How To Make A Man Out Of A Boy
by Pastor Jack Hyles
(Chapter 03 from Dr. Hyle's excellent book, Strength And Beauty)
My only son, David, is sixteen. God has called him to be a preacher, and he is already preparing for the ministry. A couple of summers ago while David was working as a cowboy at the Bill Rice Ranch, he was asked by Dr. Bill Rice to preach on his local radio broadcast. Several people came to me telling of the blessings they received because of David's sermon; one person especially spoke highly of his radio message and asked me if I would be using David to preach at the First Baptist Church in Hammond. I replied in the negative! He was shocked and asked, "How do you expect to make a preacher out of David if you never let him preach!" My answer was, "I am not trying to make a preacher out of David; I am trying to make a man out of him, for if I can make a man out of him, God can make him a preacher!" We have too many preachers now who are not men. I have spent thousands of hours trying to make a man out of my son. The words that follow will explain how I have tried and the methods I have used.
There is a great need for men of leadership and men of decision in every phase of our American life. The Kinsey report revealed that four per cent of our males over 16 years of age are homosexuals. In California, a sadly misguided preacher found to be a homosexual has founded a church for homosexuals. In the larger cities, clubs for homosexuals have been organized so they can meet regularly together. In our big cities there are homosexual men who live with other men and in a large city recently there was a wedding ceremony which united two men in matrimony. The "Gay" or homosexual community has its own beaches, restaurants, bars, and barber shops; its own tailors, gymnasiums, and apartment houses; its own books, magazines, and periodicals; its own male prostitutes and conventions.
The Wolfinder report says, "Homosexuality between adults in private could no longer be a criminal offense. It is not the law's business."
A leading official of the United Church of Canada said, "The church should solemnize marriages between men."
In New York City the Homosexuality League polled 400 homosexuals and asked them, "If you could be cured, would you want to be cured?"
"No," was the answer given by 96% of the homosexuals polled.
Apart from the homosexual problem there is yet a great void in American life. We need men of conviction, discipline, integrity, decision, character, and leadership. Since nothing happens accidentally, if we rear a generation of such men, it must be done in the homes, in the churches, and in the schools, by the parents, pastors, and teachers.
Let us answer the question, "How can I make a man of my boy?"
1. Dress him like a man. As soon as his hair gets a bit shaggy, have it cut! It is better that little Johnny start life being masculine than to retain those beautiful ringlets at the age of two. Cut off those ringlets and make him look like a man. From the very first time that he is old enough to wear clothes, dress him like a boy, cut his hair like a boy, and make sure he always looks like a man. Teach him to be around boys that dress like boys. Teach him it is not Scriptural for a boy or man to have long hair or effeminate tastes in clothing. Read I Corinthians 11:14.
2. Teach him strict obedience. He will never be a good leader until he has learned to be an obedient follower, for, to be a leader, one must know the heartbeat of the follower so he will know how to handle followers. Let him know the rules; state them plainly so he knows what they are. Tell him exactly what the penalty will be if he breaks a rule. Define the crime and the punishment so he knows before he commits it whether it will be worth it or not. Always make the punishment so great that the committing of the crime will not be worth it. If I were a boy eighteen years of age and my dad said to me, "You get home by 11:00 o'clock tonight; I'm going to fuss at you if you don't!" I might be tempted to spend an extra half hour with my girlfriend and take Dad's scolding. However, if my dad were to take the car away from me for a month if I were late returning home, I would stop to realize that any time I was late I would be trading a few minutes with my girlfriend for a whole month of dates and that is not a good bargain! Make the punishment so uncomfortable that it will not be worth it to break the rules. Make your son live by strict discipline and obedience. Teach him to say "Yes, sir" and "Yes, ma'am" and "No, sir" and "No, ma'am."
3. Punish him immediately and properly. Do not jerk him up and call him a little brat. Take him to his room, make him sit down, tell him what he did wrong, tell him what you are going to do, then do it and tell him why you did it. Make a big ordeal out of it. Make the punishment private, but make it immediate, proper, and plain.
4. Make him fulfill all obligations. When my boy was three and four years of age I started teaching him to pay his bills promptly and to fulfill his obligations completely. I would ask him, "Son, if a debt is due on the first of the month, when are you going to pay it?" He would say, "On the first of the month."
Then I would ask, "Son, if an emergency arises and you cannot meet your obligation, what are you supposed to do?"
He would then reply, "I am supposed to go to the person I owe, shake his hand, look him in the eye, and have an understanding as to what can be done."
What the American male needs is honor, just plain, old, downright honor. We need men of the old school who sat straight in their chairs and led with firmness and love. When the kids walked in they felt like they were before a Supreme Court justice. Maybe they didn't like him then or understand him, but later they rose up and called him, "blessed." He was of the old school-a man who was very careful about going in debt, a man whose word was as good as his signature, a man who was up-right, honest, aboveboard and who helped his neighbor when he was in trouble. Teach your boy that promptness is a part of character. Teach him to take care of his obligations properly.
This is one of the things that is killing fundamentalism today. We have some shiftless, dirty, irresponsible, lackadaisical, sluggards who are fundamentalists that refuse to pay their debts, take care of their property, keep their word, press their pants, and shine their shoes. They know nothing of courtesy, etiquette, ethics and are bereft of integrity, honesty, decency, and honor. Let this not be true in the life of your son.
5. Teach him physical coordination. I do not mean that he has to be a great athlete, but his body should be coordinated. Insist that he participate in athletics. It is a grave danger for a boy to be indoors too much and grow up not knowing how to coordinate his body properly.
6. Teach him to want to win. We have stressed to our children, "Be a good loser, be a good loser, be a good loser," until we have rubbed this good loser bit in the ground! I taught my boy to play to win. We have bragged on good losers until our boys have received more rewards for losing gracefully than winning properly. The result has been that we now have a nation of young people who do not want to fight for their country and who are willing to let the strongest nation on earth bow down in shame before a little nation like North Vietnam. It is tragic, but true, that I know hundreds of men who couldn't beat their wives at Chinese checkers. Junior has been taught to be a good loser; he has been rewarded for being a good loser, so winning becomes less and less important.
I was approached by a pastor in Rockford, Illinois. He was somewhat effeminate and less than a man. He came to me and with his dainty voice he said, "Dr. Hyles, can I ask you a question? You strike me as being a very poor loser. Is that true?"
I looked at him, paused a moment, and answered, "I don't know...l ain't never lost!"
If you are going to make a man of your boy, teach him to be a winner. Yes, he must accept loss gracefully, but he should never enjoy losing. This is where we get our General MacArthurs. This is how Billy Sundays are made. Teach your boy to want to win.
7. Make him play with boys and with boys' toys and games. Let him play with guns, cars, baseballs, basketballs, and footballs. As soon as I could I taught my boy to play baseball and football. When he was about thirteen I bought him an air rifle. When he was fifteen I bought him a .22 rifle. Invariably, when someone admits to me he is a homosexual he relates that he played a lot with girls and participated in feminine activities.
8. Compliment character, not talent. Never has David stood up on the hearth at home to sing a song for applause. I have never applauded him for his talent, but many times I have applauded him because he obeyed. Compliment his character, not his talent. It will make a better man of him
9. Do not keep him "under your thumb." Let him spend the night with other boys (good Christian boys). Send him off to camp in the summertime; even when he is seven or eight years of age. Let him learn how to kill a snake, put frogs in his pocket, tie a knot, build a fire. Let him get blisters on his feet and at an early age let him start doing what men ought to do.
If the music director doesn't choose him for a singing group, don't be the kind of parent that complains in defense of the boy's talent. If care is not taken, you will rear a boy that expects you to come to his rescue and bail him out every time he is in trouble. If he is going to be a man someday, he must start in childhood having some responsibilities, some discomforts, and some manly obligations. He will not jump from being a little boy into being a man; it is a gradual process. Be sure this natural process is allowed to develop.
10. Always stand for proper authority. Not long ago one of my staff members came to me complaining that his boy was disciplined too heavily by his church choir director. I lovingly warned my staff member that he should thank God that his boy was being disciplined. If the punishment is too severe, it will still be a lot better for him than the boy learning that his dad will take his side over proper authority.
One of our finest boys who is going to be a preacher came to my office the other night and said, "Brother Hyles, my teacher is persecuting me."
"Why?" I asked.
He said, "I come to church on Wednesday nights and am so busy in activities that I don't get all my homework done and my school teacher is going to give me a bad grade for that."
"She ought to," I said.
"Well," he said, "I have been coming to church faithfully."
I said, "Okay, then, study when you are at home, but don't come to me because your grade is bad when you don't do your work." The boy who is going to become a real man must learn to respect authority.
11. Teach him to defend himself. Yes, you read it right. Teach him self-defense. Yes, you still read it right. Teach him how to fight. Teach him to be rugged enough to defend his own, his home, his loved ones, and his friends.
When David was just five years of age, I bought him a pair of boxing gloves. In fact, I bought one pair for David and one pair for the big boy across the street. I got them together and let them box. The boy punched David in the nose; David wanted to quit, but I wouldn't let him. I was going to teach him how to defend himself, how to be a man-physically a man, emotionally a man, mentally a man, and spiritually a man. He learned to fight until now he can protect his sisters.
One day when David was about nine I looked out through the upstairs window and saw him across the street straddling a little fellow and beating him up. He was hitting him right in the face until blood was coming. I ran down the stairs, out the door, across the street and pulled him off. "Son, what in the world are you doing?" I said.
He looked up with quivering lips and with anger in his eyes and said, "Dad, he was calling my sister (Linda) a dirty name."
I said, "Then get back on him and let him have it!" When I walked away he was back on him again beating him up. God pity this weak-kneed generation which stands for nothing, fights for nothing, and dies for nothing.
12. Teach him to shop alone. By the time he is around ten or eleven years of age, let him shop by himself for a few things. There is nothing any more disgusting than to see a big eighteen-year-old boy trying on pants at men's shop with his little mother breathing down his neck. Maybe he won't match his socks exactly with his tie, but I would rather he be a man than to have matching tie and socks. Now, to be sure, my preference is that he be both proper and a man.
The other day I saw a big six-foot, two-inch eighteen-year-old boy walking in a store beside his five-foot, four-inch mother. The salesman asked, "What size do you wear, son?"
The mother said, "He wears size 42."
The salesman asked, "Son, do you want something single-breasted or double-breasted?"
The mother replied, "He wants single-breasted."
There were two words I would like to have used to that lady. The first one was "shut" and the second was "up." Mothers, let your boys become men. One of these days he will grow up and have to marry a mother instead of a wife. His wife will have to pick out every tie he wears, lay it on the bed every morning, and burp him before he goes to bed at night. What you will have is a grown son who will have to marry a mother or he won't be happy. You are robbing some lady of having a man for a husband and you are robbing your boy of ever having a chance to be a man. If he is going to be a man of decision someday, let him make some decisions now. He is not going to lead a big corporation if he cannot buy his own tie by the time he is old enough to make the football team.
At a very early age a boy should start making his own decisions. Now, to be sure, there should be governing and over-seeing, and there should be limits, but if he is someday going to make decisions that are going to affect a great church, city, nation, or a great corporation, he must be taught while a little child to make the decision about what socks he is going to wear.
13. Talk to him like a man. Some mothers say to their sixteen-year-old boy, "Take the garbage out, baby," "Bye-bye, sweetheart," "Good morning, precious," "Be sure you are back on time, sugar baby," or "Be careful, honey doll." Talk to him like a man. When he becomes a teenager, don't kiss him in public unless he initiates it.
No teenage boy ever comes into my office and is treated anything less than man to man. They walk in my office like men, they dress like men, they shake my hand like men, they look me in the eye and talk to me like men, and they say, "Yes, sir" and "No, sir," like gentlemen. Don't treat the boy like a baby if you want him someday to be a man.
14. Give him work, authority, and responsibility. Be sure he knows how to work (for that matter I think a boy should know how to take suffering, pain and punishment). That is one reason I like sports. When David was just five years old I got a baseball, went out in the yard, knocked him grounders, and gave him a quarter for every one he could catch. He didn't make a single quarter. I hit them too hard. They bounced up and hit him in the chest, in the nose, in the head, and in the shoulder. He came in bruised and broken, but more a man.
Give your boy responsibility. Give him something to do as regular work and make him responsible for it. Don't breathe down his neck. Teach him to have initiative.
One of the reasons ladies ofttimes turn out to be better leaders than men is that city life is conducive to this. There are not many chores for boys to do like milking the cow, chopping the wood, etc. There are chores for the girls. What happens? Boys grow up without any chores, no milking cows, no feeding pigs, no gathering eggs, no chores like we had on the farm or at the edge of town. Girls, however, can iron, keep house, cook, wash and dry the dishes. Hence, they are taught initiative whereas the boys find few masculine duties to perform. Hence, the parent must work hard to find masculine-type duties.
I never let my boy do feminine chores. The dish washing has been done by the girls. He does no ironing, etc. He must keep his room clean and tidy, but his chores have been masculine chores such as cleaning the basement, taking out the garbage, having an afternoon job, mowing the yard, etc.
A few years ago Dr. Bill Rice wrote me and said, "Dr. Hyles, would David like to have a pony?" I thought, "Where in the world are we going to keep a pony?" Well, I said we would find some place. We went to a neighbor who has a big back yard and a little shed. We borrowed his shed. Yes, right in the city we had a pony. At night the phone would ring and it would be the police department calling, "Do you have a horse? It is running down Schreiber Street." After a while every time the phone would ring at night I would pick it up and say, "Where is the horse now?"
I told David, "Son, you wanted the horse, you have to feed him." David would get up in the morning, trudge through the snow in sub-zero weather, carry a water bucket in one hand and a bag of feed in the other, and go feed the horse. He learned to ride the horse even though the horse spent more time at the police station than he did in the shed. David owned one of the few ponies in America who had a police record.
A boy needs responsibility; he also needs to assume authority. Give him that responsibility and authority and teach him to work.
15. Do not make a mold for your boy. If you are a lawyer, don't decide before he is born that he is going to be a lawyer. If you are a preacher, let your son decide what God wants him to do. Don't let him think you will be disappointed if he is not what he thinks you want him to be. Now everyone knows that I would like for David to be a preacher, but I will let God decide that. If David becomes an honest man of character and becomes the best garbage collector in Hammond, his dad will be proud of him It would be wrong for me to make a mold for him.
16. Give him opportunities to lead. Though David is younger than my oldest daughter I have always preferred to leave him in charge of the family. When I am away on a trip, it is understood that David does the manly chores. He has learned to be protective of his sisters and the house. The family feels as safe when he is there as when I am there. He has been taught and trained to be physically capable as well as emotionally capable.
17. Teach him to have proper heroes. This is one of the greatest things my mother ever did for me. She pointed to men whom I could emulate and who could be my heroes. I tried to become like those men. I will be eternally grateful for the fact that my mother gave me heroes. This is one reason why parents should choose a church which has a masculine pastor. Mothers and dads should be able to say to their sons, "Grow up and be like your pastor," without having to fear that he will be effeminate. It is wise for the parents to choose older boys who are gentlemen and yet real men and set them as examples for boys. Proper athletic heroes, Sunday school teachers, manly pastors, and older boys could be chosen.
David and I have been buddies from his infancy. He always waits for me after church and rides home with me. Since I have duties to perform I always come home later than the rest of the family, but David has always waited for me. As a little boy four or five, he wanted to wait for Daddy. Now as a teenage boy on the basketball team, he still wants to wait for Dad. For years I drove him home and now he drives me home.
Recently David had to wait two and a half hours on Sunday evening for his dad. When we got home someone asked him why he didn't come home earlier with the rest of the family. He replied that he wanted to wait for his dad. Then they asked him, "What did you do for two and a half hours alone out in the hall?"
David stood up and with masculine physique and presentation he said, "I will tell you what I did for that two and a half hours alone in the hall: I walked up and down the hallway realizing how many people would love to wait two and a half hours to get to ride home with Dr. Jack Hyles, and I thanked God that I have the privilege."
Nearly seventeen years ago I got on my knees over the body of my only son and prayed for God to make him a man. I never prayed that he would be a preacher; I prayed he would be a man, a Christian man with integrity, discipline, leadership, ability, courtesy, gentleness, strength and honor; yes, in every way, a real man. I have tried now for almost seventeen years to help him become a man. I think he will. I believe I am now ending the work that I set out to do that day. I think I have about made, with God's help, a man out of a boy.
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