You Are Not That Important. Initation, Part 2.

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 of trophiesPhoto 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.

Picture of a soldier carrying another soldier“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

  • Lkfischer

    Great post Dave,u00a0 I look forward to reading more on this topic.u00a0 I have three boys ages, 9, 6, and 3..u00a0 They are not yet at this point, but I agree completely with what you are saying.u00a0 Boys need to have some eye-opening experiences seeing how other people live with so much less.u00a0 Service trips are a great way to do this if they focus on the service to others and not the sight-seeing as you put it. Thanks for this post u00a0

  • Ben holbrook

    Hi Dave,

    Just stumbled across your blog recently and intend to follow becuse the themes are right where my heart is at.

    As a teacher (UK) i recognise that our culture including our education system tends to prioritise the individual. we encourage kids to aim high, to be anything they want, and that can motivate and help people run after their dreams.  however  its so important for us to realise that ultimately we are fragile and life does not revolve around me.

  • Thanks Ben.  I think you’re spot on–we’ve gone so far in trying to tell our kids they are valued, that we went too far and they forgot they still have a lot to learn…  

    (As we all do!)