Whose Boy Are You?

June 5, 2023

I love Father’s Day. My wife always helped my kids do something special for me when they were young. Now that they have families of their own they work together every year to get me a great gift. I am blessed to have a father who set a great example for me. King Solomon said this about fathers, “The righteous lead blameless lives; blessed are their children after them” (Proverbs 20:7). My father lived this out in my life and now I do my best to lead a blameless life as well, so it will open doors for God to bless my children.

Comedienne Lucille Ball, in an interview with Merv Griffin in 1996, was asked what was wrong with our country? She answered, “Papa’s missing. Things are falling apart because Papa’s gone. If Papa were here he would fix it.” Things have gotten a lot worse since 1996 for those kids whose Papa is missing.

These next two weeks I want to share some thoughts about being a Dad. The first is one of the great callings God has placed upon me as a man, to be involved in Boy Scouts. I have gotten to help hundreds of boys become men in my 40+ years of scouting. I have worked with countless parents to be mentors to these boys, many of whom have not had a male role model in their lives otherwise. We have made a difference, a big difference in the lives of these boys. I know because sometimes they come back and tell me so.

I want to challenge men reading this to find a way to make a difference. I found this list of 12 things a man can do to help kids who need good role models (of course, these are easily adapted for women). 1. Contact your local junior or senior high school to tutor a needy kid. 2. Teach Sunday School. 3. Meet one-on-one weekly, with a boy in your church or neighborhood who doesn’t have a father in the home. 4. Become a leader in Boy Scouts or Cub Scouts. 5. Coach a sport. 6. Hire a potentially “at risk” kid for yard work or in your business. 7. Volunteer to work in a youth organization. 8. Lead a Bible study in a juvenile detention center or group home.

Preacher and author Dr. Fred Craddock tells a story about vacationing with his wife one summer in Gatlinburg, Tennessee. He met the restaurant owner who shared this story. “I’m Ben Hooper, and I was born not far from here across the mountains. My mother wasn’t married when I was born, so I had a pretty hard time. When I started to school, my classmates had a name for me, and it wasn’t a very nice name. I used to go off by myself at recess and lunch time because the things they said to me cut me so deep.

When I was about 12 years old, a new preacher came to our church. I would always go in late and slip out early. But one day the preacher said the benediction so fast I got caught and had to walk out with the crowd. I could feel every eye in the church on me. I felt a big hand on my shoulder and the preacher was looking right at me. ‘Who are you, son? Whose boy are you?’ he asked. I felt this big weight coming down on me. It was like a big black cloud. Even the preacher was putting me down. Studying my face, he began to smile a big smile of recognition. ‘Wait a minute!’ he said. ‘I know who you are. I see the family resemblance now. You are a child of God.’ With that he slapped me across the rump and said, ‘Boy, you’ve got a great inheritance. Go and claim it.’

The old man looked across the table at Dr. Craddock and said, ‘Those were the most important words anybody ever said to me, and I’ve never forgotten them.’ With that, he smiled shook hands, and moved on to another. As he walked away, Craddock, a native Tennessean himself, remembered from his studies of Tennessee history that on two occasions the people of Tennessee had elected to the office of governor men who had been born out of wedlock. One of them was a man named Ben Hooper” (adapted from a sermon “Is It Well with Your Family?” by Fred Craddock).

I hope Mr. Hooper’s story inspires you to look again at the ways you can impact a child that needs a role model. It could be the greatest Father’s Day gift you will ever give to yourself. (To find out more about Al Earley or read previous articles see, www.lagrangepres.org).