American young men are not that impressive, and this fact does not seem to trouble them. When it comes to grades, they are fairly satisfied with mediocrity. When it comes to being a gentleman, they have no desire to be the chivalrous knight in shining armor. When it comes to righteousness, they are much more concerned with reputation than character. For them, greatness is not found in virtue but in being followed on Instagram. Their great motivation is to get responsibilities out of the way so they can get home and play another round of Call of Duty. Such is the condition of many young men in high school and college. Such is the condition of many overgrown adolescents who still live at home with their mom at age 28.
However, I have greater expectations for my sons. Perhaps they can be like Daniel:
Daniel 1:1-20 In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came to Jerusalem and besieged it … Then the king commanded Ashpenaz, his chief eunuch, to bring some of the people of Israel, both of the royal family and of the nobility, youths without blemish, of good appearance and skillful in all wisdom, endowed with knowledge, understanding learning, and competent to stand in the king’s palace, and to teach them the literature and language of the Chaldeans. The king assigned them a daily portion of the food that the king ate, and of the wine that he drank. They were to be educated for three years, and at the end of that time they were to stand before the king. Among these were Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah of the tribe of Judah … And God gave Daniel favor and compassion in the sight of the chief of the eunuchs … At the end of ten days it was seen that they were better in appearance and fatter in flesh than all the youths who ate the king’s food … As for these four youths, God gave them learning and skill in all literature and wisdom, and Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams. At the end of the time, when the king had commanded that they should be brought in, the chief of the eunuchs brought them in before Nebuchadnezzar. And the king spoke with them, and among all of them none was found like Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. Therefore they stood before the king. And in every matter of wisdom and understanding about which the king inquired of them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and enchanters that were in all his kingdom …
First, Daniel was well groomed. He was one without blemish and of good appearance. Yes, there is a time to let one’s hair out, but there is also a time to tuck one’s shirt in.
Second, Daniel was well educated. When the king’s representatives sought someone with knowledge and wisdom, Daniel was selected.
Third, Daniel was teachable. Not only was the king interested in finding someone with intelligence, but he was desiring to find young men who would continue making progress.
Fourth, Daniel had great friends. He associated himself with three other young men who loved God more than anything.
Fifth, Daniel was strong in his own faith. He was separated from his father, mother, pastor and covenant community. He was immersed in a godless culture. However, his faith was his own. Even at a young age, Daniel was a man of God who stood tall in a pagan and hedonistic world.
Sixth, Daniel was faithful in his spiritual disciplines. In this chapter we see God revealing truth to him. In later chapters we will see the diligence of Daniel is speaking to God in prayer. Daniel was one who grew stronger in his faith because of his faithfulness in utilizing the means of grace.
Therefore, in the end, Daniel and his friends were found to be in a league of their own. Upon review, they were declared ten times better than the rest. And in the end, Daniel and his friends were able to reshape the world that hoped to reshape them.
So I close with these thoughts:
Son, I was not such a young man growing up. Oh how I wish I could rewind and redo. Be sharper than your father.
Son, I have failed you throughout the years. I have not encouraged you to be the total man God would have you be. I have been overbearing and selfish at times. I have been slothful and let things go that ought to have been addressed. Oh how I wish I could rewind and make amends.
Son, you still have time to learn from me and the Scripture. You can still be that one who is excellent in appearance, education, and humility. You can still develop life-long Christian friendships that will thrill your soul. You can be the man of God who communes with God regularly. You can stand head and shoulders above the rest, if you are a man after God’s own heart.
Son, please set your sights higher than the lost around you. Look at men such as Samuel and Jesus who increased in wisdom, stature, and in favor with God and man. Look at men in your church who have proven to rise above the tide of mediocrity. Please follow their examples, for good examples are so hard to find in your contemporary culture.
And fellow parents and churchmen, let us set our sights higher as well. Let’s take our children to the Gospel over and over again, and let’s rejoice as our children stand head-and-shoulders above those who know not our Christ.