Shaping Tomorrow’s Leaders: A Dozen Lessons from a Father’s Journey

In a world filled with ambiguity regarding gender roles and identities, it becomes even more essential to understand and impart the timeless and universal values that form the bedrock of a good man. From the biblical perspective, “God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them” (Genesis 1:27). From this divine blueprint arise traits such as bravery, self-control, kindness, ambition, responsibility, honesty, selflessness, industriousness, humility, generosity, and skillfulness.

So, how do we navigate this increasingly confusing landscape and guide our sons to embody these virtues? As a father of two grown sons, I’ve picked up a few strategies on my parenting journey that may serve as helpful pointers.

  1. Invite God Into Your Parenting: Children, as Psalm 127:3 tells us, are a “heritage from the Lord,” gifts to be nurtured with divine assistance. Cultivating a relationship with Christ enables us to parent with wisdom, love, and grace.
  2. Be the Mirror Your Sons Look Into: Your actions and attitudes are likely to be imitated by your children. It’s crucial to remain humble and open to correction, continually striving to improve as a person and parent.
  3. Demonstrate Love for Your Wife: Our children need to witness a healthy and loving relationship between their parents. This stability and affection give them a sense of security and a model for expressing their emotions.
  4. Audit Your Loves: What we cherish inevitably influences our children. Therefore, ensure your priorities reflect the values you wish to impart, like prioritizing family over career glory or excessive leisure activities.
  5. Learn from Past Mistakes: Be mindful not to replicate harmful patterns from your own upbringing. Pray and strategize to avoid these pitfalls, converting the dark paths of your past into sunlit trails for your sons.
  6. Invest More Time as They Age: As children grow older, they need and often crave more of your time. Staying engaged, being available, and fostering common interests can strengthen your bond and influence their development positively.
  7. Instill a Love for God’s Word and Worship: Regular family devotion times nurture your children’s faith and love for God’s Word. Incorporating discussions, prayer, and reading out loud from classics can create a deeply spiritual and educational environment.
  8. Work Together, Learn Together: By working alongside your sons, you equip them with valuable skills and a strong work ethic. This will instill confidence and competence, setting them up for success in the future.
  9. Promote Wise Media Consumption: Being discerning about media use provides a healthy example for our children. It allows us to guide them in setting their own boundaries while encouraging more productive interests.
  10. Keep it Physical: Physical contact is a potent expression of love. Hugs, playfights, and shared physical activities help reinforce the bond between father and son, offering reassurance and joy.
  11. Encourage Calculated Risks: Bravery is a virtue that can be cultivated by encouraging managed risks. Teach them to overcome fear through safe but challenging activities, from learning to swim to climbing rocks, fostering resilience and courage.
  12. Cultivate a Heart for Others: Teaching your sons to care for others and consider God’s will in their decisions ensures they grow up understanding the value of selflessness, empathy, and compassion.

Remember, this list is not exhaustive, and every parenting journey is unique. However, with prayer, effort, a heart open to self-sacrifice, and God’s grace, we can guide our sons to grow into the strong, virtuous men that the world so desperately needs.