When you look in the mirror, who do you see? Do you like the man looking back at you? Do you like his attitude? Do you trust his judgment? Is he a good father and/or husband? Is he who you dreamed he’d be?
There are probably some things you like and other things you wish you could do away with. Whatever your thoughts on the man you see, there have been many things through the years to help form the package you are – many of them were even out of your control. For now we’ll refer to these experiences as the environment we grew up in. To help explain how our environment plays such an important role in our life and in the lives of children, let me share the following:
“There is a story told of a farmer who took a small pumpkin and placed it inside a glass jug. The pumpkin grew. When the farmer broke the jug, he found that the pumpkin had become the exact size and shape of the jug. The pumpkin had been molded by the jug! What has molded you into what you have become? The far more important question, however, is, what is now molding you into what you will become?”
This is an excerpt from the book “How to Become a Great Man of God” by James Stone and it’s an excellent illustration of how our environment shapes us as children and continues to shape us in our adult years. What are some of the things that helped shape you into the man you are today?
- Your parents and/or others who raised you.
- Your childhood friends.
- The community you grew up in.
- The church you attended (or did not attend).
- The circumstances and experiences you were subjected to as a child and into your teen years.
These things and more make up the “jar” you grew up in and shaped you into the man you are mentally, spiritually, relationally, and even physically in some cases. Can you see why it’s so important for us men to create positive environments for our children and other children around us? We can’t always control the neighborhood we live in or the school our child attends but we can control the environment of our home. Is it positive? Encouraging? Loving? Fun? Are there clear rules for behavior and interaction? Do you share God’s word with your kids through family devotions and prayer? Being intentional with our family and the atmosphere of our home will allow us to positively impact our kids – not just for the day, but for life. For LIFE. Take a minute to think about that. What we do today affects who the men and women our sons and daughters will grow to be and how they will perceive the world around them.
We have a big job, guys! That’s why it’s so important for us men to surround ourselves with positive, godly friends and mentors. The environment we surround ourselves with significantly impacts our view of the world as men – just as our home environment does for our children. Who we take advice from, what we watch on television and internet, what music we listen to, and what thoughts we dwell on all create the frame through which we view the world. And the way we see the world, the advice we take from others, and the quality of our relationship with God all affect our family. You can hopefully see the importance of being intentional with our own environment as much as that of our kids!
Neither being a godly man nor providing a positive, encouraging environment in your home will come by accident. It comes only by decision – intentional manhood – and that comes only through the wisdom and guidance of the Holy Spirit each day in our lives. We will still fail at times. We’ll still have some regrets. But the successes will far outweigh the failures and in future years our children will look back and appreciate the man of God they call Daddy.