There is no doubt of a father’s role in the wise emotional and spiritual upbringing of their children. There are some universal essentials particularly for all of us sons. ◊
I moderated a Connect Silicon Valley Engage interview this week with a program manager working for Tesla, the electric car company.1 Allen McClinton is the son of a Baptist pastor from Florida. He was an athlete in college before serving in the Marines and then ultimately finding his way to the hard-charging world of Silicon Valley startups and technology companies.
Allen himself now has 3 children and is raising them up in the ways of the Lord.
His personal story detailed family blessings and racial prejudice he faced. He also highlighted receiving leadership and mentoring in faith by his father and other key male father-figure influences in the Marines and businessworld.
Triggered by but beyond our discussion, I’m prompted here to highlight key essentials of fathering young boys and men.
Where’s the Fathering Playbook?
If you’re looking for how to raise a good son, it’s actually in the Bible. Unfortunately, it’s really easy to miss, though quite simple to understand. But it’s difficult to do.
Here is the starting point. In the Old Testament, the entire Jewish nation was instructed specifically to observe the teachings of God. They were to:
“Fix these words of mine to your hearts and minds…Teach them to your children and speak of them as you sit in your house, as you walk along the road, as you lie down, and as you get up.” (Deuteronomy 11:18-19)
In other words, all the time.
The children were to be thoroughly immersed in this teaching. Each father, as the family spiritual head, is to be living and walking testimony of the ways of the Lord.2
The essence of these teachings was belief in and reverence of God and obedience to His teachings (the Ten Commandments summarize God’s statutes and ordinances for healthy living for all mankind). And be clear that we are not today tied to Old Testament Jewish law.
Healthy Essentials for Sons
As sons are to be eventual heads of household domains, these teachings apply today as much as they did in the past. In that light, keeping it simple, here are 4 key essentials I believe fathers should pass down to sons:
- A Godly Worldview – modern fathers should instill a God-fearing worldview and initiate young men into the ways of the Lord and their Biblically ordained roles as men, husbands and fathers.
- A Masculine Model – young men need an instructional life guide and a way of behavior that is ideally modeled by their father as a living example and supported by the Word of God.
- A Purposeful Vision – in light of the Christian worldview, young men are to be taught something to live for beyond their own selfish wants and desires.
- A Valued Competence – young boys/men need to hear from their father that they are a source of fatherly pride, that they “have what it takes” in real and perceived value and worth as a young man coming into their own.
Lifelong Impact for Better or Worse
Think of the impact on young men if all fathers were solid in their own life perspective to pass on these essentials to their young sons. My own father came to Christian knowledge and a saving faith late in life – six months before he died. He meant well and did his best with the worldly equipping from his own father, but in my youth he did not come close to possessing this type of Biblical wisdom. His father never taught him.
Some wise teachers, coaches, pastors and mentors taught me some elements of this, but not to the impact and effect had it come directly from my father.
What is ideal – and what Scripture instructs – is that a father should pass this down. This heightens the chance that it will take hold deep inside teachable, yearning and learning young hearts. I myself learned it eventually after too many years, particularly by way of Biblical teaching and brotherly fellowship with other Christian men.
By the way, Allen McClinton readily admits that he was fathered well, but as he shared in his testimony, he made his own choices that led him astray before returning to the deep faith of his youth. The foundation was laid well; he only needed his own “Come to Jesus” epiphany to fully surrender his heart, mind, and will to God.
And that’s the ongoing hope and prayer of any godly father.
As a father, are you teaching these essentials to your sons?
“Hear, O sons, a father’s instruction, and be attentive, that you may gain insight, for I give you good precepts; do not forsake my teaching. When I was a son with my father, tender, the only one in the sight of my mother, he taught me and said to me, “Let your heart hold fast my words; keep my commandments, and live. Get wisdom; get insight; do not forget, and do not turn away from the words of my mouth.” – Proverbs 4:1-5
1 Shaped Out of Brokenness, a Connect Silicon Valley ENGAGE interview with Allen McClinton by Michael Griego and Ana Gonzalez, April 29, 2021.
2 NOTE: The “ways of the Lord” as laid out in Deuteronomy and passed on from God to Moses to the Israel nation as the Law, is part of God’s Covenant agreement with Abraham (Genesis 12:2) and his chosen family through which would come the birth of Jesus, the Redeemer of the world. Forgiveness of sins through Jesus is God’s New Covenant, the spiritual fulfillment of the Abrahamic covenant.