“You shall teach them diligently to your sons.” ~ Deuteronomy 6:7a
I don’t know about you, but I think raising sons is sometimes harder than raising daughters. I’ve always felt like I must offer instruction to my daughters about what it takes to be a man, a husband, a father, a head of household leader because they don’t know what it means to be any of these things. God made them girls who by His grace and blessing will grow to be women. They’ll never be men, so I need to tell them what to expect and give them a strong example followed by words of wisdom.
For the boys, it just seems like these things ought to be innate within them and so it’s not so much for me to teach them as to let them grow, guiding them every once in awhile by example.
I mean, I can’t really remember my dad ever sitting me down and giving me a life lesson, except for the time that I asked him what “human sexual reproduction” meant because what I’d just read in the encyclopedia couldn’t really be true, could it, that’s just gross.
In this case, I’d asked my mom first (she was home and he was at work), and she later sent me to talk with my father. Now this isn’t to say that my dad and I didn’t have life-lesson talks from time to time, but I just don’t really remember them that way. And so, I’m sometimes reluctant to talk with my boys.
Perhaps you feel like this, too. Yes, you’ve grown up to be a man, a husband and a father, but what do you know about parenting boys? Somehow you turned out OK (did you?) and so won’t they? Won’t they just grow up on their own the way we did?
But this is absolutely wrong, and it’s definitely not Biblical.
God tells us that we are to teach our sons diligently. Merriam-Webster Dictionary tells us that the word “diligent” means “characterized by steady, earnest, and energetic effort.” It offers the word “painstaking” as a synonym. Painstaking! That basically means doing it until it hurts, and then doing it more!
God tells us through Moses in Deuteronomy 6:6-7:
“These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up.”
In short, you should never stop teaching your sons what God expects of them. Never, ever, ever, ever until the end of time or you breathe your last breath.
Specifically, God is reminding the Israelites that He is their God and that they shall love Him with all their hearts, souls and might. It’s called the “Shema” and to this day, orthodox Jews wrap these words around their arms and hands and foreheads so that they’re never forgotten or far away. There may not be a more important verse to them.
These verses are still super important to us as Christians, and they should be the basis of any instruction we give to our children, but it doesn’t stop there. What I’m saying is this: You want to raise strong, God-fearing boys? Then you need to be diligent in everything you do and say every single day of their lives. In this world, it’s a never-ending battle with Satan, society and sin, and if you’re not painstaking in your efforts, your boys are liable to get sucked down to the bottom with the sinking ship.
I’m not trying to scare you or appear melodramatic. These aren’t my words. They are God’s. Again:
“You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up.”
Tell me, in this passage, straight from the Lord’s lips, when does He suggest we rest? God says to teach them at home, outside of the house, before bed and immediately upon waking. Sounds pretty 24/7 to me.
If there is one thing we should know — and trust — from the Bible, it is that it’s way too easy to forget God’s blessings and direction and fall into sin. We also should know that it’s much easier to stay out of a hole than to climb out of one once we’ve fallen.
Now, this isn’t to say that your sons aren’t going to sin. They are, they will. We’re sinners, and it’s the only thing we know how to do without God’s help. But I promise you — God promises you — that taking these steps with our sons is essential for their survival.
“So the Lord commanded us to observe all these statutes, to fear the Lord our God for our good always and for our survival, as it is today. It will be righteousness for us if we are careful to observe all this commandment before the Lord our God, just as He commanded us” (Deuteronomy 6:24-25).
Not sure where to start or how to incorporate this into your day? Pray about it. Find any moment and remind your son what God expects of Him and let it flow from there. Trust me, the more you do it, the less awkward it will feel and the more they will come to expect it. Is it tough? Does it feel like life is too busy for this? Yeah, in a lot of ways on a lot of days.
But you’ve got to try. You owe it to your sons as well as to our God.
Today’s piece was taken from Christopher’s book “Raising Sons.” It is a companion piece to his other book “Raising Daughters.” While written to dads, these books make a great family read, complete with Bible readings, study questions and prayerful reflection. From now until Father’s Day, both are available at a discount price by clicking here.