Tuesday, May 13, 2014

But How?

Much has been said and written about the influence a man has on the life of a boy. As guys we know the influence men have had in our growing-up years, especially our father and for a fortunate few, granddads. However, some of us grew up without a dad and had other male mentors shape our lives. For some it might have been an uncle, while others might have had a coach or a neighbor fill that role. No matter who he was that person was instrumental in shaping our perspective about what it meant to be a man living out all his roles: employee, friend, son, husband, father, etc.

So we know the importance of boys having male role models, but how can we be that person in the life of a young man without a male in his life?

As was recently pointed out to me, if you spend too much time with boys you may be looked at with some misgiving. And if you go up to children you're not related to or familiar with -- and sometimes even if you are -- you can appear to those who don't know you or the situation, with even sharper suspicion. So how can we effectively be the mentor our young men need, especially if there is no male in their life?

The answer is that I really don't have an answer. Every situation is different. However, there are some tried-and-true ways to be an influence in the life of a young man that should not cause undue reservation. (This applies based on the assumption you are above reproach, honest, and know how to set boundaries.)

One way is to be involved in structured, recognizable youth organizations like the Boy Scouts, Big Brother, and the like. These groups always need reliable men of good character to volunteer to be involved in the life of young men. As a scout leader or big brother you have the opportunity to share your knowledge. Your life, words and actions will also give the boys a glimpse into what it is to be a masculine leader in today's society.

Many schools today would welcome a male to volunteer in the lives of its students. A visit to the principal's office will give you an idea of how and where you can get involved. For those active in a church, offering to teach at vacation Bible school or Sunday school are two ways you can impart your wisdom to students and enhance their lives.

There are many ways to be involved in the lives of young men around us, the real trick is to find what works for you and pursue it. What are your aptitudes and interests? What skills or knowledge do you have that would benefit the lives of young men growing up? How can you make a difference in the situation and circumstances of young men who could learn a lot from you?

As for me, I enjoyed my stint as a scout leader. If you're stuck on how to get involved, this might be a good place to begin. If this doesn't fit your style, go online and plug some keywords into your web browser, and see what ideas you come up with.

You may find your talents, skills and experience are a good match for helping others navigate their way through the oft-times perilous waters of becoming a man.

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