Was there a time when you had that same life experience? Tell us about it. We need to hear, “God is faithful in that situation, because I’ve seen it—I have felt it. I don’t know what it will look like for you, but he is with you, and he is faithful. And so am I.” Tell relevant, helpful stories. You can’t see the end of any young man’s story. But you can be a historical anchor for the hope that God is actually involved in this tragic world—in a young man’s tragic life—because sometimes we’re not so sure.
It’s hard for most Christians to spend time alone with God. For you to take time with the Father—with your Father—to intercede for us, to pray for our good and to ask for wisdom for us means more than you know. With all the brokenness between generations today, it would be an unusual and undeserved blessing to take your prayers for granted.
Paul feared the Ephesians would “lose heart,” so he prayed that God would “grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit” (Ephesians 3:13, Ephesians 3.16″ data-version=”esv” data-purpose=”bible-reference”>16). We often lose heart while we make our own way. We need strength. We’re praying our immature hearts out. Take those 10 or 15 years you have on us and do with them in prayer what we haven’t learned to do yet as unskilled, inexperienced and scared younger men.
Don’t feel the need to compete with us. We’re not your peers, so don’t measure yourself against us. If we need your more mature, fatherly help, chances are we’re not getting it from our dads. Most guys who have distant or absent fathers feel like they have been competing with other men their whole life—for stats, for affection, approval and acceptance.
Be a friend in the war of life—a fellow soldier. We need support, friendship and non-competitive comaraderie like that—we need a person to manifest to us, face to face, God’s disinterest in comparative performance. It’s really hard to “do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves” (Philippians 2:3). But we might just learn how to do it for others through your example.
One of the most practical shapes this takes is in the form of good listening. In listening to a young man talk about himself, you will hear embedded in his words a “plea for grace” (Psalm 86:6).
We also might need help hearing you, because we can be impatient and stubborn and defensive (what do you do with an apple of gold anyway?). God models this humility and patience: “God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance” (Romans 2:4). God is kind because he doesn’t have anything to prove. That security produces amazing results in relationships, and in men in general.
Be patient. We are slow. Don’t feel like you need to yell at us. We’ve been yelled at. Be firm if we need it. We need to be able to ask you anything—and get an honest, non-judgmental answer. This includes wisdom for Christian growth in general—in fighting sin. We need to feel, “We’re in this together,” not, “You’re such a failure.”
Most men already feel like failures. Be original, and be with us. Is 1 Corinthians 10:13 really true? “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man.” Help us to learn to practice the tension of that verse: that it is “common”—not weird or stigmatized or something to keep in the dark—and to embrace the call to “endure it,” which is nearly impossible without community. We need a place—a man—that challenges us to grow, but also makes it safe for us to confess.