This school year, my older son Matthew entered fifth grade. At ten years old, he is still in a pre-pubescent state, but I am realizing that this will not last long. The days of Legos and sword fights with little brother will pass soon. Ah, the bittersweet joys of motherhood. How I long for my children to grow up, but when they do, there is also a little sadness tinged with it. As I was planning for the school year, the Lord pressed on my heart that one of the best ways to handle the teen years is to prepare for it---not just myself, but my children as well. I wish I could have said I did that with Janna. (I am thankful for God's grace on first-born children!) This time, with Matthew, I decided that I would incorporate some of that in our time together each week.
I came across the book Boyhood and Beyond by Bob Schultz in an Amazon recommendation. It seemed to fit just what I wanted for Matthew. As a mom, I didn't quite know how to prepare my boy for manhood, so this book has been a wonderful way to guide and direct our talks together. The chapters are short, each with a specific purpose. Some of the topics we discussed were forgiveness, what to do in times of failure, and the importance of obedience to authority.
One of my favorite chapters is entitled "One Degree at a Time." Using common household tools, the author talks about how the process of change happens "one degree at a time," or in other words, little by little. He writes, "Changing into a man is a continual process. It is learning one line after another, one precept after the next, here a little, there a little. Many boys wait for the big jump of growth. It never comes. A man that is faithful in big things was faithful for years in little things. Diligence is careful, steady effort: today, tomorrow, and the next day. It is not necessarily speedy, but it always arrives at the destination."
And so it is with our boys. If we want them to grow up to be men of character, it begins with the boys of today. Even if they are young, like my little Jonathan, I am realizing that what I do (or don't do) with them now will affect their character, for good or ill.
Matthew and I read the chapter, talk through the discussion questions that are included at the end of the chapter and spend some time in prayer. As often as we can, we try to find a life connection that applies to him right now, not just when he is grown up.
I can tell that this book has touched Matthew deeply. My husband told me that one day, Matthew sat him down and recounted all the chapters and stories we had read so far from the book. It is inspiring him to be a godly man, even while he is a young boy.
There are other titles by this same author and I am planning on reading them all with Matthew. They deal with work and other topics and I am praying that these moments of building in godly character will bear much fruit in the years to come. I would say that this book in particular is well suited for boys age ten and up, on the brink of adolescence, but if your sons are older than that, I believe they will benefit as well.
A well-written book will provide a wonderful springboard to pass on your values, even if you cannot verbalize them yourself. This is one of those books. I encourage you to spend the time to go over it with your son if possible. God has created our boys to be the warriors of tomorrow and we all know that doesn't happen in a day. May this book encourage and equip you to help them to take their place in our world and become the leaders in the generation to come. [openbook booknumber="ISBN:1883934095" templatenumber="1"]