AN IDEA FOR DADS WHO WANT TO MENTOR THEIR KIDS, BUT DON'T KNOW WHERE TO START
One habit I have cultivated with my son since he was five is to study the book of Proverbs together with him. In Bible times, kids were supposed to have chapters 1–9 mastered by puberty. Proverbs is the most practical book in the Bible, filled with specifics on how to honor God in every situation.
Typically on my days off or on Saturday mornings, I wake up Ty early and we head to the nearest donut shop with a 1) Bible; 2) journal; 3) pen; and 4: a few dollars. We started with the cast of characters: the wise man, the fool, the prudent, the naive, the wicked, the scoffer, the sluggard, and the harlot, as well as verses like “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom” (9:10).
Even before he could read or write, I would read specific proverbs to him and lead a discussion about different scenarios he would face where that truth would spare him from sin’s consequences, while he drew a picture of the concept as he munched on chocolate-glazed donuts with sprinkles.
Ty knows how to avoid the seductive woman, how to use his money, what to look for in a real friend, how to work hard, be generous, honor others, and live his life in the conscious presence of the God he loves and fears disappointing. My goal is that when he turns 18 and leaves our home, he will have a head full of truth that entered his ears when he was little and made the 18-inch trek to his heart.
I would commend this to you as a dad, especially if you are looking for a solid starting point for discipleship. It’s easy, requires little preparation, and has both short and long-term impact. If you are all there mentally (cell phone down), transparent and real about your need for these truths (even if they are basic reminders), and consistent (make this a regular weekly or even monthly priority), the impact will be enormous.
You are free to run with it on your own, but here’s what I have done, starting with Lesson 1 (take it and make it better):
Introduce him (or her) to the list of characters in the Bible, both good and bad, and then go back and drill down on each one specifically the next time you meet. First, the big overview, and then in order one by one. I suggest you briefly discuss:
A. The Wise — the one who hears God’s word and does it in all of life (offer a small example of an area of life where God wants to be honored such as the use of the tongue, attitude towards difficult people, etc.).
B. The Fool — opposite of the wise man, who lives like there is no God (perhaps ask your child what happens to someone who lives like God doesn’t matter; tell him why God matters in your home).
C. The Scoffer — the fool who has hardened his heart harder, and hates God and His truth (have some fun by trying to imagine what kind of face a scoffer makes — maybe snap a picture and put it in the journal).
D. The Prudent — says, “I will always do what is right!” (I would make this a mantra that you teach him to say, and then use throughout the week again when the moment calls for it). He does the right thing, at the right time, with the right people, in the right way, for the right reason.
E. The Naïve — the opposite of the prudent, this simple person has not chosen in advance whether he will walk the right path or the wrong path, so eventually ends up on the wrong path (perhaps use an illustration like a boat in a storm with no rudder, sail, or compass).
F. The Righteous — is committed to live in obedience to God no matter how hard or painful it will be (relate to your child about the pull of temptation and how strong it can be to cave into sin — like lying to get out of trouble or cheating on a test).
G. The Wicked — the opposite of the righteous, he is dark, loves only his own happiness, and is dangerous to everyone around him; he uses and abuses others (describe the dangers of evil and warn him or her about the consequences of being around such a person — maybe like a reckless driver on the road who injures others as a form of delight; perhaps some movie villains or dark characters that come to mind can offer a contrast to the godly boy or girl).
H. The Diligent — the hard worker, that God rewards (God made us to work hard and do our best in sports, school, at church, at home, everywhere. God sees and God honors). Remind him that you are watching too and will reward diligence (my son loves cash and legos).
I. The Sluggard — He is the opposite of diligent; the lazy person always makes excuses for why he won’t do anything except what most pleases himself. He works at his play and plays at his work (see if he can think of an example of a lame excuse for doing what’s important).
J. The Virtuous Woman — the kind of woman you want to see and honor in your mom and sister(s), and the kind of woman you want to marry. She is kind, gentle, respectful, hard-working, modest, honest, and loyal.
K. The Harlot — the opposite of the virtuous woman, the kind you want to run away from as fast as you can. She promises pleasure and brings you great pain. She wants to be immodest and sin with her body. If you linger, she will catch and devour you (talk about how scary it would be to be in a dangerous place from which you could never escape).
This should take you about 2-3 donuts and a glass of milk. Be sure to have fun, write these down in the journal, mark the date and where you went so you can relive the memories. Remind you child that you love him or her and thank them for their time.
In follow up blogs, I will paint each of these characters in greater detail and offer some practical insights for you as you instill these lessons into your child.
Want more mentoring tips or helps on other topics? Check out the book Seven Friendships Every Man Needs. You can get it, and other practical resources at: justin-erickson.net.