Thursday, March 14, 2013

My Not So "Right" Rite of Passage

At Old Faithful during our big trip with Sequoia Brigade Camp
I was 16 when my mom realized that my brother Mike and I needed some sort of initiation into manhood. I love her to death and appreciate her desire to mark this important transition but to put it gently ... it made me feel about as manly as a killer whale in bloomers. Without getting into details, let’s just say it involved a cupcake. I think there was a candle in it. Now don’t get me wrong, I am a HUGE fan of cupcakes, but a cupcake, thrust at you unexpectedly as a symbol of your transition into manhood doesn’t scream dignity or masculinity. Other than the cupcake the only thing I really remember are her good intentions and the awkward feeling I had. The whole experience lacked a sense of genuineness. I did not feel like I had crossed over into anything except more adolescent awkwardness.

I still feel a pit of awkwardness in my stomach just thinking about it.

I agree with my mom’s intentions. It is vital to mark clearly for our children the moment we stop considering them children and start viewing them as young men and women.

So I have been thinking for many years about how to mark this important threshold for my own son. I had a lot of ideas but they all had at the center a few fundamental elements I thought were vital to make this authentic:
  1. I wanted the date to be significant rather than arbitrary
  2. I wanted this transition to be marked by a company of men, not just me
  3. I wanted the men present to be men who Josh respects and who are models to him
  4. I wanted food and drink, After all, we are Christians!

So on a Saturday evening a few weeks ago I invited 10 other men to come for a dinner that Josh and I prepared that would act as a commissioning ceremony welcoming him into the company of men on his 13th birthday.

All in all it was pretty simple. We ate well and during the meal the men who chose to do so had an opportunity to speak words of encouragement, counsel and warning into Josh’s life. With a number of pastors, elders and uncles in attendance there was no lack of words! I presented a book to Josh with additional words of advice from about 30 other godly men that I created on We sang some triumphant Psalms, prayed and then hung out for a bit.

Pretty simple but I think profound. It was so edifying to listen as a diverse group of men all encouraged and challenged my son to pursue a masculinity that models Jesus Christ. I kept looking at him to try and discern what he was thinking. His expression of soberness was punctuated by periodic moments of laughter but there wasn’t enough there for me to know for sure what he was thinking. I didn’t press the subject over the next day or two but my question was answered the following Monday when he came up to me to let me know that he’d set aside the time to read the book and had just finished.

I was thrilled but also a little surprised because if you know our friends many of them struggle with the art of brevity. Reading through that 50 page tome represented quite a commitment on his part.

Please be praying for Josh. God has blessed us with a fine young man who is already evidencing fruit of a life lived for God, but the battle for the souls of the next generation still rages and Josh is a target just as your sons are.

1 comment:

  1. Dear Greg,

    What an encouraging account of your love for your son and your desire, as his father, to initiate him into godly manhood through a commissioning ceremony with men of God in his life!!! I look forward to an event like this for each my sons when they are at that age. Thanks for sharing this tremendous testimony.

    Psalm 127:4 Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, so are the children of one's youth.

    Peter Lodenquai