You go first, dad!

Excerpted from the book Preparing Your Son for Every Man’s Battle by Steve Arterburn

Your son is becoming a young man, and he aches for you to count him as one. But, there are natural obstacles, and it’s unlikely that he’ll bring up ‘the’ question himself. We must make it easy for our sons to share, and there is only one way to ensure that. We must go first. We must be the ones to initiate the conversation.

Thankfully, swapping stories is right up our alley, and it shouldn’t be scary in the least. In light of this, our call to teach our children isn’t really something to fear anymore either:

Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hand and bind them on your foreheads. Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. (Deuteronomy 11:18-19)

I used to wonder how I could accomplish all this. Like most families, my kids and I lead busy lives, and we don’t sit around home, nor do we walk or work together very much. Our culture is vastly different from that of the Hebrews. And that’s perfectly fine. God understands the fast-paced society we live in, but He still wants us to teach our kids how we apply Scripture to our day-to-day lives. Since our kids aren’t with us much during the day to see how we apply Scripture, filling this call won’t look the same today as it did back then.

Therefore, we need to do the next best thing…we need to tell them what happened during our day and our weeks and our years.

To go deep with our sons, we need to do two things.

  • Spend time talking with them.
  • Be open and transparently share our lives and our walk with God.

Life’s hectic. Obstacles keep popping up like gopher heads in those arcade games. More often than not, we’ll beat those gopher heads down in the areas where it really counts.

Fortunately, we men have a secret weapon, a special category male communication that connects us every time it’s tried’ we can swap stories, tell tales, and regale listeners. Storytelling is right up our alley, and nobody does it better.

Do you swap stories with your son? How many of your stories could help your son if you took a chance and shared them? You shouldn’t just wait for such moments to arise. So what can you do to trigger the process? Spend the last moments of your kids’ day with them, talking with them in their bedrooms before they go to sleep. Read a book with them. Often the author’s stories will trigger memories of your own stories, providing a push to dive into deeper waters.

Regardless of how old your son is, it’s not too late. Your son still longs for a relationship with you. We all need that connection with our fathers and will seek it to the very end if given half a chance.

Two or three nights a week read six to eight pages of a book in silence separately in a room that can be considered your place. Of course the book is not the end game here; while your reading, you’re also looking for opportunities to talk later on, ask leading questions, and regale your son with stories. Underline thoughts that you want to come back to. Sitting across from one another will provide good eye contact and encourage honest sharing. Talk about girls, peer pressure, temptation, bullies, whatever’s on your mind and seems to flow naturally.

How do I choose which books to go through? Whatever makes sense at the time! Choosing the right book is part of being proactive and intentional. I always begin with a broad-based book on puberty and adolescence, such as Preparing Your Son for Every Man’s Battle. Such books are foundational to everything that comes later in building your ‘swapping place’ with your kids. Believe me, after you’ve given them a taste for what the teen years will be like and shared your experiences from the past, you and your children will be tighter than you have ever been.

For some help on ‘swapping stories’ and connecting with your son read Preparing Your Son for Every Man’s Battle.

6 Steps Toward A Richer Spiritual Life!

New Life Ministries

1. Learn to fast. Whether it’s denial of food or some other pleasure for a period of time, deny yourself in order to find yourself in a greater relationship with God. Fasting can satisfy various spiritual needs, not the least of which is as scripture says ‘humble your souls.’

2. Use a journal to note your spiritual journey. Spend a few minutes at the end or beginning of the day to pour out your thoughts to God in writing (or on your PC). By reviewing what you’ve written, you can discover how much you’ve grown or not in your walk with God.

3. Go on a pilgrimage or retreat. Look for retreat opportunities, visit holy places, sacred sites, and spend extended time in prayer, meditation, and conversation with God. Retreats offer time away from our routine, and we can learn new ways to connect with God.

4. Create a place of prayer in your congregation. Designate an area in the building that is quiet and private, that can be an open door to people who are seeking to connect with God. Do the same at home, find a quiet place to meet God regularly.

5. Practice acts of kindness. Look around your neighborhood, read your newspaper about those who are hurting, be alert to the needs of the down-and-out, the poor, the shunned. Then do what you can to help with a kind word, a helping hand, a donation. Commit to do at least one such act a day. In doing so, your focus will be less on your needs and wants and more on others.

6. Read God’s word daily. When you fill yourself with the wisdom of God at the beginning of your day, you don’t look around to other people, things, and activities to fill your life. God will satisfy the needs of your lives if only you will seek him.

Tour Israel with Steve Arterburn and New Life Ministries