When does a boy become a man? Few questions are more important for fathers of sons to understand for two reasons. First, few questions are our sons internally asking more than this one. They want to be men and want to know when they've passed through that 'golden doorway' of manhood. The world has many answers, but its suggestions of physical and sexual prowess or the ability to legally drive a car or drink alcohol are no help to our sons. They're in need of better answers, and those answers need to come from us. Second, since we've been commissioned by God to train our sons to become men, we had better know what we're training them for. Without a clear goal of true manhood, our sons will default to the world's goals, and that would be tragic.
Al Mohler, president of Southern Seminary, comes to our rescue in his short booklet From Boy to Man: The Marks of Manhood. In it he lists thirteen elements which define true manhood:
1. Spiritual maturity sufficient to lead a wife and children.
2. Personal maturity sufficient to be a responsible husband and father.
3. Economic maturity sufficient to hold an adult job and handle money.
4. Physical maturity sufficient to work and protect a family.
5. Sexual maturity sufficient to marry and fulfill God's purposes.
6. Moral maturity sufficient to lead as an example of righteousness.
7. Ethical maturity sufficient to make responsible decisions.
8. Worldview maturity sufficient to understand what is really important.
9. Relational maturity sufficient to understand and respect others.
10. Social maturity sufficient to make a contribution to society.
11. Verbal maturity sufficient to communicate and articulate as a man.
12. Character maturity sufficient to demonstrate courage under fire.
13. Biblical maturity sufficient to lead at some level in the church.
Here are goals which truly define manhood, honor God and let our sons know they are no longer boys. My oldest son turns twelve in a few days. I know the gifts he would like to receive this year, but the best gift I can give him is intentional modeling and training in the areas listed above. If you have sons, that's what they need, too. To read Dr. Mohler's booklet in full, you may download it here.