For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake, engaged in the same conflict that you saw I had and now hear that I still have. Philippians 1:29-30
Last year, one of the runaway bestsellers in the book world was Conn and Hal Iggulden’s, The Dangerous Book For Boys. The instant classic relates tales of historical heroes, tells how to tie knots, make a treehouse, and even how to talk with girls. It is a throwback to our grandfather’s boyhood, and is more than a great read. It is part of a reawakening that boys will never learn to be men unless they get off the couch and learn to take risk, try new things, and get dirty.
In an interview with Amazon.com, one of the authors comments on the book:
Amazon: Clearly, you tapped into something big. What do you think it was?
Iggulden: In a word, fathers. I am one myself and I think we’ve become aware that the whole “health and safety” overprotective culture isn’t doing our sons any favors. Boys need to learn about risk. They need to fall off things occasionally, or–and this is the important bit–they’ll take worse risks on their own. If we do away with challenging playgrounds and cancel school trips for fear of being sued, we don’t end up with safer boys–we end up with them walking on train tracks. In the long run, it’s not safe at all to keep our boys in the house with a Playstation. It’s not good for their health or their safety.
You only have to push a boy on a swing to see how much he enjoys the thrill of danger. It’s hard-wired. Remove any opportunity to test his courage and they’ll find ways to test themselves that will be seriously dangerous for everyone around them.
I know this is true. If the church or parents do not give kids, and boys specifically, dangerous things to do, they will end up in trouble. Even Christian kids need to take risks and try new things. They need to take challenges, get uncomfortable, and feel a rush of adrenaline. I believe that God made them this way. And I believe He made them this way for the sake of the gospel.
Let’s face it, the gospel is not for wimps. And the means the real Dangerous Book is the Bible. My friend and fellow pastor has been reading lately to his 5-year old son, and he has been soaking it up. What adventure novel have they been perusing together? The Old Testament. Something resonates in us men when we read stories of men who were real men, and especially men who were real missionaries or martyrs, for this is who we have been called to be.
In another marvelous book called Trials and Triumphs by Richard Hannula, my family has found stories of Polycarp, Augustine, Luther and Bunyan … men who were chased down, imprisoned, persecuted and martyred for their faith. And these stories have resonated in our souls.
We are all created for danger because following Christ in a world gone mad is dangerous. We are made to take risks because the gospel is risky. We are attracted to challenges because the Great Commission is challenging. And God made us this way.
So, as a dad, I teach my kids that sharing the gospel is their responsibility, and mine. We endure hardship at times in order that others might hear about Jesus. We give up creature comforts to share with those less fortunate. And we are teaching them that the goal of school is not to train them to make a lot of money or get a good job after college, but that they might be equipped to serve their King in His work of redemption.
The rise of sensitivity training and lack of training for “dangerous duty” is why so many people stay home from church when they have a cold. And why Sunday School teachers call in sick because “they’re not feeling well” every other week. Or why people get their feelings hurt and quit. Or why church members tell you they cannot serve because they need to take a season (more like a year or two) of rest. I know there are exceptions, but in a general sense, I say to that: “rest when you get to heaven.” God does not need a church of wimps and whiners. He needs a church of heroes. That is who He made us to be.
So suck it up. Go to the park and walk off the asphalt path. Play with BB guns (I gave my son one today for his birthday) and slingshots (you’ll shoot yer eye out, kid), learn to hunt and fish and clean what you catch, buy the book, Last Child in the Woods, and read about Nature-deficit disorder. And most importantly, read to your kids from the Dangerous Book. Take them with you when sharing the gospel. Fill your homes with people who need Jesus. Stuff tracts in all the “atheism” books at Barnes & Noble (we do this frequently - try it, its fun and dangerous). And prepare your hearts, parents, that someday your children might be missionaries instead of masters of the universe, martyrs for the gospel instead of dying the slow death of self-indulgent, self-worshiping consumers.
And be glad.
February 1st, 2008 by Roger Ferrell