By Kevin Jackson
Hello! I am writing you as a man with many hats…Social Studies teacher, parent of two elementary-aged boys, and a man who cares about your sons. I am asking for your help.
I have learned as a teacher never to assume much of anything…so I won’t assume that you know about our Senior boys group known affectionately as ManLunch. I began this group in 2010 with one goal: to help the Senior boys learn what it means to be a man and to live out that manhood here at GCA (and outside of GCA) as an example to the younger generations of GCA boys and young men. We meet on Fridays at lunch and read through a book called Wild at Heart by John Eldredge. If you have not read this book, I recommend it with all of my heart. It has been life changing for me and my family. Reading it with your sons would be one of the best things you could do together!
Eldredge talks about two types of men that are frequently found in the world. First, there is the man who is insecure and hides that insecurity with overcompensating, constantly trying to prove how manly he is by being aggressive, never backing down from dares, being “macho” and living out a stereotypical-man type of life. The other type is the man who is insecure and hides it through passivity, neutrality, avoiding any kind of test or challenge, and in extreme cases escaping literally into femininity. Many a Christian man lives in one of these two worlds, or at the very least struggles with one of these two types of life.
But there is a third type of man…the man who loves God and lives free of these insecurities, the man who knows what he needs to do and does it well. The man who pursues the loves of his heart and lives out his calling to be a man of action and a man of holiness. This is what I do my best to teach your boys! I believe that this is what God wants for them and what you want for them.
I have given your boys a challenge. Every senior class has its struggles; this one is no different. But the POTENTIAL in this year’s room of seniors is unbelievable. They are so skilled, so gifted, so dedicated in so many areas. They have great families and great opportunities to succeed. But like so many men (myself included!), they struggle with being one of those first two types of men. Personally I struggle with the passive man more than the aggressive man. Where does your son stand? We are all in a war between that passive or that aggressive man and the third type, the man of God.
I am writing to request your help and ask you to partner with me this year.
My goal is not in any way to pass judgment on the raising of your sons…I can’t speak truth in that area because I simply don’t know. I know that you all love your sons very much and that you have done a great job raising them and creating environments for them to thrive and succeed. We all know that in this world, that is an achievement itself and should not be taken for granted. Good work! They are all great boys.
But my challenge to the boys was to a higher calling of excellence. The struggle with this group is that even the “best” is often the young man who is “neutral,” the one who didn’t do the action that caused the trouble but didn’t stop it either. The church, the school, your family, their friends…they all need more than this! We need men of holiness AND men of action…those who know the right thing and do the right thing and not just lead by example but lead through words and actions. My challenge to them was to act like the men of God they are and meet their potential. They pursue it so easily in the classroom, on the field, on the court, in the social world…but it is easy to avoid spiritually.
My request is this: Will you partner with me and your sons in this challenge? Will you pray with me for your sons? Will you call them to action? Will you lead the way as examples? Will you reward them for an active pursuit of manhood as Christ taught us? Will you punish them for bad choices so that they can see the consequences? Will you make a deliberate effort to do this for your sons? I know that you are and have been doing this! Keep it up! But if you can seek out deliberate ways to reinforce this during this year of their lives…even just spending deliberate time with them…these things make a difference! I can preach it for 30 minutes on Fridays but you have so much more impact living it for them 24/7!
There is so much that this class can do and we need them to do it. The sophomore boys are watching and learning…they are “mini-me’s” of the Seniors in so many ways! They need more than just a neutral Senior leader, they need a group of Senior boys who are doing the right things and encouraging others to do it too…and stopping those in their group from jumping off the proverbial cliff.
I am on your team. We all need each other. Our school needs your young men, your family needs your young men, our world needs your young men!
Thanks for all that you do. I have two young sons and am only beginning to appreciate the struggles that can come with the raising of young men of God.
If I can help you in any way, I will. This is a passion of my life and I want the best for your sons!!!!
I would like to give full credit to these concepts where it deserves to be given. First to John Eldredge and Ransomed Heart ministries in Colorado. His books and their resources have been life changing for me, my church and my family. Everything I say is a modified version of his concepts, adapted to my current time and place and audience. Without his words and work, ManLunch wouldn’t exist and my vision would be blurry.
And secondly, but most importantly, to the teachings of Christ, where Eldredge readily places his credit. As he said at a conference I attended two years ago, “We (Ransomed Heart) are just people who found a treasure hidden in a field and want to share it with anyone who wants some of it.” Without Christ’s example of what it means to be a husband and a man (and a person!), we are all lost!
Kevin Jackson is a Social Studies teacher at GCA (GreenwoodChristianAcademy) in Indianapolis, IN, USA. His sons also attend GCA. This letter went out to the parents of Senior boys at GCA.