Bob Helvey, one of my colleagues here at FamilyLife, tells a great story about another father who stepped up and was intentional in training his son.
When Bob was 10, he was a paperboy, and on one cold Virginia night, a gust of wind knocked him off his bike. Then he watched in shock as his bundle of newspapers came apart and blew away. At that point, this boy had a choice: He could step up, be responsible, and retrieve all the papers, or he could give up and go home. Bob did what boys do—he pedaled home.
When he arrived, his father said, “You sure finished your paper route early.” Bob explained what had happened, and then his father said, “Get your coat, Son, and meet me in the car.”
They drove to the scene of the crime, and Bob felt some satisfaction when he didn’t see any newspaper pages on the ground. But his dad parked and told Bob to follow him. They walked to a nearby house, where they were greeted by a man who invited them inside. There Bob was confronted with an amazing sight—an entire room full of newspaper pages! With hardly a word, the two men helped the young boy piece every newspaper back together. Then Bob proceeded to complete his paper route with his father as chauffeur.
That character lesson was so powerful that Bob wrote about it 40 years later in a tribute to his father. “It was a little annoying that Dad didn’t give me a lecture,” Bob wrote. “He knew he didn’t have to. The everlasting warmth I felt of a difficult task completed, a duty fulfilled, was its own mentor.” Bob wondered how his dad had known just where to go that day. Years later he learned that, after the accident, the neighbor had called his father to complain about his “good for nothing” son. “Together they conspired to teach a young boy a lifelong lesson,” Bob wrote. “It worked. The neighbor must have been a father too.”
God gives us a unique opportunity as fathers to join Him in what has to be one of the most noble, transcendent assignments we’ll ever have as men: He gives us the privilege of joining with Him in shaping the next generation of men. But we won’t fulfill those responsibilities unless we’re willing to step up and be intentional in how we raise our sons.