Yesterday we had the pleasure of having 13 boys age 5-10 at our house. They are the group we call “Strong Boys,” which is a part of the Children’s Ministry at our church. A couple months ago the “Agape Girls” came over, and the boys thought that it was about time that they got their turn. The agenda for a boys’ day is a little different. We had hotdogs, played kickball, Frisbee golf, Bible-Trivia-Frisbee-Tic-Tac-Toe (yes, that’s a thing), and quarterback challenge. We made superhero chalk drawings and ate ice cream with a bunch of toppings. Good boy activities that tap into the natural masculine spirit of a boy. We want to make our faith come alive in ways that are interesting for a boy, and this was a great chance to do that. During the 2 teaching times, I shared with the boys two topics:
1) God wants us to be strong.
2) What to do when we don’t feel strong.
God wants us to be strong in all ways. Spiritually, physically, emotionally, interpersonally, and morally, to name a few. Paul told Timothy, “Physical training is good, but training for godliness is much better, promising benefits in this life and in the life to come.” (1 Timothy 4:8) One of the big challenges for boys is being able to calm down and be serious and attentive. Self-control is one type of strength that they can and must build. There is a time to be silly, joke around, and play games. But strong boys are able to calm down and bring themselves under control so that they can listen and learn. I asked the boys what would be the consequences of never learning self-discipline, and they came up with some good ones:
- They would make foolish decisions.
- They might accidentally hurt others.
- They won’t be able to get a job
- They won’t be able to keep a job
- They would be a bad example.
- They won’t be able to teach kids about God or other important things.
Another type of strength is the courage to do the right thing, even when it isn’t popular. It takes strength and courage to stick up for a kid when other people are picking on them. It takes strength to treat others kindly even when they are being selfish or unfair to you. All of these are very tangible ways that strength is required, both in elementary boys and in grown-up boys.
What About When We Don’t Feel Strong?
Childhood can be difficult. Damaging even. Your heart would break if you knew some of the tough things that kids have to go through, and what it does to their self-image and their thoughts. We can probably all remember tough times in elementary, middle school, or high school when we were just a mess, in one way or another. I pointed out to the boys that this happens to all of us! Some days we don’t feel strong. Sometimes it is obvious that we aren’t the smartest, best or fastest. Sometimes someone else will say “Oh that’s an easy question!” but we don’t know the answer. There are times when we can’t do a game very well, are not as good at sports, don’t feel smart, or don’t know an answer. There are other times when we sin or make a mistake and feel terrible that we gave in to temptation again. Other times we will be excluded from a group, or not picked for a team. Or maybe someone is mean to us or says hurtful things…even a friend or a parent or family member. Even as adult men, sometimes deep down we don’t know if we have what it takes. I gave the boys 4 things to remember:
- God is our Father.
- He loves us.
- He accepts us how we are.
- That makes us strong.
I want them to remember that their validation comes from God. He is our perfect Father, and His opinion is the only one that truly matters. Even when we don’t feel strong, He is inside us and makes us strong.
Dads – you have the amazing opportunity and awesome responsibility to be the representation of God to your boys. Take some time today to pray about how you can validate their inner strength and challenge them to grow. God wants us to be strong, and we ARE strong because He loves us! How do you help all the strong boys in your life, whether big or small, to remember these lessons?
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