Today My son is a Man!
I have a few thoughts for you as you enter adulthood. You are 18 today which means that in the eyes of the law you are a man. You can go to war, vote, be tried as an adult if you commit a crime, and serve on jury duty. I know that 18 is just a number and that many “men” live their whole lives without ever letting go of the little boy inside of them. These are the kind of men who can’t make marriages work, make poor financial decisions, and make selfish choices. They have trouble with communication, integrity and gratitude.
Many have this trouble because they don’t have any good role models, and others have trouble because they refuse to respect the role models God has given them. Still others have never learned to honor the Lord or their father and mother, or put away childish things.
Perhaps we will have a “manhood ceremony” for you this spring, but I think I will share 18 things that made your dad a man you could emulate…what I know of the man whose one desire was to point you in the right direction by his words, his actions and his attitudes.
1. Always choose Jesus. This is a daily decision that your dad and I prayed every morning of our lives together – that we would choose the Lord and his purposes for us for that day. When your sister and you were born we prayed that every morning for you both as well. Since your dad went home to heaven I have been especially cognizant of the fact that you might have a reason to walk away from your faith so I have continued to pray that prayer for you. And I am grateful that God has answered that prayer. Your dad was a huge fan of Brother Lawrence and PTPOG! Practicing the Presence of God.
2. Always work on relationships! Communicate, put others first, and love by building people up. This is the “barnabas” factor. Talk to strangers. welcome others. Practice hospitality. Your dad’s favorite Bible Character, besides Gideon, is Barnabas. He set the example himself of one who listened, encouraged and put others first. Phil. 2 was not only a chapter he memorized but one he lived.
3. Be a life long learner. Remember that you don’t know everything…in fact you know very little about anything. Learn from the people in your life who know a lot more than you. Everyone has a lot to learn about an endless amount of things so become a lifelong learner. There are lessons to be learned everywhere around you if you are open to them.
4. Have Fun! Explore life with a sense of childlike wonder and curiosity. The world is a playground and you are here to have fun. Try new things. Read books. Travel.
5. Set Goals! Don’t be afraid to dream big. Set goals and work to make them a reality. Your dad quietly pressed on with school and work and ended up with a PhD and the job of his dreams. You can too.
6. Compassion cannot be overrated! There are 7 billion people on this planet and you have more in common with them than can ever be understood. You can never overestimate the worth of any one of them. All human beings – including yourself – are made in the image of God with purpose. Live with compassion and empathy and let God’s love shine through you.
7. Choose joy! Don’t just be happy….create happiness for others.
8. Forgiveness and Gratitude go hand in hand. Remove negativity in your life and replace it with hope. Do this by being grateful, forgiving, encouraging and uplifting others with your words of blessing. This is one of the constants of your dad’s life and ministry.
9. Bring out the best in Others! All human beings are born in this world with a super power – they and you can change the world! You can never overestimate the worth of anyone . That starts at home. How you treat your mom will be how you treat your wife one day. And friendship is the best present! Prov. 27:19 says that who you are is shown by the kinds of friends you choose. Be a good one yourself.
10. Let go of Anger!– A godly man is patient in tribulation. He realizes that God is refining and molding him to look more like Christ. He is gentle and kind with others, especially his family. When he wants to be selfish or impatient, he chooses instead to be patient because God has first been patient with him. (Col. 3:12-17, 1 Cor. 13:1-4) Your dad was rarely ever angry.
11. Family is forever for a reason! It is where we get our start and learn our values. we learn responsibility and develop relationships. Your sister will be your longest relationship you will have in life. I pray that you will cherish her and trust her and always be friends. I am so grateful for my home of origin and the rare privilege to be raised as a Christian. I know you can relate. The values developed within a family that operates on those principles then extend to the society at large.
12 Be generous. Always be willing to share your time, your talents, your story, your money and more. You can never out give God. Your dad tithed regularly and gave even more! 100% never felt like enough for him.
13 Life is meant to be a Pot Pie! Your dad used the illustration of a pot pie versus a TV dinner. In other words, let Jesus be part of every area of your life and let his presence infect and affect the “flavor” of everything you do. You are a spiritual person and every part of your life touches the other, including your physical, emotional. mental, moral, social parts of you. Col. 2:8 says that if you are having trouble with your faith and your joy then stop building your life on the philosophies of men rather than on what Christ taught.
14 Be a Servant – A godly man first and foremost serves his family. He places the needs of others above his own. He doesn’t complain when he doesn’t get his way. He doesn’t make much of himself but seeks to build others up. He realizes that pride comes before the fall so in humility he considers others more significant than himself. He humbly serves others out of the overflow of ‘Christ in him’. (Mark 10:45, 2 Cor, 5:17-21, Philp. 2:3)
15 Be a hard worker and Diligent – A godly man doesn’t put off tomorrow what needs to be done today. He works hard to provide for his family spiritually, physically, mentally and emotionally. (Prv. 10:4, 12:24, 21:5). Never give up and always give life your best
16 Set boundaries and have Self-control – A godly man is in control of his emotions. This doesn’t mean he doesn’t show his emotions. It means his emotions are under the influence and control of the Spirit of God. He doesn’t allow his emotions to get the best of him. (Galatians 5:19-24) Your dad worked hard to have accountability in every area of his life. It worked.
17 Honesty and Integrity – A godly man keeps his word. He does the right thing even when no one is looking. He is trustworthy and reliable to all who call upon him. (Ps. 24:3-6). Your dad had both of these and I hope you inherited them!
18. Step up. Lead. Imitate. Be a man of action. Assume it is your job and your moment. Hate apathy. Reject passivity. Be one of the people who make things happen. Stand strong and be courageous. Serve the King.
Happy Birthday! I love you!