7 Words I Want My Sons To Understand As They Become Men

7 Words I Want My Sons To Understand As They Become Men

 Boys becoming men. I’ve got two of them, and they are amazing!

My older son, Taylor, is coming back today from over 3 months in Africa. He turned 19 while he was there. And over the past couple of years, we’ve seen him grow from childhood to manhood.

My younger son, Garret, isn’t far behind. He’s 17 and had his world turned upside down this past year as we moved from San Diego (the only place he’s ever known) to Colorado Springs. Despite the obvious challenges, he’s done phenomenal with the changes. He’s becoming his own man and going through the same “childhood to manhood” process that Taylor has gone through.

As they’ve gone through this process, I’ve become more and more aware that they are not my little boys anymore. Meaning my time of day to day influence and control over their lives is quickly coming to an end. That, in turn, has made me think more and more about what is critically important for them to know as they launch in to their own lives. I narrowed my thoughts down to seven words (in no particular order)…

7 Words I Want My Sons To Understand As They Become Men


As I think of young men in the world today, it honestly can be discouraging. As I write this, hundreds of young men are destroying the city of Baltimore. I know of young men in their 20’s that are more interested in playing video games than doing anything meaningful. And nearly 20% of young men between ages 25 & 34 still live with their parents (of course, there are situations that warrant that, but not 1 in 5!).

Where is the responsibility?

Being responsible is being reliable, dependable…accountable. Accountable for every element of ones life. I want my sons to own every action they take, every thought they have, every word they speak. I want my sons to take responsibility for paying their bills, pursuing their dreams and polishing their talents.

I want “responsibility” to be a defining characteristic of my sons.


I’ve said for years, as a pastor, that “Ministry always happens best in the context of relationship.” But you know what I’ve learned? You can replace the word “ministry” with just about anything you do – business, studying, leadership, working, personal growth…you name it! – and it still applies.

Plain and simple, relationships matter in everything we do. 

And I wish I’d learned that earlier in life! I’m not very good at relationships sometimes. I’m an introvert and I don’t mind being alone. But I’ve learned that relationships matter. I need them as much as anyone. And being adept at developing real, authentic, and deep relationships is critical to our own well-being and to success in whatever field you choose to pursue.

[Tweet “Plain and simple, relationships matter in everything we do. “]


Or, in Christianese, “righteousness”. This simply means doing what’s right. Period. And this is determined by the increasingly unpopular guide called the Bible, God’s Word. Not by socially acceptable standards. Not by personal preferences. By God’s Word and the principles we learn from it.

That’s not always easy. It’s becoming increasingly difficult to live righteously. But in the end, I hope and pray that my boys choose to live this way, regardless of the cost.


I want my boys to dream, and dream big! Whether that means pursuing a life goal of achieving something, or a certain career, or believing that God can use them in unimaginable ways on the mission field.

But I want them to live in reality, also. What I have found is that when we don’t live in reality, it’s not only us, but others who pay a high cost.

So dream big, but don’t be naive. Stay positive but understand that life can be hard. Live in the moment but know that moments change.

Live in reality while pursuing your dreams.


More and more, we live in a world that isn’t real. The digital age has made it relatively easy to present ourselves as someone that we aren’t. Unfortunately, that can easily carry over to everyday life. So whether it’s putting up a facade to make people believe we’re someone we’re not, or hiding areas of our life from everyone that matters, don’t do it.

Be real. With yourself and with others.


My boys will make mistakes in life. Little ones. Big ones. Mistakes that seem devastating.

I’ve made them, and so have you.

Sometimes it feels like we messed up so badly that we can never recover. But what I’ve learned is that we can’t let mistakes define who we are or who we can become. Yes, there are consequences. And our mistakes may alter our direction and what our life looks like.

But redemption is available. Always. First and most importantly in our relationship with God (remember, our sins and mistakes are covered in His eyes!), and almost always through others, if we’re willing to admit are mistakes and seek forgiveness.


“Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you.” James 1:27

I like to think of religion as “doing” and faith as “being”. They go hand in hand, but religion (what we do) flows from our faith  (what we believe, or who we are…”being”). My hope and prayer is that my sons will grow in their faith and put it in to action by what they do, whether that’s serving in the local church or serving around the world.

I’m so proud to say that they already do this in so many ways, as they also demonstrate a good understanding of all of these important words and principles that will be so important in their lives.

7 important words that will define my sons’ transition to manhood. 

What would you add?

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2 Responses to 7 Words I Want My Sons To Understand As They Become Men

  1. Greg, I love these seven words and will be striving to pass them on to my three daughters as well! I especially like your inclusion of realness and redemption–two incredibly valuable qualities.

    My addition to the list would be radical-joy (Okay, so this doesn’t need to be hyphenated, but I’m trying not to break the pattern). I would love for my daughters to grow up to embody these qualities, while enjoying the ride 🙂

  2. Awesome Greg, your boys are blessed to have you as a Dad, I went through “Raising a Modern Day Knight”
    with my son, very similar to what you have said.

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