"Likewise, exhort the young men to be sober-minded."
There are certain books that Craig and I like to buy in bulk and keep on-hand to share with others -- particularly younger couples/parents. When we were first married, we were absolutely clueless; but the Lord was gracious to surround us with those who have "gone before". We've had the blessing of a handful of faithful mentors who weren't afraid to tell us what we needed to hear, rather than what we may have wanted to hear. With the current dearth of mentor-types among believers in Christ, we've realized that we are now entering that season of life in which we are called to follow the Titus 2 model of paying forward what was offered to us in our youth.
As I was going through our summer books a moment ago, I picked up Thoughts For Young Men, by J.C. Ryle. This is one of those little nuggets of wisdom that we like to share with the young men that have spent time in our living room and around our table, sharing meals with our family and learning from Craig. These are young men who are steadfast in following the Lord and seeking to do His will, in preparation for being future leaders -- and some of whom have already begun families of their own.
Our boys were rather small when we first read this book, so it is a welcome treasure to see them now taking to heart what was written so long ago by that great pillar of the faith. I began thumbing through the pages this evening, refreshing my memory, and noticed a few dog-eared pages. I was impressed by a some bits that Craig Grayson had underlined:
"Determine as long as you live to make the Bible your guide and adviser."
"Never be satisfied with the friendship of any one who will not be useful to your soul."
"Clothes and company tell true tales about character."
"'He who walks with the wise grows wise, but a companion of fools suffers harm.' (Proverbs 13:20)"
I noticed, too, a couple of passages that Craig underlined or otherwise noted: (For clarification, in case any reader may be unfamiliar with our family, Craig is my husband, and Craig Grayson is one of our sons.)
"What young men will be in all probability depends on what they are now, and they seem to forget this."
"'Experience', says the proverb, 'is a hard school to attend, but fools will learn in no other.'"
We are realizing more each day how precious and fleeting is the time that we have to disciple our children and be God's stewards for preparing them for the plans He has for them. Our sons will, Lord willing, one day lead their own households and bring up the next generation in the "training and instruction of the Lord" (Ephesians 6:4). The things we allow them to practice now will naturally carry into their future lives, making it imperative that we teach them now to guard their hearts and redeem the time. This is something that must begin with the most basic teaching in earliest childhood, just as a crop is tended from seed to mature plant before becoming fit for the table.
While the Word of God is the principal source of instruction for families, I am grateful for other "mentors in print" who are those wise ones with whom we may walk in our pursuit of wisdom. J.C. Ryle is certainly one of these. I look forward to going through this book again, along with Craig Grayson and Graham, and hearing what insights the Lord places on their hearts concerning the application of biblical principles and how they may begin now to prepare for the future.
*Above is a photo of our boy getting his hands dirty doing "man-work" recently when our van was stuck in the mud on a trip to Inhambane, Moçambique.