Raising Strong Men Doesn't Happen by Accident

We've all heard it said that if you love your job, you'll never work a day in your life.   Twelve years ago when I began coaching football and working with young men, I realized the truth of that saying.  I do a lot of thinking about the challenges that face our young men today.  Before I get any deeper, allow me to apologize for the fact that this blog is written primarily to young men and their parent(s).  However, if you're like me and only have girls, feel free to keep reading and I hope you enjoy. 

I feel very strongly that God's Word teaches, supports, and celebrates the traditional roles of men and women.  That very statement is extremely controversial in our culture, and it may have raised a red flag or two in your mind.  These red flags demonstrate how poisoned our politically correct culture is and how the culture is attacking masculinity and attempting to blend the sexes.  This "blending" or "blurring" of genders is having disastrous effects upon our society.  Many of our young men are being raised with no real sense of what it means to be a man.  In fact, manhood has all but been reduced to an age -- 18.  I realize that this topic is very broad, and I could write pages on what I believe true manhood really is.  However, for the sake of my time and yours, I'm going to narrow it down an idea or two. 

All of us, myself included, are soft.  North American middle class culture is soft, and getting softer.  We strive to give our kids things to make them comfortable.  We spoil them, we coddle them, and we remove them from uncomfortable situations.  We rush to rescue them from the big bad coach or teacher.  And when all is said and done, we have crippled them.  I had an easy life by American standards.  And yet, I grew up in the projects until age 10.  My mom had me when she was 15 years old.  Many nights she and I split a can of soup and a sandwich for supper.  My father was never in the picture, and my step-father was very abusive.  Of course, all of those things God has used to shape me and prepare me for leadership.  In other words, I AM THANKFUL FOR THOSE HARDSHIPS. 

I tell our boys all the time that those of you who are suffering are the lucky ones.  The ones that have everything handed to them (while it may seem they have it made now) are being crippled and will not know how to handle this world.  Have you ever wondered why the greatest generation was the greatest?  One word -- adversity.  It's easy to see the problem.  Soft culture, soft raising will give you a soft man.  I heard Bob Tebow (Tim Tebow's father) say, "You don’t accidentally raise strong men."  All of us parents want the finished product, but at times we do not want the process that must accompany it. 

I use football as a vehicle.  We get out and intentionally create stress, pressure, and anxiety at our practices.  We want our boys to get uncomfortable.  We want them to not only endure hardship but embrace it and understand that it's the only way to succeed.  I have added this quote by President Roosevelt, perhaps my favorite president.  He, by the way, played football and looked to recruit high school football players when assembling the Rough Riders. 


"It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself for a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat."  --Teddy Roosevelt