“No, keep them wild!”–wise words from our pastor. The conversation was very short, only in passing as my family and I walked out of church. Pastor David said something like, “Look at these beasts!” speaking of my seven sons. I replied “Yes, we have to tame them!” This is when he grabbed my shoulders and said “No, keep them wild!”
This is certainly not your typical parenting advice, especially from a pastor! Now, was he talking about letting our boys be unrestrained, impolite, brutish animals, a bunch of little Mowglis? Of course not! God is a God of order and righteous conduct and of discipline. No, he was telling me to let them be men. The last thing this world needs is more tame, soft men! You may ask, “But aren’t Christian boys supposed to be nice, sweet, gentle, passive and absolutely never fight?” But let me ask you, doesn’t this sound rather weak and unmanly? Does this sound like David? Did David “gently” cut off Goliath’s head? Or Phinehas? Did Phinehas “sweetly” run the man and woman through who were blatantly rebelling and worshipping Baal? Jesus–was Jesus passive when He called the Pharisees whitewashed tombs or when He made a whip and cleansed the temple? The Levites–were they men who refused to fight? No, they chose to obey God and took up swords against their brothers when they had sinned and made that golden calf. John the Baptist was not “nice” when he called the Pharisees a brood of vipers!
No, men are called to be rough, strong, bold fighters. They are defenders of their homes and families, their churches. They are called to fight for truth, for God’s glory, and for His name to be upheld and not mocked. They are not to cower or whimper or run from a just fight. They are to be the cast iron skillet, well-seasoned and maybe a little rusty. They are made for battles, and you don’t take fine china to the battlefield.
We can all recognize a man who won’t lead his family or his church in truth and cowers at any push back. And as any godly women would, we find this grievous. Wishy-washy men just don’t attract godly women! And I think we all want godly wives for our sons. There are many things that I love about my husband, but what I really find attractive is how he holds himself. In his walk, in his speech, he has this strength and confidence. Not a prideful confidence or a showy look-at-me way about him, but just a humble power that I love. My man! I know my husband will fight for my honor and for God’s honor. I know that he will even fight me, his joy and crown, if I seek to lead our family into ungodliness–he’s not afraid of me. And I love this! It gives me security and peace knowing that he will put God’s glory above all earthly peace and comfort.
I know so many of you agree that this is what a real man looks like. But, are you raising your boys to this end, to be men? Or are you coddling and over- nurturing? Moms of boys have to be tougher–I am not implying meaner, just tougher. You must require more, not less, of them than your girls. Because God will require more of them.
“Everyone to whom much was given, of him much will be required, and from him to whom they entrusted much, they will demand the more.” Luke 12:48b
Men are given headship, they are the ones given to lead their households and the church. Our sons are the future pastors and elders. Doesn’t your heart rejoice on Sunday when we are fed God’s truth? Don’t you rejoice to see God using a man to thunder from the pulpit rejecting worldly wisdom and lifting up as good and holy God’s law? Don’t you want your sons to be such men?
Your sons will one day be the head of a wife, and she will have to submit to his headship. Think about what God said of Abraham in Genesis 18: “For I have chosen him, that he may command his children and his household after him to keep the way of the LORD by doing righteousness and justice, so that the LORD may bring to Abraham what he has promised him.”
Are you training them for this command?
They must learn to work, and work hard, to deal with pain, to lead and even to fight. They must learn which battles to go hard into and when they should just take one on the chin. They must learn to serve because that is where leadership starts. A good leader is willing to get his hands dirty. Jesus is the ultimate example of manliness and leadership. You see Him boldly proclaiming truth and calling out hypocrisy and false teaching. And serving those who followed Him. He fed the five thousand, He cleansed the lepers and blessed the little children. Jesus washed the disciples’ dirty feet! Call your sons to,
“Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” Philippians 2:3-8
Although they are given the headship of their families and churches, they are to be the servants of all (Mark 9:35). It’s not strong men who lord their power over their wives and children–it’s weak men–so don’t be afraid to raise strong men.
Moms, get out of the way and let your husband rule over your sons. Let your husbands discipline them. Don’t protect them from hardship. Don’t be a hindrance to the training God has called them to. Let your husband direct your household. This means that maybe your home looks a little different than your friends or all the mom blogs that you desire to emulate. Maybe everyone is homeschooling and your husband wants to send them to public school; you trust God and send them. Or maybe it’s the opposite–everyone is sending their kids to public or private school, but your husband wants you to homeschool them. Trust God and do it.
If you are a single mom raising boys, listen to godly men in your life. Go to your pastors, elders, and small group leaders to ask for them to invest in them. Ask for advice. And for your sons’ sake–listen! Just as I am calling these wives to submission to their husbands in the training of their sons, you too must be submissive to the men God has put over you.
Don’t tear down your own house with your personal fear. This fear is selfish, and is just you desiring to make your sons in your own image, even may I say, feminine. We mothers are by God’s making nurturing, and this is glorious. But there comes a time when this isn’t what your sons need, and honestly it comes a lot sooner than you think. You will have to follow your husband’s lead and ask God for wisdom and obedience to know when we wipe the tears and comfort and when we call them to stop crying and bear the burden of manhood. A large part of this will be turning them to God, calling on them to cast all their cares upon the Lord. Call them to humble themselves under His mighty hand. (1 Peter 5:6) Call them to be like David who was burdened with many trials and yet who did he go to? To his mommy? No, David knew from where his help came, so he went to God and poured his heart out to HIM who is the rock, the fortress in whom all wisdom and power, safety and comfort is found. Don’t coddle your sons because you’re coddling your own fear–trust God! Proverbs 21:1 says “The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the LORD; he turns it wherever he will.” If God can direct the heart of a king than surely He can direct your husband and your son.
I don’t think this comes easy to any woman, even when we know it to be truth. We will have to be corrected often, and we will have to correct each other. I’m reminded of when the disciples could not cast the demon out of the boy, and Jesus told them in Mark 9:29, “This kind cannot be driven out by anything but prayer.” So ladies, pray! Pray for a soft heart that is willing to be led and corrected. Pray for the leaders over you that God would give them wisdom as they lead you and your children. Pray that your sons would be men who will boldly lead for God’s glory alone.