THE WISE FATHER
Recently I’ve been thoroughly enjoying a reality series called Yukon Men. As a young man, I had ambitions of living a subsistence lifestyle in the wilderness, much like these men and their families portrayed in this series. I admire their work ethic, their self-reliance, their perseverance and resourcefulness, and how they bring their children right into their challenging, do-or-die way of life. This particular series primarily focuses on a few fathers and their sons living on the Yukon River. Hence the name, Yukon Men.
Without realizing it, the producers of this show inadvertently portray how unwise a father can be in the way they deal with their sons. I am sure most viewers may not even notice it, but it caught my attention right away. Each of these dads has very good intentions. Each father is trying to pass on a way of life to their sons and they are doing some praiseworthy things with them. It blessed me to see dads involved with their sons. They’re trying to teach them how to survive a way of life that’s extremely difficult, takes a tremendous amount of self-initiative, self-discipline, focus, hard work, forward-thinking, wise use of limited resources, resourcefulness, awareness of danger, and prepares them to deal with dangerous situations they’re faced with almost every day. But what became quite apparent to me, is how frustrated some of these dads get with their sons. They often berate them, degrade and belittle them. I’m not even sure the fathers realize they’re doing it. They seem to think it’s normal parenting. They try to motivate them but often in counterproductive ways. They tend to exasperate their sons, to the point that for some, the heart is taken right out of their boys. Certainly, there is a time for tough love, for requiring our sons to do what they don’t want to do. This show certainly illustrates that.
As I watch the series, these men are trying to survive in the harshest of climates, living with daily difficulties most today can’t imagine. Each father exhibits tremendous knowledge and skill for this challenging way of life. They have to chop all their own wood. They have to hunt in brutal conditions, often in temperatures of -40 to -70 degrees below zero, to get all the food they eat. They have to go out on their trap lines, traveling hundreds of miles on their snow machines or dog sleds. They have to catch hundreds of pounds of fish to feed their dogs and families through the long winters. They have to fix their own equipment. They smoke their own meat. Many have to get their own water, often by drilling through the ice and filling their own buckets, every day. There are no stores of any kind for hundreds of miles. Bears can break into their cabins. They have to know how to use their guns and hunt well, often walking for miles, and many hours trying to find moose or caribou. They have to know how to survive the dangers of their environment. It is really inspiring to see.
But how I wish I could impart to them some wisdom for being winsome to their sons. How to patiently, kindly, and effectively teach their sons, and take the time to explain to their sons the reasons behind what they are teaching them. This verse kept running through my mind constantly, The tongue of the wise makes knowledge attractive. Or this verse, Fathers do not exasperate your children. If you do, they will become discouraged and quit trying. Some of these dads make it clear that almost nothing their sons do, pleases them, or was ever done good enough. I could see it crush the son’s heart and desire.
These fathers forgot that as young men, they each chose this way of life for themselves! Some were part of that 70s “get back to nature” movement, live off the land, Jeremiah Johnson style. Their sons did not walk through that decision for themselves. They may not fully grasp the strong appeal of this way of life that captured their father’s heart and imagination as young men. This way of life takes tremendous sacrifices and endurance of great hardships to make it. Each of these dads loves this way of life. Fathers have got to find a way to pass on their love of this way of life to their own sons. Just as we Christian fathers need to pass on a love of our Christ-way of life to our sons. We need to explain to our sons, in ways they understand, why Christ captured our hearts and why this Biblical way of life is so appealing to us. What it is that’s so wonderful about walking with God. The old “because I said so”, or “because God says so”, just don’t cut it.
We need to impart a vision to our sons as to why we’re striving to build their character and prepare them for success in the future. We need to wisely motivate them. We must help them grasp why self-discipline and self-reliance are so critically important. We need them to understand how to face obstacles, trust God, and overcome them. They’re going to be facing tremendous challenges in their adult lives. We must wisely prepare them so they can face those painful and often excruciating problems that invade their lives. They must know how to deal with failure, or the elusiveness of success in a particular endeavor that each of us has to overcome.
We cannot control what life throws at our adult sons, but we have to teach them how to walk by faith through the difficult journeys they’ll face in their adult lives. Without real, genuine faith, without reliance on God, life will crush them. Without character, they’ll falter under the weight of adversity. They won’t survive the brutality of life.
Helping you become a Strong Disciple,
Because of Jesus,
Pastor Mark Darling