There is a little boy in the community that I will call James (not his real name) who is ALWAYS getting into trouble! It seems as if every time I walk down the road the lady who cares for him is shouting at him about doing something.
Last Sunday i came early to get ready for church and he came to see what was going on.
James looked bored, so I gave him a job……
and he loved it!!!
Before Church James helped me
- Unlock and open doors
- Open the windows
- Put new batteries in the microphone (yes I let him speak into it)
- And do a bit of cleaning
Later he sat down and started playing a word fishing game I brought over the Christmas season. He was more excited about catching fish than the words though.
Sunday morning reminded me a huge cause of his disobedience (and the disobedience of many young men) is boredom.
A few weeks ago I found a tweet that described this issue perfectly (you can find the original tweet here).
For those of you reading this post on social media, the tweet says “give your sons pocket knives not phones.”
Now I don’t believe this is a statement about cell phones (after all he ironically used one to share that message). Instead, it is a statement about how boys (and men) are made.
Men are created to work (produce things) and keep (protect…. especially his family). They find their greatest satisfaction in accomplishing things.
Matt Patrick then understands a pocket knife that can be used to create will bring much more happiness to a boy than a phone. Because he is then DOING SOMETHING instead of just being entertained.
Which brings me back to James….
Because boredom is the source of so much disobedience we must give boys a job
By this I mean give them tasks to accomplish that are supervised by you, and followed up with strong praise when they accomplish it. I commonly use the phrase “good job!” as a compliment when they accomplish something to the point where James himself will now say “good job.”
Giving a job starts with the basic things like unlocking doors. But over time, we invite young men into deeper and more difficult jobs. My mechanic will usually come by me when something needs to be fixed and replace it on the road in front of my house. This will invariably draw a crowd of little boys are just DYING to have a part to play in that big job!
There is a lot more to say about this subject, but let me finish with this thought.
Just let boys be boys
Boys are fearless balls of constant energy that we often desire to harness (control). This is necessary sometimes, but its more important to focus that energy instead of harnessing it. There is a difference because harnessing it suppresses that energy, focusing it invests that energy into a job or goal.
I firmly believe James and those like him don’t need to hear us say “calm down”. They need to hear us say “come help me with this.”