A few days ago, I emerged from a father-son wilderness survival camp at Twin Eagles Wilderness School—a cold, thrilling, and occasionally harrowing epic experience—with eight other men and their boys, along with my own twin twelve-year-old sons.
While in that survival camp, snuggled up in my sleeping bag at night as I listened to the pitter-patter of icy cold raindrops against the canvas wall of a traditional tee-pee, I read myself to sleep with a book by former podcast guest Douglas Wilson entitled Father Hunger: Why God Calls Men to Love and Lead Their Families.
In the book (which I highly recommend to any father or future father who is reading this), Wilson describes fatherlessness as a “rot that is eating away at the modern soul.” He points out that most families are starving for fathers, even if Dad is physically “around”, and there’s a huge cost to our children and our society because of it.
One section of the book that really struck a chord for me was when Wilson mentions that men are much more important, crucial, and influential than they believe themselves to be. He says that it is the easiest thing in the world for a man to grow up, get married, have kids, and still think of himself the way he did when he was a boy. Just another dude hanging around the house, making messes, telling jokes and eating food, but not necessarily building a legacy, creating traditions, providing deep meaning and presence and being a rock of protection, leadership and vision for his family.
In other words, he is “a boy who shaves.” He believes that he is just one more person living in this household—just one more of the roommates. The opposite of being a “boy who shaves” is true masculinity, which is the glad assumption of sacrificial responsibility. A man who assumes responsibility is learning masculinity, and a culture that encourages men to take responsibility is a culture that is a friend to masculinity.
So now I'm curious.
If you are a man, son, husband, or father who is reading this, are you still “a boy who shaves?” Or have you embraced the danger, fear, and perils that accompany the great sacrificial responsibilities of manhood?
Are you a father, a leader, and a king, or still a boy?
If the latter, how do you plan to change?
If you indeed still are “a boy who shaves,” then I highly recommend you not only read Father Hunger, but also read this article I wrote about being a real father, leader and king. I'd also like to hear your thoughts below about fatherlessness, stepping up to your responsibility plate as man, and forsaking boyhood while simultaneously embracing tender and loving yet tough and strong masculinity.