rite of passage :: what makes a man

July 22, 2009


Alex is 14.  Last night was a tribal, spiritual, testosterone and Spirit fueled ritual welcoming him into the brotherhood.

Fifteen men met secretly at a cabin in Lake Maria State Park near Monticello, MN.  John Eldredge would be proud.  Alex’s dad, Nathan, had sent us all our marching orders via email.  Covert Ops.  All Alex knew was that he and his dad were spending the night on a camp-out.

As Alex and Nate arrived at the entrance to the long trail leading through the woods to the cabin, Nate sent his son on alone.  What a metaphor.  Spaced evenly on the trail were role models and mentors, and spiritual leaders for Alex.  Each would walk with him for a few minutes, sharing scripture and thoughts on what it means to be a man of God.  Both his Grandpas were there.  Six Uncles.  Alex’s Pastor.  Junior and Senior High Youth Ministry leaders from Living Hope Church.  Men of faith Alex could look up to.

As Alex entered the ring of light cast by our campfire and the torches blazing around us, Nate met him again with a blessing and an embrace, and we shouted our praise to God.  Then worship.  Guitar and Djembe.  Men singing from their guts.  Nate shared his thoughts and scripture about what it means to be a man of faith.  Ceremony.  Depth.  And then came the back slapping, manly roasted snacks, and Live Wire Mt. Dew.

I can’t give away (or capture) all of the metaphor, ceremony, or sacredness of this… my first Lutheran Bar Mitzva.  But it was such an honor to witness.  I’m so proud of Alex.  He’s going to continue to grow as a humble, solid, Jesus-loving young man. 

But my hero is Alex’s dad.

Nathan lives intentionally.  He believes that spiritual leadership needs to come from the home – not a Youth Group or Children’s Ministry leader.  His blazing passion is helping families realize that a child’s spiritual development rests in large measure on the shoulders of Mom and Dad.  That’s why I’m SO GLAD he is our Children’s Ministry Director at Living Hope.  He lives what he says.

And that’s why when our last child was born, we named him after his God-father: “Ezra NATHAN Skogerboe.” 

As we heard last night, I pray that my boys will grow up to be God-honoring worshippers who reject passivity, accept responsibility, lead courageously, and expect the greater reward!

And a FINAL NOTE to fathers of BOYS (of which Nathan and I each have five):  Your sons care deeply about what matters most to you.  Whether they show it or not.  It’s true.  They will become you.  Make your love for your God, your wife, and your kids INTENTIONALLY VISIBLE.  If you’re looking for a little help along the way, check out Robert Lewis  >> Raising a Modern-Day Knight: A Father’s Role in Guiding His Son to Authentic Manhood (Colorado Springs, CO: Focus on the Family, 1997).

Thanks, Nathan, for reminding me what courage, leadership, and Godly fatherhood looks like.  You’ll enjoy the greater reward.

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“rite of passage :: what makes a man” by Joshua Skogerboe is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.


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Psalm 24:7 & Luke 10:42 >> Like David, and Mary, I'm in pursuit of my one thing. I'm the Pastor at St. Olaf Lutheran Church in Montgomery, IL. Pastor, teacher, writer, communicator, designer, and drummer. I definitely got the better deal in my marriage to Amy. And I couldn't be any more proud of my five amazing boys. Deeply grateful.