Saturday, May 1, 2010

Shepherding Our Future Man Elijah

As we did with our "future woman" Hannah, Joanna and I discussed our vision and desires for our two "future men," Elijah and Sender.  In this post, I will summarize our thoughts for Elijah, and in a couple of weeks I'll discuss Sender.

We are trying to picture what Elijah will be like in the year 2020.  He will be 16 years old, so instead of being a skinny little boy (he's very cute, but don't call him that!), he could be a hairy, deep-voiced, driving teenager!  Of course, while we don't know what the next 10 years may hold, we do want to shepherd and train him according to how we believe God has gifted him (Proverbs 22:6).  As I did for Hannah, I will outline his gifts, God's call for him, and what applications we plan to implement over the next year.

Strengths and Gifting.  The name "Elijah" means Yahweh [the LORD] is my God.  It is a bold statement, especially in this post-modern culture, and since he was born, I prayed that he would always know and stand for the truth about  God.  He is a good, deep thinker and absorbs the nuggets of theology that he is taught.  He is great at math and loves science (maybe he'll be a chemist like his Daddy).  Being a middle child, he shows good flexibility in either playing with his older sister (they could play together all day and then want a "sleepover," where they'll talk for another hour or two), or playing with his younger brother (trains, puppet shows, or just plain wrestling).  Much like his dad, he struggles with feeling the need to be right and technical about everything; he and I both have that major pride issue.  As a typical middle child, he hates being overlooked and left out.  He is probably the most emotional person in our family (when he's not overly-serious), and sometimes has a hard time controlling his emotions when he gets hurt (physically or emotionally), but he has definitely grown in his self-control.

God's Call.  It's awesome to know that God created Elijah in His image.  As I've learned from Men's Roundtable and other teaching at Grace Church (sermons, Future Men, etc), biblical masculinity reflects God's nature.  We have a core definition of what biblical manhood is, and how we think it applies to Elijah.
  • Reject passivity.  Men, as a whole, tend towards passivity.  God created us to lead and to engage the world and people around us, but we tend to slide towards passivity.  Instead of avoiding responsibilities, we must run towards the battles in life (see I Samuel 17:48). 
  • Accept responsibility.  As a man, Elijah must learn to own burdens and responsibilities, to wear that "pack" so to speak.  He needs to be able to recognize what needs to be done, and then act on it (like seeing that the recycling needs to be taken out).  We must help him learn that he must respond when we or anyone speaks to him, and to have self-control before he acts (he is responsible to control his emotions and actions).  Hard work is a part of being a man.
  • Lead courageously.  In the concept of leading courageously, I like to imagine an army commander leading others in the field.  Leading may cause us to lose our life (at least metaphorically), and will at times cause us to fear, but we must move forward despite our emotions.  I want Elijah to know that his life is not at all about him, but all about serving God and loving others, no matter what the cost.
  • Expect God's reward.  Men who read these first three definitions (which overlap with each), may wonder if it's worth the cost.  I want Elijah to know that even if he pours his life out, even if he is abused and taken advantage up, even if he gives up all his desires, that the end reward is worth it.  God's eternal rewards far outweigh all of life's hardships (2 Corinthians 4:17).  Like the apostle Paul, I want him to be poured out, to keep the faith, and receive God's reward (2 Timothy 4:6-8).
Applications.  Here are some ways for Joanna and I to help Elijah become the man that we think God wants him to be:
  1. Explain and help him learn to apply the core definition of manhood.  Joanna has worked on some images to go along with the 4-part definition, and I plan to share those in the future.
  2. Help him learn to work more, like helping to make dinner, cleaning-up after dinner, being responsible for our recycling, etc.
  3. Help him learn and apply God's word.  I already have him drawing pictures in a "journal" about what he learns each week in his Preschool Small Group.  This summer, I want to help him start coming up with a specific application for each week as well.
  4. I have been pushing on him to be a model and a leader for Sender.  I call out a lot of his behavior based on how it affects Sender.  When we were potty-training Sender, I made it Elijah's responsibility to remind Sender to go to the bathroom when he woke up.  I want Elijah to feel a burden of responsibility for others, and this can start with his brother.
Thoughts or questions?

-- Joey Espinosa

1 comment:

  1. That's great, Joey. Thanks for letting us learn from you and Joanna. It will be interesting to see in what ways your vision/application for Sender is similar to this vision/application for Elijah, and in what ways it is different.