SIDEBAR: What Young Boys and Fatherless Sons Need Most

Enrichment journal asked Kenny Luck …

Q: What does ministry to fatherless boys look like and involve, in your opinion?

A: The most powerful example is when God the Father blesses and commends God the Son, with God the Holy Spirit present, in Matthew 3:16,17.

It has within it the core elements of interactions intended to fortify any young man — or older man, for that matter — concerning what God created him to be. There is a special moment where a special voice speaks into the heart of a son. We also see a special name given, along with a special love and a special blessing.

A moment. A voice. A name. A love. A blessing.

All young boys need moments, masculine voices, conferred identity and sonship, masculine love, and validations that bless them from another man.

In Matthew 3, Jesus had yet to preach one message, perform one miracle, heal one person, or forgive one sinner. Perhaps the affirmation He heard from His Father provided the resolve He needed to go, to be, and to do the very things that were purposed for Him from the beginning.

If God spoke such affirming words about Jesus, then such words are also beneficial for every man to gain the courage and confidence to fulfill God’s purpose in his life.

Q: How important is it for a boy to hear from his father or another man that he looks up to about “manhood”? What happens if a boy does not hear from another man on this issue?

A: I would reframe it this way. Every son or boy is hearing from his father or peers about what it means to be a man, through what he sees being modeled.

The question is not: Should sons or boys hear from us about manhood? The question is: What are they already learning from us or from their relational environment about manhood — directly and indirectly? Modeling, not talking, is the most powerful channel for reproducing healthy or unhealthy masculinity. Modeling plus talking is optimal. Talking or instructing minus modeling creates confusion and latent anger at the hypocrisy.

The lesson is this: Dads or mentors cannot give away to their sons or mentees what they do not possess. A baseline of integrity is required to get moral traction. For a son to “hear” it, the father — or father figure — needs to “live” it.

Kenny Luck, men’s pastor at Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, California, and founder and president of Every Man Ministries.