On October 15, 2011 I did possibly the manliest thing I have done in a very long time. Together with 7 other dads, and 14 total sons, I ascended Mount Scott inside the Wichita Mountain Wildlife Refuge near Lawton. Mount Scott is an interesting “hike.” Apart from the paved road that serpentines the park’s tallest peak, there is no set path up the mountain. Getting from the parking lot to the summit required our group to work together and plan well in order to make it to the top without serious injury.
To say that this hike was one of the manliest things I have done in a while is not an exaggeration. The hike was full of elements of pure manhood. If we had only killed our own lunch and cooked it over an open flame, the hike would have had everything. Even still, the hike had:
- Danger. Though we were not taking our life into our own hands, we all were taking our emergency room co-pays into consideration as we hiked the mountain. Hopping from boulder to boulder was fun, with an element of risk. We loved it.
- Someone who needed us. Nothing gets guys moving more than realizing that someone is depending on us. The 14 sets of little eyes (all under the age of 10) followed our direction and example as we pointed the way and pulled the little ones up the mountain side. It was awesome.
- Teamwork. I would have matched our 8 dad sherpa crew against the “We are Family” Pittsburgh Pirates of the 1970’s as a picture of partnership. No one on that mountain had one son . . . we all had 14.
- Fun. We laughed a lot, cheered alot, and cracked on each other all the way up the mountain. It was perfect.
In the end, we all made it up the mountain together. When we got back in the car and drove back to Norman, Josh actually cried for about 15 miles of turnpike time . . . he simply did not want the trip to be over. To be honest, I didn’t want it to be over either. The rush of climbing that mountain has not soon left me.
So, all of this has got me thinking about life and fatherhood. I want to issue a challenge to dads of sons everywhere. Dads, we should not simply wait for Mount Scott moments to join together. We need to be a band of brothers. We have way more important hills to climb than a pile of rocks in southwest Oklahoma. We need each other to help each other guide our sons to the top of the mountain of manhood. We need to have a year round adventure for our kids where we guide them through:
- Danger. The world today is a scary place. Satan is very creative in the way he attacks us . . . like a lion going after his prey. The risks for our lives and our boys lives are real: pornography, laziness, disrespect, materialism, lack of a fervency in following God. The danger is real . . . the spiritual lives of our sons are at stake. Instead of turtling up over this, let’s join together in facing this challenge with the enthusiasm we had on Mount Scott. Confronting this danger and surviving helps give us adventure every day with our sons!
- People who need us. Our sons need us. They need our guidance to navigate the ascension from boyhood to manhood. Their 14 sets of eyes are looking to us for an example of how to live and instruction on how to respond in a difficult world.
- Teamwork. We need each other. Being a dad is a difficult and important task, and effectively climbing this mountain with our sons is way easier with 8 of us than with one. Helping our sons get from here to there demands that we not have only our own children, we have “14.”
- Fun. We need to celebrate the victories, laugh at the mistakes, and enjoy the ride together.
I am writing this note as an open call to Dads everywhere to challenge us to step up our game in 2012. Let’s link arms and raise a generation of world changers for Jesus Christ. It is my hope that this post prompts groups of men to have a conversation over the next month where they talk about how to be more intentional in raising their sons to manhood. We need to do this, and we need each other to do this. There are no solo hikes up mount manhood.
The more I live, the more I am convinced that the world has far too many boys who shave (as Mark Driscoll calls them) and far too few real men. Dads, God can use us to change that reality. Let’s lean in together and see a new generation of men emerge. Discipleship starts in the home, and God wants to use us to make a difference in the lives who sleep under our roof. Let’s do that together. OK?