul and as encouraging as Barnabas. It is all that and so much more.
Like the Marines, we need a few good men. We need them to disciple, mentor, coach, and train many more men.