When my husband, Tom, got the book Raising a Modern Day Knight
from a friend, he tossed it to me with a "Here, honey. Tell me whether it's a keeper." He knows I read very quickly, and I usually sift through homeschooling and parenting materials to tell him which ones I think are important enough for him to put on his "list". A couple of days later, I picked it up and was hooked! I finished it in two days, then went back to make notes. It ended up on Tom's "list" by the end of the week. At the top! I even slipped it in his briefcase when he left on a business trip.
Why? It had something we'd been looking for, but hadn't known how to define. Right there in the introduction Dr. Lewis asked the questions my husband and I had begun to ponder as our son edged towards the five foot mark:
How does a boy grow into a real man - a Godly man?
Where does he get manly character, vision, conviction, and sense of self?
Who confers on him the title and responsibilities of manhood?
He promised answers to questions young men struggle with today - "How does a man act? What are my unique responsibilities? What role should I assume in marriage?" And he outlined a Biblically based process to call our sons to Godly manhood, including ceremonies to celebrate passage points from boy to man. Everything is firmly rooted in the Scripture references that grace almost every page. I couldn't wait to hear more!
The process he describes uses the model of knighthood from the Middle Ages (hence the name of the book), which offers three things boys need desperately:
A well-defined set of ideals - He helps you formulate 1) a vision for manhood, 2) a code of conduct, and 3) a transcendent cause that becomes ideals for your sons.
A well-defined process - He identifies four specific stages as opportunities to challenge and instruct your sons in special ways.
Ceremonies - He gives examples of ceremonies that can be used to celebrate and seal the various stages leading from boyhood to manhood. An analogy he used to explain the worth of these came from volleyball. The training and instruction you do with your sons over the years is the set-up, and the ceremony is the spike play. The spike won't work with out the set-up, but all the set-up in the world won't drive home the significance of entering a new stage the way the "spike" of a ceremony can.
After Tom read the book we prayerfully considered, then decided to adopt this model in discipling our son. It's not that much of a change; but the real difference it's made is that now Hudson knows where this is all supposed to be leading. He has a written vision and code of conduct to look at, and we've even had the first ceremony (see below).
Since he was just turning 9, we planned a "halfway to manhood" ceremony. Hudson was (of course!) wondering what it was all about when we started, but took it seriously. By the end when Tom and I knelt with him while each of the adults prayed over him he did cry just a little, but Tom just took him in his arms and we all went on. Of course, as Tom ended up with "you are my beloved son in whom I am well pleased", I was crying a little, too...
Impact? Well, the week afterward Hudson told me that he thought he should go on a short fast and pray to God to improve his attitude toward homeschooling since sometimes writing is a little...challenging. After I picked my jaw up off the floor I said I'd talk to Daddy. The next morning I said he could fast from breakfast until sundown, but must have fruit and fruit juices during the day. He went to pray at lunch, and came back to tell me he had really felt as though he and God were "talking" together for the first time. I knew that came directly out of some of the things Tom said about Piety during the ceremony.
We have truly been blessed by the practical, hands-on approach to training and discipling Dr. Lewis describes in this book. And it's clear that he built it all on the only foundation that will stand forever - the Bible.
Tom, Hudson, and I just after the ceremony was finished. Hudson is holding the poster that the scriptures were on. The ceremony was held at our church on the evening of Hudson's ninth birthday, then we went back to our house for a big potluck dinner with the families of the men who took part in the ceremony.
This is the script that the ceremony for Hudson was based on (since we didn't read it from the script, it was a little different in real life). We used some concepts from the book, but really came up with this particular ceremony ourselves. I made a poster with removable flaps for the scriptures (see photo above), and we had salt, sugar, a pocket knife, and a necklace engraved with "Courage, Commitment, Purity, Piety" on the table at the appropriate places (see script below).
Opening and explanation: Mom
All sing "Rise Up, O Men of God" from the chairs, then all participating adults move forward to the table with Hudson. As soon as the four other adults are ready at the table;
Self Control: Family Friend 1
Lead Hudson up the steps to the table, and say:
"God calls all believers to bear fruit for him. Please read aloud the first scripture."
Show Hudson the flap for Galatians and let him read it aloud.
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,
23 gentleness and self-control. Gal 5:22-23 (NIV)
"Without self-control, all the other things God desires in a man will be much harder to achieve."
Give Hudson the salt to taste.
"Self-control requires effort; this salt is a symbol the blood, sweat, and tears that self-control will often cost you. Fortunately, He doesn't expect us to do this all by your own efforts. We believe in you, and we believe even more in God and His promises. Please read aloud the second scripture."
Show Hudson the flap for "with God all things are possible"
"With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible." Matt 19:26 (NIV)
(Personal anecdote about Self Control)
Courage: Family Friend 2
Lead Hudson to the Courage section of the table, and say:
"God calls a man to be courageous, both physically and spiritually. Courage doesn't mean you're never afraid, it just means you've come to trust in this next scripture. Please read it aloud."
Show Hudson the flap for
15 When the servant of the man of God got up and went out early the next morning, an army with horses and chariots had surrounded the city. "Oh, my lord, what shall we do?" the servant asked.16 "Don't be afraid," the prophet answered. "Those who are with us are more than those who are with them."
2 Kings 6:15-16 (NIV)
"God expects a man to live courageously by fighting for righteousness. Although this knife is for you to carry as a symbol of courage, most of the things you'll need courage to face don't threaten your body. They threaten our comfort, our popularity, our relationships…but is that what God says is truly important?"
Sword used wrongly:
"There are those … whose teeth are swords and whose jaws are set with knives to devour the poor from the earth, the needy from among mankind. Prov 30:12,14 (NIV)
Sword used with good intentions but bad judgement:
51 With that, one of Jesus' companions reached for his sword, drew it out and struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his ear. Matt 26:51 (NIV)
"Sword" defined as the word of God:
17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
Eph 6:17 (NIV)
Sword of "the word" as used by Jesus:
1 Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the desert,
2 where for forty days he was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing during those days, and at the end of them he was hungry.
3 The devil said to him, "If you are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread."
4 Jesus answered, "It is written: 'Man does not live on bread alone.'"
5 The devil led him up to a high place and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world.
6 And he said to him, "I will give you all their authority and splendor, for it has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to.
7 So if you worship me, it will all be yours."
8 Jesus answered, "It is written: 'Worship the Lord your God and serve him only.'"
9 The devil led him to Jerusalem and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. "If you are the Son of God," he said, "throw yourself down from here.
10 For it is written: "'He will command his angels concerning you to guard you carefully;
11 they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.'"
12 Jesus answered, "It says: 'Do not put the Lord your God to the test.'"
13 When the devil had finished all this tempting, he left him until an opportune time.
Luke 4:1-13 (NIV)
(Personal anecdote about Courage)
Lead Hudson to the Piety section of the table and say:
"God calls a man to piety - a life lived in devotion to Him. This bible is God's word, and it's a symbol of how we get to know God. He wants more than just our actions, He wants a relationship with us. And how can we have a relationship with someone we never listen to, never talk to, never spend time with? Yes, piety means prayer, fasting, meditation, devotions, and many other things; but knowing God through His word is the beginning, the foundation, of a life of piety."
And a lot of other things…(My husband made up his own scriptJ - the other men all added other things, too, which was just great. It made each section very personal)
Lead Hudson to the Purity section of the table and say:
"God calls a man to purity. Where does he look? Please read the next scripture."
Show Hudson the flap for "outward appearance v. at the heart."
7 The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart." 1 Sam 16:7 (NIV)
How can we purify our hearts? We can't. But God can, and does. When you repented and became a believer, God purified your heart. The question is, then, how do you keep it that way living in the world as you do? Please read the next scriptures aloud."
Show Hudson the flap for "whatsoever is right, etc." and "I will set no vile thing before me".
8 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things. Phil 4:8 (NIV)
3 I will set before my eyes no vile thing. Psalms 101:3 (NIV)
"You must have heard that first scripture a thousand times, because I pray it every time I put you to bed. It's that important. As you get older it'll get even more important, because Dad and I won't be around all the time to help you make decisions about what to watch, what to read, who to talk to… At some point there will be something in your heart that shouldn't be there. And because our words and actions are the overflow of our hearts, there'll be something in your life that shouldn't be there. You won't be able to clean it up yourself, but God has provided. Please read the next scripture aloud."
Show Hudson the flap for "create in me a clean heart".
10 Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
11 Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me.
12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.
Psalms 51:10-12 (NIV)
(Read the "blender story")
This sugar has to be refined again and again before it becomes pure. But once it does, there's nothing like it. Come and taste the sweetness, and let it be a symbol to you of the sweetness of standing in God's presence with a pure heart.
Commitment: Family Friend 3
Lead Hudson to the Commitment section of the table and say:
"God calls a man to a life of commitment in three broad areas - a God to obey, a woman to love, and a work to complete. We praise God that you've already committed your life to God, and we give you this scripture of what God wants from you."
Show Hudson the flap for "obedience v. sacrifice".
22 "Does the LORD delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the voice of the LORD? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams. 1 Sam 15:22 (NIV)
"There are always women in your life to love - your mother, your sister, and Christ's bride, the church. If God should also bless you with a wife, he expects you as the head of your household to be a servant leader - providing, protecting, and guiding. It will be your responsibility before God, as it is for all of us men here, to lead our families in God's ways.
Show Hudson the flap for "as for me and my house".
. 15 As for me and my household, we will serve the LORD." Josh 24:15 (NIV)
"But remember that you must always build your home on Christ, the one true foundation."
Show Hudson the flap for Ps. 127:1:
"Unless the LORD builds the house, those who build it labor in vain." Ps. 127:1a (ESV)
"God has a plan for your life, and he has prepared good works for you to do. Pray for him to lead you to them, and when he does, do them for Him through His Spirit."
Show Hudson the flap for Ephesians 2:10:
10 For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Eph 2:10 (NIV)
God's promise for those who commit to him:
Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him and he will do this:6 He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn, the justice of your cause like the noonday sun.
Psalms 37:6 (NIV)
(Personal anecdote about Commitment)
Anointing: Dad (prayer by all)
Pick up the necklace, and lead Hudson in front of the altar where Mom and Dad put the necklace on him. Dad anoints Hudson with spikenard, and all move forward to pray over him in turn (make a circle or semicircle, whatever fits best), beginning with Mom, and ending with Dad. All recite the following:
1 In you, O LORD, I have taken refuge; let me never be put to shame; deliver me in your righteousness.
2 Turn your ear to me, come quickly to my rescue; be my rock of refuge, a strong fortress to save me.
3 Since you are my rock and my fortress, for the sake of your name lead and guide me.
4 Free me from the trap that is set for me, for you are my refuge.
5 Into your hands I commit my spirit; redeem me, O LORD, the God of truth.
Psalms 31:1-5 (NIV)
All sing "A Mighty Fortress is Our God".
The End (and the Beginning…)
(editor's note: Jean Brainerd is a dear friend and member of our hsboys email encouragement group. She is a continual inspiration to me! Jean also has a special interest and expertise in international adoption. She and her husband, Tom, can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Raising a Modern Day Knight
by Robert Lewis may be purchased by using our special HomeschoolingBoys link to Christian Book Distributors. Please use this link below to support our site!
Raising a Modern Day Knight: A Father's Role in Guiding His Son to Authentic Manhood - revised edition