*This is the third installment in the What They Should Know series. Click here to read the final installment, On What They Should Know: A Message to Young Boys. Click here to read the second installment.*
I know there are challenges to being a young man. You get contradictory messages that encourage you to be one way and then punish you for following instructions. You’re told, on one hand, “Hey, you’re young and you’re a guy. You’re SUPPOSED to be immature, irresponsible and oversexed. Anything less would be uncivilized.” On the other hand, you’re called a deadbeat and a loser when you walk in the shoes that have been laid out for you. It’s no secret; you’ve been set up to fail.
That’s why you’ve got to think for yourself and be the amazing man God made you to be, not the distraction you can so easily become. You see, when a man isn’t good to himself, he is distracted from developing his mind, his talents and abilities. When he isn’t good to his wife, he distracts her from carrying happiness in her heart and sharing that happiness with others. When he isn’t good to his children, he distracts them from being confident and aware of the potential they possess. I’ll admit, there is a lot of responsibility laid on your back, but that’s what you’ve got those big, broad shoulders for.
I hate (and I mean truly hate) to see young men wasting their lives on partying and girl chasing. When I see it, it bothers me–to the point where I want to shake you! Not a cute, loving little shake, but the strongest, head-bobbling shake my weak little arms can muster. And while I’m shaking, I want to yell, “Do you know what you’re capable of? Don’t you know you could be an attentive husband, an involved father, a generous boss or a promising employee? Don’t you know you’re so much better than this?” Obviously, women aren’t the only ones who can waste their treasures.
People seem to have such high expectations for women, but men are allowed to do and be whatever. Sorry, buddy, but I can’t accept that, especially now that I have a son. I’ll hold him to the same high standard I hold you to, and I’ll remind him of the strength that he possesses. Not the physical strength (though there is importance there too) but the mental and spiritual strength that allows you all to be natural leaders. But really, my standards don’t matter much. It’s your own that make all the difference.
My father set the bar high, so I never fell for that “men ain’t sh_t” mess. It just doesn’t fit in my world. I pray it doesn’t fit in yours either. I pray you don’t drink the “men are supposed to be immature and selfish” Kool-Aid. That stuff is no good. Causes cavities, and a distorted image of self. Hopefully you have a father guiding you in the right direction, but if you don’t, you are still capable. Locked within you, perhaps beneath some anger and sadness, is a light that shines brighter than you could ever imagine. It is more than strong enough to warm your heart and your hands, so never think you are left out in the cold. It is magical and ordinary, resilient and fragile.
I beg of you, young man, please let it shine.