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Encouragement for Young Men

October 10, 2014

Young men, I have some encouragement for you. Although you are growing up in a world whose spiritual and moral health are declining, in a society full of dangers for which you must watch, I can “encourage” you that there is a path through these adolescent and young adult years which can lead to a truly fulfilling life – not one full of disappointment with the emptiness of the world’s promises. It is also a path which honors and obeys God.

Of course your mother has a huge amount of wisdom for you as well from her perspective. As a father though I have gone through the same transition and have a familiarity with the rationales and general consensus which drive so much of the “worldly” advice through which you will be sifting over the coming years.

Worldview matters: the manner in which you make decisions is just as important as the specific decisions you make.

If you can learn to be skeptical of the world’s “common knowledge”, and to look to God’s Word as the foundation of your life, you will find true wisdom – yes, even for life in the 21st century. It was inspired by the Creator of the Universe!

Since you were very young the consensus worldview of our society has been influencing you, probably without you even realizing it. It didn’t require a conspiracy, only an age-old message that appeals to our sinful natures – the message that “You are the only important person in your life”.

Consider the underlying message in most mass-market movies and television shows: You deserve your satisfaction, your pleasure, your happiness – individually. Life is about grabbing pleasure and fun while you can. Commercial advertising’s focus is on creating a perceived need in you that their product or service can fill – ALL based on all the good things “you deserve”.

The truth: You deserve death and hell for your sins, and it is only God’s mercy that holds that back. As a man you have responsibilities to lead, protect and provide for your family – sacrificially.

From a clear understanding of this True reality, you are ready to consider how to go about your life, living obediently to the Savior who has saved your soul. What does the Word of God say about how you should spend your time, on what you should set your sights for your life, your marriage and your family?

This tide of selfishness has washed away the normative expectation that men will lead their families sacrificially – and it has been happening for many generations. One hundred years ago there were real reasons that the Suffragettes felt they needed to fight for women’s right to vote – consider the tragedy of their (sadly, justified) worry that the votes cast by their husbands and neighbors would not be in the best interests of protecting them and their children! But the fact that the world has largely departed from God’s ways does not mean that His ways are wrong, or that they can be “mixed” with secular values.

Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. — Matthew 7:13

Your entire life the world has been pushing a fake definition of female beauty at you that is entirely surface level. Pretty faces cover billboards, magazines, posters; they try to sell you products and services by creating “desire”.

Although you should do your best to think of young ladies just as friends and as someone else’s future wife, it is natural to feel an attraction – after all that is how God made us! But consider – when the time does come for you to consider the young ladies around you as a potential wife… to what should you really be attracted?

Consider the low self-esteem and the tragic thought process of the millions of young ladies who wake up every day determined to dress and act provocatively, so that as they go about their day, they can draw the attention of men – any and all men – to their body. …What is at work in their hearts? That desperation and insecurity is not fruit of an understanding of their place in God’s creation. Anyone joining their life to theirs is in for a bumpy ride caused by that insecurity – and through the years, that never-ending emptiness of vanity, chasing beauty as it drains away.

The tragedy of Samson’s life is a cautionary tale for judging beauty solely with the eyes (Judges 14:3b). By ignoring his parents’ cautions and choosing a wife with different beliefs solely because of her outer beauty, he fell into a trap which ultimately led to his enslavement and eventual death.

For the lips of a forbidden woman drip honey, and her speech is smoother than oil, but in the end she is bitter as wormwood, sharp as a two-edged sword. Her feet go down to death; her steps follow the path to Sheol; she does not ponder the path of life; her ways wander, and she does not know it. — Proverbs 5:3-6

The truth: True beauty, inner beauty of character, does not drain away but sweetens over the years. Consider the inner beauty of a Christian young woman who loves others as she loves herself. The Holy Spirit bears fruit in her every word and action. She is humble, caring, quick to laugh – even at herself – and quick to serve others. She puts them at ease with her grace and charm – without drawing attention to herself. She is a wonderful friend – loving and supportive, but also willing to encourage her friends to righteousness.

She is a faithful daughter, listening to her mother and trusting her father as the keeper of her heart, until the day comes when he can entrust it to her husband. She may or may not be physically beautiful in the eyes of the world; if she is in fact beautiful, she does not consider that the center of her being and identity, but only a minor blessing she did nothing to deserve. She does not dress to draw boys’ eyes to her body, but in modesty and purity.

A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies.
— Proverbs 31:10

Our culture peddles a caricature of love at first sight in stories and films. One is led to believe that physical “chemistry” is the only requirement for love not only to spark but to continue to burn bright throughout life.

The truth: When you meet the young lady with whom you think you might spend the rest of your life, the process should begin with learning about her family and meeting her father, before you treat her as anything more than a friend. And before you can approach her father about potentially starting a courtship, you need to ensure you are ready to lead a family, not just financially but spiritually

Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth. — Psalm 127:4

This famous bible verse creates a powerful analogy of a child being shot like an arrow into the world by his father. The more he is refined and straightened in childhood, the truer and farther the arrow will fly. But as you grow to manhood you transition from being that arrow; you want to build strength and wisdom to enable you to fill your new role: as the Warrior.

In addition to preparing for your career to support your future family financially, use these years as a young man to deepen your study of the Word of God to prepare to lead your family spiritually. This is your source of strength and wisdom, and never again in your life will you have the amount of time and the luxury to focus on this study like you have right now. This duty is in the very origins of the title of “father”, which in Scotch retains its original – “Faither”.

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. — 2 Timothy 3:16-17

The world has a long list of other options for spending (wasting) your time selfishly. The posting and reading of infinite trivial granuals on Facebook has become an addiction for millions of young people; some admit to spending 6 or more hours on Facebook every day! They take “selfies”, hoping to get compliments on how good they look. They post images of themselves in supposedly cool situations and poses, all in an effort to show others what a great life they are leading.

The truth: our time is our life! Wasting time in vain or insecure pursuits is a tragic use of the precious gift God has given us.

Making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. — Ephesians 5:16-17

Our society worships greatness in laughable and trivial forms. Greatness is worshipped in athletics, in lip-syncing music, in play-acting a role on the movie screen, in discovering an aspect of God’s creation never before understood, in finding ways to earn lots of money, and in politics following the instructions of campaign donors even while pretending to lead based on principle.

The truth: The only meaningful greatness which we can achieve is in glorifying God. In a complete reversal of the world’s thinking, this greatness is only reached when we put our personal desires to the side and commit our lives to obeying His Word; everything else is vanity.

The Christian man does not define greatness or success by the world’s standard, but by God’s. The Christian man understands that the testimony and blessings of a loving marriage and godly family define success more truly than one’s net worth or professional title. Worldly blessings may or may not be granted us by God, but they would never be worth subordinating our responsibilities to God, our wife or children to pursue.

For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul? — Matthew 16:26

There are and have been great men on this earth, but rarely are they acknowledged as such by our misguided culture. They are men of principle, taking responsibility for their own actions even as the world trains everyone else in how to deflect blame. Great men are willing to fight when the cause is just, but are also discerning about how easily we can rationalize and twist a tempting benefit to sound like a just cause. They are committed to acting uprightly; if they are persecuted they can persevere patiently, secure in the knowledge that they’ve acted rightly, and ready at any moment to give an account of their decisions.

Great men do not give up when they fail or when circumstances go against their best plans; they use those moments to refine their character, understanding that God has laid out a different path they must walk faithfully. They do not let sinful temptations of the flesh enslave their heart. Great men understand that God is glorified in faithful obedience, not in the world’s measure of results. They do not seek greatness, but are willing to attempt great things if they are necessary to stand for principle.

The boy who is going to make a great man must not make up his mind merely to overcome a thousand obstacles, but to win in spite of a thousand repulses and defeats. –Theodore Roosevelt

As Francis Schaeffer pointed out, the world has adopted an artificial distinction between the sacred and the secular. This takes various forms, from religious duty being pulled away from all but “professional” clergy, to the view that religious belief should be kept private and not influence a man’s actions in business, politics or the “real world”.

The truth: all of life is sacred, because it is given to us by our Creator. We are all called to minister to others, to love others as we love ourselves, to preach the Gospel and make disciples in all the nations.

The role of church elder is one which is specifically defined in Scripture, and God calls those to it whom He will, leading them inevitably to it by the Holy Spirit. But no matter whether you are “Called to the Ministry”, you are called to the ministry.

Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. — Matthew 28:19-20a

The pattern is pretty consistent: for nearly all of life’s major decisions, society is pushing young men in completely the wrong direction. This is not surprising given the dominance of sin and our economy’s desperate need to drive consumerism. The results of this push are clear to see: the moral decay of our society, a decrease in marriage rates and an extension of the damaging adolescent “hook-up” culture well into the late 20s. On a personal level the world’s prescribed lifestyle leads often to depression, rejection, and an unprecedented wasting of time in the young adult years which could be so much better spent. Young men, there is encouragement and wisdom in following God’s plan for your life – not the world’s!

Do not love this world nor the things it offers you, for when you love the world, you do not have the love of the Father in you. — 1 John 2:15

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. — Romans 12:2

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