This blog is part of my continuing series on initiation. Please check out part one, which gives an introduction and talks about how we have to show boys that Life Is Hard
“All I know is that there IS a God, and I’m not him.” – Author Unknown
God Doesn’t Owe You Anything
I tell a story when I teach about serving others: Joel Osteen, in his book Your Best Life Now gives a lesson on how not to impress as a Christian:
Osteen tells of not wanting to check an expensive television camera on a flight to India. The counter clerk insists that the airline’s policy strictly forbids him from it carrying on, and Osteen asks if he can talk to someone else. A pilot walks up and offers to stow the camera behind the cockpit.
“The woman behind the counter glared at me and shook her head, clearly aggravated,” Osteen writes. “I just smiled and said, ‘Sorry, ma’am; it’s the favor of God.” Or was it simply that an observant pilot intervened to prevent an unnecessary conflict (which some planning on Osteen’s part could have prevented) from escalating?
Above quote taken from Douglas LeBlanc’s 2005 review here
Now to me, this story just smacks of entitlement, not favor. This reads like someone who has started believing in his own celebrity, not someone who is a humble servant. For boys about to become men, they have to realize something: You Are Not That Important.
Photo credit:Kinho Pizzato
You Are Not That Important
I know that every Mommy wants her little Timmy to feel good about himself, so why shouldn’t he get a trophy?! But this mentality has become ingrained in children today: “I deserve a trophy, I played just as hard”… “Why does Sally get a trophy and not me?” … when our children realize that life is hard and life isn’t fair, they begin to get a realistic world view that they are not the center of the universe. Shocker.
As a parent, I want the best for my kids. But I have to weigh that against the fact that I must teach them this concept. As parents we can’t give our kids everything they want.
How Do We Teach This Today? By Serving.
“Adulthood” is a transition from a me-centered life to an others-centered life. The way to instill this into children, into boys who are becoming men, is to teach them to serve. We have to re-align our sons’ brains to think of others first.
So we teach our children to share their toys, and to give instead of horde presents at Christmas, and to help others in need.
An initiation must include an element of serving others. If the initiation is a physical journey or task, integrate an activity of physically carrying others, like a fireman’s carry up a mountain. If the initiation is a missions trip, make sure it’s a service trip, not a sightseeing one. And as parents, leaders, and mentors we must model servanthood daily in everything we do.
Okay, what do you think? What is a good “rite of initiation” into manhood that teaches boys to serve others before themselves?
Continue the series on Initiation here: Your Life Is Not About You