A number of organizations, both secular and religious, have noted our culture’s lack of attention to the importance of strong males in both home and society. A lot of attention has been focused on myriads of other social issues, but the cultivation of strong, wise men has been neglected. As a homeschooling parent, you are uniquely positioned to direct your son toward biblical manhood.
God has ordained at least three institutions—the home, the state, and the church—and in at least two of them, Scripture directs that the leadership should be male. This means that most men will be in some kind of leadership role; so it is vital to prepare boys for that future role.
Scripture is filled with examples of godly men, from Job to Moses to David to Paul (and of course, Jesus Himself, who though fully God is fully man as well). You can study these scriptural accounts with your boys and encourage them to note the key characteristics of each man of God.
Biblical leaders recognize that they are under leaders as well (Ephesians 6:9) and that they are prone to sinfulness as well as all the other characteristics of imperfection (Romans 3:10). They make mistakes, and when they do, they correct them. David repented of his sin with Bathsheba (2 Samuel 12:13), but he did not fail to meet his kingly obligations when facing the consequences of his sin (2 Samuel 12:20).
Self-control is one of the most important traits that a godly man can learn. In a world overflowing with temptations of all kinds, the ability to say “no” to oneself is crucial. Help your sons learn to say “no” to themselves when they are tempted by anger, lust, and selfish desires; and teach them how to focus on joy, gratitude, and service to others instead.
Love is the key to self-control. It is putting the needs of others ahead of your own. Love is the opposite of pride and self-centeredness; and while it is necessary for all believers (Matthew 22:36–40), it’s especially vital for leaders, who have a bigger sphere of influence.
A key element of love— selflessness—comes from working with other people. Group projects (with siblings or other homeschooled children) can encourage your sons to work together and help one another succeed.
Responsibility and Courage
Often, being in charge means doing things that are not fun, and in some cases, not even pleasant. Leaders do those things anyway (2 Corinthians 7:8). They establish a vision, make a plan, and do what is necessary to accomplish it. Sometimes, leaders also have to make unpopular decisions. A godly man should be able to do the right thing despite opposition, even from those he loves; and that takes courage.
It can be healthy, if done in an encouraging environment, to stretch your sons by giving them a little bit more to do than they think they are capable of. Give your boys carefully measured opportunities to be responsible, and reward them with greater responsibility—and freedom—when they do well and make the right choices.
Attentiveness and Empathy
In order to recognize their responsibilities and make good decisions, leaders need to know what’s going on around them. They need to pay attention, listen, and consider carefully the actions and words of other people.
Good leaders have an understanding of how their own actions affect others. They recognize the emotional, physical, and spiritual needs of those they are responsible for, and they seek to meet them in appropriate ways.
Christlikeness and Obedience
Whether a man is a leader or not, he is to be like Christ. Reading Christ’s great prayer (John 17), we are struck by the poignancy of His need for fellowship with His Father. The lowest point of His life was when He cried out from the cross, agonizing over the separation from His Father that occurred when He took on our sin. Being dependent on God is not weakness; it’s the wisdom of recognizing where a man finds his ultimate strength.
Christ also obeyed His Father (John 4:34) even though He is His Father’s equal (John 10:30; 14:9). We are even told that He “learned . . . obedience by the things which he suffered” (Hebrews 5:8).
The Bible clearly says that Christ developed as a boy in all the growth areas of the human condition: intellectual, physical, spiritual, and social (Luke 2:52). He apparenlty learned to speak three different languages fluently: Greek, Aramaic, and Hebrew. He observed carefully the nature of creation (Matthew 6:28) as well as human culture (Luke 7:32). If He could be both omniscient and thirsty for knowledge, each godly boy or man should also strive to be a lifelong student.
Your son might be overwhelmed with the idea that he has to cultivate all these characteristics. Like everyone else, he is a work in progress that will not be finished until Christ returns again. To develop these traits in themselves, a boy needs endurance.
Christ is the ultimate example of endurance (Hebrews 12:2). He lived in a fallen, broken, soiled world in a flimsy body of flesh among sinners. He had to face every day knowing what anguish lay ahead for Him in the form of a cross, but He kept going. Through the filth, the faithlessness, and the failures of his followers, He persevered. At last, He “became sin for us” (2 Corinthians 5:21) and the object of the Father’s curse (Galatians 3:13). He completed His mission even though it took years of toil and trouble; and He can walk with your sons, giving them the endurance they need.
Good men do not develop by accident. They are the product of the work of the Holy Spirit, the study of Scripture, diligent prayer, and careful discipleship. In God’s providence, you have been placed in a discipling role for your sons. Disciple on purpose.
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Rebecca K. is a work-at-home freelance writer, a novelist, a wife, and a mom of two bright-eyed little ones. She credits her success in writing and her love of books to her mom, who homeschooled three kids from pre-K through high school.