Imagine a world of dads and sons—all intentionally engaged in adventurous and uniquely masculine challenges. Now, imagine their accomplishments being recognized by their peers and community. Even more, imagine these boys strategically advancing to greater challenge and responsibility producing growing, self-confident and godly leaders. What a picture of godly fatherhood, right? This can happen. There are three keys to this dream moving from theory to practice. In this post, I’ll cover the three keys to building godly sons—and offer tools to help grab each key.


This is a post from Stephen Ashton in partnership with Trail Life USA. More on Stephen and Trail Life below.



Key #1: Building godly sons means cultivating relationships.

Raising godly sons requires time, discipline, and intentionality. Fathers who want to raise boys to be leaders of character must carve time out of their busy lives to cultivate healthy relationships. Racing matchbox cars on dirt trails in the back yard, wrestling on the living room floor, building tracks for Thomas the Train, tossing a football in the front yard, attending a baseball game together, pitching a tent under the stars, and baiting a hook on the bank of a lake are the language of boyhood. Only when men dare to enter a boy’s world, enjoy them, communicate affection, and speak encouragement do they earn the right to speak truth and meaning into their lives.

Tool alert: Manhood Journey created the free Busy Dad Cheatsheet to help dads overcome communication challenges when it comes to connecting with their wife and kids.

Key #2: Building godly sons means growing self-discipline.

To grow in character and resilience, a boy needs men in his life who are more than a buddy.  Building muscles of self-discipline requires training and cannot be learned alone. A boy needs a caring adult who will provide “a solid sense of boundaries and a glimpse of who he can be … Boys take great comfort in firm, fair, and consistent guidelines, and anticipated reward” Trail Life wrote an eBook on this very thing called 5 Critical Needs of Boys. They will test limits, but they want to know expectations will hold. Firm, fair, and consistent guidelines provide a foundation for healthy relationships, and engaged relationships provide the necessary support for parents to raise expectations. As boys develop discipline, they become prepared for greater responsibility. This is what the godly father helps his son learn.

Tool alert: Grab Trail Life USA’s 5 Critical Needs of Boys.

Key #3: Building godly sons means growing independence and responsibility.

A boy’s longing for independence and responsibility is a necessary God-given desire to enable him to develop into a mature man of character. From a young age boys begin to naturally emulate their fathers. They need to enter a world of manhood and to know and be known by healthy men. While they are young, involve them in household projects, chores, trips to the store, and daily responsibilities, then teach and expect him to take on those tasks as they grow in maturity and ability. Boys thrive when provided with proper challenge, adventure, accomplishment, accolade, and advancement. Intentionally increasing responsibility and independence as sons mature is essential. This is biblical fatherhood. When not provided appropriately, instead of becoming confident, godly leaders of character, boys fall into one of the twin pitfalls of adolescence: anger or apathy.

Tool alert: Manhood Journey wrote the eBook 7 Deadly Sins of a Disengaged Dad to help dad take the lead and fight sin in his heart. So he can then fight sin in his home. 


stephen-ashton-150.jpgThis is a guest post from Stephen Ashton. Stephen is the National Manager of Marketing at Trail Life USA, an Adjunct Professor at Clarks Summit University, and the author of Remembering the Wilderness Road. An avid canoer and backpacker, he lived in the woods for 3 three years with at-risk youth where he had the opportunity to learn from Therapeutic Wilderness Camping Pioneers. He spent 15 years serving families in wilderness therapy and has consulted with wilderness program around the world. He and his wife Abigail are currently in the process of moving to South Carolina with their incredible tribe of four rambunctious boys
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