I have often taken for granted the knowledge that my dad passed down to me through just watching him work in the garage, in the back yard, or even getting ready in the morning. I don’t remember dad saying, “son, let me show you how to check the oil.” Rather, I just remember wanting to be where he was and doing what he did.
The generation in which we live now is much different than the one I grew up in. As a matter of fact, it is more common today to find that “dad” is no where to be found and young men are being raised by mom or grandma. This is even more a reality among the Xhosa people here in South Africa where we minister.
I now have a 10 year old, a 5 year old, and a 2 year old; all boys! I praise the Lord for them! I enjoy hearing them wrestle. I enjoy watching them pick up rocks, or make “stick knives.” I’m glad when they walk in with a scraped up knee from jumping off something they probably shouldn’t had!
I am also very concerned about them being prepared for life! A life, that in many ways, is harder than what I live with. A life that because of society, dilutes and minimizes the importance of being a man. With convenience at our fingertips, safe spaces in which to retreat, and regulations that prevent hurt feelings; is it a wonder that no one knows how to do anything for themselves?!
Below are 10 basic lessons that I want and purpose my sons to know before they leave my house:
- Proper personal hygiene. Your body is the temple of God, you are not your own, you are bought with a price! Take care of yourself! There is absolutely no reason at all that a young man should not know how to wash, shave, put on deodorant, or brush his teeth! But these are things that must be taught and I have a responsibility as a dad to teach my boys!
- Iron your clothes. Granted, I have a loving, caring, serving wife; and she will make sure that my pants and shirts are ironed! That does not give me an excuse not to know how, and know how to do it right!
- Make your bed. Long before the Army taught me to make a bed so tight that you could bounce a quarter off, and long before I knew that the collar of the sheets should be 6 inches in width; my mom and dad taught me to make my bed! I remember as a kid, my favorite part was tucking my 45 degree corners and seeing a crisp, tight crease at the foot!
- Cook on a charcoal grill. One of the ways my dad and I bonded was around the grill or in the kitchen. He enjoyed cooking. He really enjoyed smoking meat! I remember on Thanksgiving and Christmas, people from his work placing orders for him to smoke turkeys. Some of the best advice and conversation I ever had was around some hot coals. These are memories that I carry with me to this day!
- Drive a manual transmission. “If you can drive a stick, you can drive anything!” These words have stayed with me my whole life. He also taught me, “in most cases, you don’t need 4 wheel drive if you can drive a stick!” That hasn’t always been true for me, but mostly… 🙂
- PMCS (Preventative Maintenance Checks and Services) on your car. Again, before the Army showed me how to do PMCS on HUMVEES and the old k5’s; dad and I were working on old CJ 5’s and CJ 7 jeeps. Check the oil, make sure there’s coolant in the radiator, brake fluid, and if you’re fortunate enough, power steering fluid!
- Sharpen a knife. This one is a big deal for me, because I love knives! Knives are a tool. They are one of the oldest tools man has been known to use. Today, people think you are crazy if you carry a pocket knife…until they need to cut something, then they ask “anyone have a knife?” I like to carry an opinel #7 because of the good steel (high carbon), the open and close lock position, and they run about $10, so if you lose one or break it, it’s not a big deal. However, a dull knife is a dangerous knife! Learn to keep it sharp! And with certain steels, keep them oiled.
- Kill, clean, and cook something. Anything! A fish, a deer, a rabbit…anything! You will appreciate everything about it more! I still remember the first fish Peyton caught. We were with my friend Nathan Gregory in Michigan. It was a great day for Peyton, it was a better day for me!
- Accept responsibility, and learn to apologize! Unfortunately, today, everyone else is to blame, someone else owes you something, no one knows what personal responsibility is. When other’s money is used up, when “free” whatever is gone; what will you do? Take responsibility for yourself! Learn to say, “I’m sorry.” Usually, many of our problems can be quickly and quietly fixed with those two words. I think there’s a verse in the Bible about that… “A soft answer turneth away wrath:”? Proverbs 15:1
- Teach others also. 2 Tim 2:2 is the crux of my ministry philosophy. Pour my life, bible, character, faithfulness, service, etc. into young men that will be able to teach others as well! Your greatest disciples are your children…teach them! I want my sons to know how to do these basic things as men, but I also want them to be able to teach them to their sons one day! If we are to continue long after we are dead and gone, then the torch must be passed from generation to generation!