Its hard to not stop thinking about all the victims of the tragedy in CT. I have an almost 4 year old, and as a father it hits close to home thinking about my life without her. The joy and innocence she brings is absolutely priceless.
I also work full time with young men from the ages of 18-25. A good counselor friend of mine, Sam Jolman, and I had a quick conversation about the recent shootings and he brought up a book that was written in the 60’s about the stages of manhood and said that the stage of becoming a man between 18-25 was more like a midlife crisis. I agree, it was that way for me. Graduating college, figuring out an occupation, a town to live in, and a woman to marry. Those are pretty big questions to think about and figure out. They are even more difficult to figure out without the right people in your life to give you guidance.
I have seen over and over these questions freeze a young man in his tracks, filled with fear, afraid of making a mistake, disappointing others. It’s a lot of pressure to come through for a well-prepared young man. But, I am convinced that more and more young men are becoming more and more ill equipped for today’s challenges.
So my thoughts go to guiding and caring for young men, before it goes to gun control or the mental health community. It makes me want to spur other experienced men to take risks and engage and talk to the young men in your world, maybe at church, your work, our in your sphere of influence. Older men, don’t discount your potential influence in a young mans life. Heck guys like food, who turns down a free meal? Don’t over think it, just do it.
Some people call it a “ministry of presence”. Nothing complex, just time spent doing everyday activities. I also spent some time with a young man working at a church in Virginia. He was in my Young Life club 10 years ago. He now is spending time with young men and he said that one of the most impactful times he had going through high school was his time doing everyday tasks with me. In the ordinary something happens supernaturally. Something breaks relationally in a man’s heart. Most of the time we don’t gravitate towards sitting down and sharing our lives, but get guys to play basketball, video games, or watch football, some ice is broken. Something shifts.
Please spend time with the young men in your communities. Treat them like your sons or brothers.