Transitions are important in life. We often mark transitions with special events, ceremonies, and meals, and rightly so. These kinds of actions remind us that transitions must be acknowledged, prepared for, and faced with courage. A failure to do so often leads to fear and insecurity. The in-between times in life are formative for both good and bad.
Dads, one important job you have is to prepare your sons for the transitions they will face. The apostle Paul wrote to the church at Corinth, “I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth” (1 Cor 3:7). His advice to the church provides dads a good perspective on raising our sons. We are dependent on God’s work and grace, but we are to plant and water.
Guiding our sons through transitions is a vital way that we plant and water our sons. We must set the example we want our sons to follow. We should be willing to say to our sons what Paul said to the church in Corinth, “Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ” (1 Cor 11:1). In our son’s transitional seasons, we must be intentional about teaching and training them. And when our sons make strides in the right direction we must celebrate with them.
Manhood is not easy, and biblical manhood is harder still. We must teach our sons this fact and train our sons with this fact in mind. Laziness is a sin our culture has deemed as acceptable, but as Christian dads, we must teach our sons that laziness is wicked. Our sons must be trained that it is not acceptable to just float along with no clear goals and live as consumers rather than workers and servants.
One thing I do with my sons is taking them on a manhood retreat around age twelve to fourteen years of age depending on their maturity. During this retreat, I begin the process of intentionally ushering them from childhood to manhood. After this retreat, I refer to my son as a young man. I do not use the term teenager because the Bible speaks of childhood giving way to a transition into manhood and womanhood.
Also, after our manhood trip, I institute the direction rule. The direction rule means that whenever I ask my sons from that point on, “What do you plan to do with your life?” they must have an answer to the question and not say, “I don’t know.” At the end of the day, I often ask, “How did you honor God today in the pursuit of your career goal?” I do not care if it is a different goal on Thursday than it was on Wednesday, just that they have a goal they are working toward to the glory of God. I tell them you have to be headed somewhere to get anywhere.
The goal is to create a culture where the transition from childhood to adulthood is marked is by intentional action and not by apathy. When Paul exhorts, “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Cor 10:31), he is calling for purposeful action. Dads, your sons will experience significant transitions from stage to stage in their development, the only questions is, who will guide, lead, and celebrate those transitions? For God’s glory and your sons good, let it be you.