Cultivating a Culture of Courage in Boys
“I must uphold my ideals, for perhaps the time will come when I shall be able to carry them out” Annie Frank
I can recall a small boy in a field somewhere, ages ago, tending to his father’s sheep. Yes, a shepherd boy, of the linage of Jessie, Israel’s future king, guarding a flock with all diligence. He was not the “best of the lot”. Well, at least where his family was concerned. You see, the purpose of God tends to find us in the customary, commonplace of our daily existence. Winston Churchill said it best, “the price of greatness is responsibility.” The path to courage is defined by responsibility. “We are made wise not by the recollection of our past, but by the responsibility for our future,” remarked the late 18th-century literary critic, George Bernard Shaw.
Tending to the flock of his father, David had space to develop his character as a courageous leader. Biblical courage is defined as the ability to do something brave out of motivation in the heart. Good courage always relies upon the supernatural empowerment of God to strengthen and motivate one’s self to be courageous as children of God (Romans 5:3-5). Bad courage relies on human abilities and motives such as the lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes, and pride (James 1:19-27; 1 John 2:15-16).
Following from his experience with defending his father’s flock, David was able to use his past experiences of defeating a bear and a lion, through divine empowerment, to face greater challenges in his future. David realized that divine empowerment came from God to subdue a lion and a bear. His confidence and courage were in God to give him sufficient power to fight a much larger enemy. This shepherd boy realized that the infinite and limitless power of God is constant, but the finite and frail chant of the enemy takes different forms. Some enemies may take the form of a bear, others a roaring lion, while some may parade as a champion giant. Regardless of the form, God empowers his brave soldiers with the courage to defeat them all.
The way to engender a culture of courage in our little boys is to provide a space where they are first taught about the Lord Jesus Christ and the empowerment his spirit provides. Where they begin to see themselves as children of a GREAT GOD, their confidence will begin to grow. Notice that David knew about the power of God before his challenges came. This is the error of almost all Christian parents. The teaching, training, and mentorship that boys need, should be engraved into their faculties from birth! Do not wait until they are at puberty.
As we teach and mentor our boys, through training, we provide a space where they are given RESPONSIBILITIES and held ACCOUNTABLE. I would not advise us to micro-manage boys! This strips them of their innate virtues of being natural problem-solvers and independent thinkers. Boys are naturally territorial and this is a feature of their inbuilt instinct to protect. As they are groomed however, they should be taught how to convert this feature into a positive attribute.
We will continue to explore the “Description of Masculinity” in subsequent publications.