September 30: Be Careful

Toby was in the basement this morning watching Super Why while I started to climb out of the pile of laundry that built up this last week, and I caught the tale end of the story. Wyatt's super story answer to his problem was "be careful." He said that it was his dad's motto, and his dad was always telling him to "be careful!" As he was going outside to run and play, he said to his dad, "I know, be careful," proudly exclaiming that this was now his motto, too.

That bothered me, and at first I wasn't sure why. I probably say that to my kids, especially my wild boys, all the time and don't think twice about it. In fact, I know I do. I'm not sure that I will anymore, though.

Be careful. Play it safe. Don't take risks. Be cautious. Don't run too fast or climb too high. Don't test the limits. Adventure is overrated. Passivity is best.

Be careful.

Is that really the message we want our little boys, who will grow up one day to become men, to embrace? Do we really want careful men? Should that be their motto? Really?? At the end of their lives, will being a "careful" man be on the list of qualities that are praiseworthy? Do little girls, daydreaming about their future husband, wish and pray in the core of their being for a "careful" man? I don't think so. And maybe it's because I've been reading Captivating, which is the female version of Wild at Heart, by John Eldredge, but being "careful" seems to go against the very heart of a man, and God.

Were the heros in Braveheart, Gladiator, and Saving Private Ryan "careful?" If they were, there wouldn't have been a movie. Was Jim Elliot careful? Or George Mueller? Or Jesus? Sharing the gospel with violent, foreign tribes, depending on the Lord to provide food for the orphanage each day, and dying a horrific death on the cross for everyone in all of history is Anything. But. Careful. God didn't create men to be careful, and ultimately we wouldn't want them to be! He created them to be brave, to fight battles, and to rescue the beauty. If they don't, it throws everything off balance.

Let me ask you a question: Where is Adam, while the serpent is tempting Eve? He's standing right there: "She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it" (Gen. 3:6). The Hebrew for "with her" means right there, elbow to elbow. Adam isn't away in another part of the forest; he has no alibi. He is standing right there, watching the whole thing unravel. What does he do? Nothing. Absolutely nothing. He says not a word, doesn't lift a finger...He won't risk, he won't fight, and he won't rescue Eve. Our first Father--the first real man--gave in to paralysis. He denied his very nature and went passive. And every man after him, every son of Adam, carries in his heart now the same failure. Every man repeats the sin of Adam, every day. We won't risk, we won't fight, and we won't rescue Eve. We are truly a chip off the old block. (John Eldredge, Wild at Heart)

Now, don't misunderstand me: I'm not saying to allow your boys to be careless and run buck wild. As with everything else in life, there's a balance. It's important to exercise wisdom and discretion in our parenting and in our actions: just because it could be done doesn't mean it should be done. The goal is to communicate to our boys a realistic belief in their ability to soar in areas of giftedness and to surrender to God, allowing Him to lead the way.

Our boys and future men will never be able to live to the fullest or experience God's best for their lives if they are concerned about being careful. If we drill the message into our little boys that they always need to be careful, then they will never test the limits to find out what they are truly capable of. They will never be willing to fully trust God with their very breath, life and future, because let's face it, trusting God is a big risk. But God is brave, a fierce warrior, and He is good--He is worthy of our trust and our very life. And He made man in His image.

Careful boys will become careful men. Will you raise careful men? Ones who don't rock the boat, who play it safe, who don't take risks, who don't speak up, who don't fight, who are passive, depressed, and ultimately unfufilled? Or will you raise brave men, fierce warriors; men who are good, who are willing to defend and protect? Men who are bold, who lead, and who change the world? Men who have been stretched to the limits, who know what they're capable of, men who know that to trust an almighty God with their very lives and the lives of their family is worth the risk? Men who are willing to take that risk each and every day, regardless of where it might lead them and what sacrifices they are called to make? Those men are not careful. They are anything but.

Who is this glorious king? He is our Lord, a strong and mighty warrior. {Psalm 24:8, CEV}

"Safe?...Who said anything about safe? 'Course he isn't safe. But he's good. He's the King, I tell you." {regarding Aslan in The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe, by C.S. Lewis}