It was 6 am and while the rest of my friends were sleeping in, dreaming of two weeks filled with Nintendo, cookies, and hanging out, I was putting on every layer of clothes I could find.
I was getting up and getting dressed against my will, forced to face a frigid environment with no bathrooms, no Christmas cookies, and hard, dirty labor. I didn’t like it one bit.
But I was doing it because my father made me do it. Yes, while every other junior high kid wasted away his Christmas break I was toiling on some construction site alongside my dad, a licensed plumber who owned his own business.
Dad had this antiquated idea that boys should learn how to work hard at a young age. I thought it was cruel and unusual punishment. But the older I have gotten, I now realize the treasure Dad gave me in teaching me through his example and his prodding the value of hard work. Dad was molding me into a man and I didn’t even know it.
I’m thirty-four years old now. I have four children of my own. I still hate working on construction sites, but the lessons of hard work have stayed with me. As a pastor, a writer, a father, a husband, I now see that Dad gave me something that few young men are privileged to have received.
Dad taught me how to be a man. By his example and by his personal mentoring.
Today, society is filled with men who are still little boys. I read somewhere that men ages 18-20 spend three hours a day playing video games. Recently legislation in Washington allowed children under 26 still living with their parents to be included on their parent’s health insurance. A plethora of articles and books and speeches of late have decried the rise of the “kidault”, the sort of inbetween adults who still act like kids.
Mostly it’s a problem among men. Men who refuse to work, who think life is all about play, who have never had the joy of sweating through a ten hour day and earning a paycheck. Sadly, its because many of them have never seen a man in their life model real authentic manhood.
If I could send one message to the young men of my generation it is this. It’s time for us to grow up and act like men. Sadly many Christian young men have succumbed to the cultural pressure to drift, have a lot of uncommitted sex, and live out the ethos of the latest slacker movie. There is something greater for us, men. It’s time to stand up and live out our calling. To work hard, to provide for those in our care, to love by sacrificing our bodies for the Lord and for His people.
Young guys, this is a high and worthy ideal. Don’t listen to what your friends, your music, or your flesh is telling you. God has something better. The gospel calls you to real manhood.
And if you had a dad who modeled this in your life, take time to thank him today.
Daniel Darling is an author, pastor, and public speaker. His latest book is Crash Course, Forming a Faith Foundation for Life. Visit him on Facebook by clicking here, follow on him on Twitter at twitter.com/dandarling, or check out his website: danieldarling.com.