Imagine your prayers for a boy you see at Church one Sunday being answered by that boy coming back to Church again and again. Then more of your prayers being answered by that boy coming to know Jesus Christ as his Savior and being baptized. Then watch that young lad grow into manhood, as he sits under preaching, as he observes the lifestyles and practices of the older men in the Church, as he is taught God’s Word, and as he is discipled.
I can promise you that the greatest obstacle to his spiritual life that he will face from within the congregation will be those men he looks up to who disappoint him. He is likely already used to being disappointed by his dad, by his uncles, and by his mom’s various boyfriends. But when he sees the admired man who is a Church member drop the ball of faithfulness, consistency, or leadership in his home, the boy will be faced with his greatest temptation to slide from discouragement into skepticism and cynicism. Understand that skeptics and cynics are men whose hopes were dashed and whose expectations were crushed by someone when they were lads. The importance of consistent godliness is thereby seen.
Consider the thrill of being a part of that young man’s life. You greet him every time you see him. He sees that he is important to you and the other grown men whom he admires and hopes to someday be like. Eventually, he begins to consider the claims of Christ and is converted and baptized. Then come those challenging years when everyone who knows him outside Church, and the raging hormones of biology, combine to challenge him to forsake the faith. What gets him through it, by God’s grace? God may very well use you. Perhaps you are the man he most looks forward to seeing, to reach out to with his hand to shake, and to be treated with respect and love, as he is invited into this fraternity of Christian manhood the Devil both hates and fears. Maybe you are the encouragement he needs. You may be the one man in his life who has no desire to take his dad’s place, who has no desire to be an indulgent uncle type, but who longs to be the young fellow’s brother in Christ who walks alongside him on the pathway of life to help him grow to real Christian manhood.
Consider two things as you ponder your life and your predictable encounters with the lad at Church: First, unless you are willing to allow someone to play that role in your life, you will never, ever, be prepared to play that role in someone else’s life. That is a role God wants for you. Don’t you think it’s about time, regardless of what anyone else in your life has to say about it, that you stepped up and began preparing for the rest of your life this side of eternity? What am I challenging you to do? I am challenging you to take the next step in your Christian life to begin discipling someone. Following is a poem I received only yesterday that applies not only to fathers and sons, but also to Christian men and the boys who look up to us.
“THAT LITTLE BOY WHO FOLLOWS ME”
A careful man I want to be,
A little youngster follows me.
I do not dare to go astray,
In fear he might go that same way.
I cannot once escape his eyes,
And what he sees me do he tries.
Like me he says he wants to be,
That little boy who follows me.
Now he thinks that I’m so big and fine,
He believes every single word of mine.
Lord, the bad in me please don’t let him see,
I wish that I could much stronger be.
I must remember as I go through summer’s sun and winter’s snow,
I’m molding for eternity
That little boy who follows me.
Yes, I’m molding for eternity,
That little boy that follows me.
- Harlan Howard, an icon of country music songwriters
Second, where, other than the Church of Jesus Christ, can a boy be transformed by God’s grace into a man, a real man, a man fitted for eternity and useful to God until he reaches eternity? Only in Christ’s Church are the eternal considerations, the spiritual aspects of life, addressed intentionally so that a lad, a young man, or any man will become a Christian man, who will then be trained to walk worthy of God Who has called us unto His kingdom and glory.