I think we don’t look enough into our little boy’s face and see the man, or into our daughter’s and see the woman. Enjoying and celebrating their childhood is normal and good, but it can be too easy to hover there, forgetting the goal, forgetting to grow them up, forgetting they are men and women in the making, even now.
Stephen Mansfield’s book, Mansfield’s Book of Manly Men, (run, and do not walk, to Amazon to buy this book) has rekindled a vigor in me to raise men, reminding me of how desperately our society depends on it. Mansfield, a brilliant writer and a godly man, gives four “maxims” of manhood.
One of them is this: “Men tend their fields.”
Mansfield explained that he was a bad defensive player in football until one of his genius coaches taught him an important life lesson. He drew a box on the field and told him, “This is your territory. Don’t let anyone in here. Guard it, protect it. It’s yours.” Once, when he let a player through with the ball, the coach told him to meet him on the field the next cold, November morning. When they met, the coach handed Mansfield a pair of scissors and told him he wanted him to “mow” his patch. He said if he took care of it, he would be more likely to guard it. It took Mansfield a week or so to cut all the blades of grass in his patch of field. The plan worked and Mansfield said he became obsessive about that patch. No one ever crossed it again.
Real men own their territories (whatever that is, in each season of life). They guard it, take responsibility for it, care for it, protect it, nurture it and love it.
It’s action. Men do. Real men act like men.
And it shouldn’t come as a surprise, that if we don’t teach them to act like men now, they likely won’t suddenly turn into men as adults.
To tend fields, they must be given fields. From a young age, we can get them practicing responsibility for their fields in their bedrooms, their hygiene, their schoolwork and their chores or jobs. As they become men and learn how to take responsibility for their fields, they grow into men who will do likewise with their families.
We can’t coddle them, tend their fields for them or cushion them from consequences. To do that is to castrate them and set them toward failure. We have too many men who don’t know what it means to have a fierce loyalty to his family, understanding the buck stops with him, because he was never taught the importance of tending his field.
There is a gross misunderstanding by feminists and the feminist-minded that take-charge men are bullies. Some males are bullies, but those aren’t men. (Raising Men in a Man-Hating World)
Real men don’t abdicate or dictate, or wait on someone else or shift blame when things go wrong, or become apathetic. They take charge, they own their responsibility and they nurture those in their care. They emulate Christ who described himself as a shepherd. He owned his field. He tended his flock. The call to men is still the same.
If we don’t have a proper understanding of what a man is supposed to be, we raise our boys wrong. I am challenged to parent with the end in mind. To build habits in my little boys that will grow and serve them in manhood. Do you realize that our work now will greatly impact their wives and children?
A whole generation depends on our vigilance.