Boyhood is a time of daring adventure, exploration, action and personal growth – that’s why adventure is a fundamental part of Trail Life’s mission. Adventure is a terrific way to capture the heart of a boy and teach important life lessons. Boys need godly men to lead the way. A boy without a mentor showing him the way is like an explorer without a compass, without a map.
The spiritual guidance that the Bible offers is so critical for young people today. A decade ago, I spent a year interviewing theologians, seminary professors, pastors, scholars, and counselors to ask them this question: What are the essentials a boy must understand to successfully navigate the journey to Biblical Manhood? I started out with a long list, and slowly narrowed it down to four Biblical essentials (points on a compass if you will) that a young man who is about to move to manhood must understand:
- Community: Remember what Jesus said when he was asked, "What's the greatest commandment?" Love God, love others. We were made for relationship; we were made to love. And what we must do is train children in knowing how to love God and how to love their fellow man.
- Character: This is choosing what's right, not what's wrong. It's being wise and not a fool as the book of Proverbs teaches. It’s an integral part of Trail Life’s identity! - “Adventure, Character, Leadership.” Wisdom is godly, skillful living in everyday circumstances.
- Commitment: When I developed this list in 1990, I had no way of knowing that over the next three decades, the issue of gender and sexual identity would become ground zero of the cultural battle. Your work with boys - to help them understand how God makes us. Understanding how we are created and the importance of marriage and commitment is more critical today than ever before.
- Commission: Ephesians 2:10 says, “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” We're not a random group of molecules. Our children need to know that they're created in God's image, and God has a purpose for them. And once they know this, then their mission is the great commission, Matthew 28: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
A generation is hanging in the balance. The world is trying to cause us to unplug. Don't do it. Too many men today are trading their sword for a nine iron. Mentoring and Discipleship are a great privilege and responsibility entrusted to us all. It's your assignment - and mine. We can't unplug from life.
I can't speak authoritatively on behalf of God, but it sure appears to me that Trail Life is doing this work, and doing it well.
You don't have to do it perfectly. You just have to do it. We're training the next generation to be warriors for Christ.