190 - Encourage Young Men...
|Written by David Delk|
|Wednesday, October 20 2010 00:00|
Encourage Young Men...
by David Delk
Similarly, encourage the young men to be self-controlled. In everything set them an example by doing what is good. In your teaching show integrity, seriousness and soundness of speech that cannot be condemned, so that those who oppose you may be ashamed because they have nothing bad to say about us. Titus 2:6-8
What do you think is the most common question we hear from church leaders? That's right, "How do I get more young men involved?" It seems that all across the country men's groups and men's events are filled with "seasoned" men. Thank God for these men - they are a solid foundation for many churches. But if we don't figure out the deal with young men, in thirty years a lot more churches will have been sold and turned into night clubs and bowling alleys.
Last summer I experimented with a simple idea that turned out amazingly well. It ended up being one of the best experiences I have ever had as a father, so I wanted to share it with you. While this idea doesn't pretend to be a comprehensive solution to the problem of reaching young men, it will give you a practical plan to impact the lives of a few young men at a time.
My son was just finishing his freshman year at college and planning to return home for the summer. He'd been able to line up a summer job in Orlando and I was praying and thinking about ways for us to connect while he was home. I knew that he would likely be very busy between catching up with old friends, our vacation schedule, a few trips he had planned, and his work. So I wanted to be intentional but also simple.
I believe the Lord gave me an idea: try to schedule six or eight breakfasts with committed Christian men I knew in the community. The three of us would meet for a one-hour breakfast and they could share their story and a few key principles that they found helpful in living out their faith.
I knew it was the right time in my son's life - it wouldn't have been the same while he was still in high school, and it probably would not have been as effective if we waited until he was 25.
I approached each man with an email and then followed-up with a phone call. Because my son is very interested in business, all the men I approached were business leaders. But they were also a diverse group from different industries, educational backgrounds, and ages. I wanted my son to hear from many different voices, believing that God would use them to enlarge his perspective and strengthen his faith.
After the first breakfast got scheduled, I didn't know what to expect. The man we were meeting was a dynamic young leader who serves Christ in a very active way. But what would my son think as he sat with his dad and listened to this man's story of life and faith?
All my prayers and hopes were answered in a way far beyond what I could have expected. As we left the breakfast that morning, my son was beaming from ear to ear talking about how incredible the time was. He couldn't wait for our next meeting, and before heading off to work, turned and said, "This is a great idea, and you're the best dad ever." I headed to my car, wiped the tears from my eyes, and thanked God for blessing us in such a wonderful way.
Over the summer we ended up having breakfast with eight different men. Each of them shared a different perspective and set of insights. And after each breakfast, my son seemed to be more enthusiastic about the idea, profusely thanking me for my efforts.
Here are some of the specific lessons we learned:
I was so grateful that these men would take the time to make an investment in my son. And I think most of them were grateful to have an opportunity to speak into a young man's life and share what they have learned.
Most of all I am grateful for how God used their words to make a difference in my son's life. They truly did "set him an example" and "show integrity, seriousness and soundness of speech that cannot be condemned." (Titus 2:7)
Many times after breakfast my son would call me on his way to work to talk about what was said. Several times over the months since the breakfasts he has reminded me of something that was shared by one of the men and then applied it to something he was going through.
Here's the really interesting part: I found myself doing the same thing. Each time we left the breakfast I was personally challenged and encouraged in very specific ways. Over the next days and weeks I found myself applying what I heard from these men to my own life. I originally scheduled the meetings for my son, and he was definitely blessed by them; but I came to realize that God had scheduled them for me as well.
How You Can Make This Happen
Here's a step by step plan for implementing this with your son, grandson, or a few young men in your community. (Based on my experience, I would limit it to at most three young men - that would be a breakfast of five people including you.)
There you have it. A practical and simple way to make a difference in the lives of younger men. Invest fifteen or twenty hours to significantly impact a young man, and God may just use it to change your life as well.
Yours for changed lives,