Feature Article—Raising Future Pastors by Douglas Wilson
Educational Helps – by Laurie Detweiler
Raising Future Pastors
Bringing up boys who will be equipped to be pastors is quite a challenge, and it is a challenge on two counts. The first is the obvious challenge—bringing up a son who will want to love and serve God in every aspect of his life. This is the challenge that all parents face with all their children—including those who will become doctors and firemen, mothers, and nurses. The second challenge is harder to pin down. Over the course of centuries, the ideal that comes to mind when we think of the ministry has become increasingly an effeminate ideal. It seems odd to say that we have an ideal that nobody seems to like, but that is what we have managed to do.
So the challenge is this. Parents should want to bring up boys who will love God in distinctively masculine ways, and they will also have to do this while teaching their boys that this distinctive masculinity can find a place in ministry. Moreover, the parents need to teach their sons that this kind of masculinity is not just something that is “not inconsistent” with ministry. It is essential to it. Teaching this to our sons is a difficulty because this might have to be done for our boys without any living examples to point to. Thank God for biographies, and a Christian education in which such biographies can be read and studied. And thank God for church history—important figures such as Boniface and Knox and Athanasius do provide a counterweight to the modern prevailing assumptions.
The idea of the clergyman has evolved—in literature, in public perceptions, and sadly to a certain marked extent in reality—into a third sex. Like the Rev. Mr. Kinosling in the Penrod stories, or Dimmesdale in The Scarlet Letter, or David the useless psalm-singer in The Last of the Mohicans, we have become accustomed to the idea of minister as wuss. If a boy excels in football, or rock climbing, or in defending his little sister, how many of the church ladies will ask him if he has ever considered the ministry? If he excels at being bookish, pious, and retiring, how many will ask him about it. “Such a godly boy,” they will say, trying not to pinch his rosy, red cheeks. The problem is that our idea of godliness has gotten skewed, and feminine godliness is the only kind that we recognize anymore. If a boy wants to be godly, the common assumption is that he has to fit into that. If he doesn’t want to, the problem is assumed to be in him instead of being in the definition.
In his fine book, The Church Impotent, Leon Podles traces the problem to the individualization of piety that started with Bernard of Clairveaux. The Church is feminine, described in Scripture as the bride of Christ, and so long as this is understood corporately, we have no troubles. But when it began to be assumed that each individual Christian should comport himself in the same way the entire Church does, this created problems for half of all Christians—those who were male. Either cultivating this feminine demeanor was something they could do, which was a serious problem, or it was something they couldn’t do, which had the effect of discouraging men from serving God in the Church. If you want to be masculine, then take it outside.
Ann Douglas describes the later stages of this process in our nation in her startling book The Feminization of American Culture. In effect, the definition of what constitutes piety has been taken over by women. Men come to church, reluctantly, or they quit coming entirely. Boys are made to feel as though they have to choose between Christ and being masculine. This is a false dilemma, and parents should counter it every chance they get.
So this means that parents who want to bring up future pastors, the kind who will be worthwhile men in the Church, need to bring up their sons in a particular kind of way. They should seek to raise up scholar/athletes, and, more to the point, they should strive to make that scholar/linebackers. And they should do this with all the stated and unstated assumptions in the home being that this is what would be necessary if God were to call their son to the ministry. It is important to note here that parents are almost never in a position to bring up sons for the ministry—God is the one who calls a man. But parents can bring up sons who would be a masculine asset for the Church if God were to call them.
But it is important to keep the mind and body together. The false alternative of choosing between Christ and masculinity has sometimes morphed into a related false alternative, that of choosing between brains and brawn. Ministers should be students, and we should long for the kind of scholarship on fire that the Church has seen in previous eras. In the early days of the Reformation, studying Greek was a politically subversive act, the kind of thing that could get you in trouble with the king.
What we need to recover is a particular mentality—one that is still seen in certain parts of our modern world, but which is no longer common in the Church. For example, if a young boy wants to pursue the testosterone-charged vocation of being a fighter pilot, will he have to keep his grades up? Will he be a student? Of course. And would anyone think that his time in the library was going to disqualify him from this vocation? Certainly not, because we would also expect to find him on the athletic field early in the morning, as well as reading books late at night. His mind and his body are friends with each other.
The apostle Paul communicates this to us in his metaphors. Being a minister, being a man of God, is more like being a champion athlete than it is like being a mousy librarian in a basement somewhere. It is more like being a warrior returning from battle than it is like a vicar serving tea for the ladies auxiliary. Above everything else, that is what we need to teach our sons. If we do, if God calls them, they will be ready.
Douglas Wilson has written extensively on marriage and family matters. Additionally, he is the general editor of the Omnibus curriculum, a great books curriculum published by Veritas Press.
Book List Journal
If you have been reading epistula over the last few months, you probably know that Marlin and I have been getting ready for our youngest son to go to college. This has been with mixed emotions. On one hand we are very excited that our children our doing what God has called them to do and growing into men who will move forward in taking back culture for the Kingdom. On the other hand, it seems like just yesterday that we were getting up in the night more times than I care to recall with four children born inside five years. As we said goodbye to our youngest son and drove away, I will admit it was hard to hold back the tears. As excited as I am for our sons, it is bitter sweet as we really have enjoyed our children. This was the first time in twenty years that I have not been writing lesson plans for the year. It just doesn’t seem like August without that.
On this same trip we were discussing how many books they had read over the last ten years. One of them was trying to list as many as he could remember, and I was helping to fill in the best I could. It occurred to me that it would have been a good idea to have kept a journal to record all the books each of them had read. I asked our graphic designer, Ned Bustard if he would put together a journal that you could use to record books that your children have read (and not make the same mistake we did). Click here to open the journal instructions.
This is an exciting time of year as you prepare for the new school year. I know that at times it may be overwhelming, but enjoy it. I had always heard people say, “It will be gone before you know it.” They were right.
May the Lord richly bless your school year as you to strive to educate your children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.
Free Book: Future Men
How do we build our sons to be tough but not arrogant? Mannered but not soft? Imaginative but not lazy? Bold but not hollow? Future Men (item #110180) is the Christian guide to raising strong, virtuous sons, contrary to the effeminacy and sentimentalism of contempory culture. This book is FREE for the asking when you make a purchase in September of $200 or more. Or half-price ($7.50) with a September order of $75 or more.
Q. When I look at the Veritas Press history and Bible teachers manuals I never know which projects to do or if I should do all of them (which seems overwhelming). Please offer some help.
A. Sure. First, doing all the projects is not expected or intended. To give you choices we’ve included far more than can or should be done. If you are using the lesson plans, these were written to eliminate your need to make those kind of decisions. They spell it all out for you. If you don’t want to go that direction, I would make sure that you chose a variety of projects over the year. Make sure that you don’t always pick the writing projects, because that requires less of your time. Pick some hands-on projects, some writing, and some readings. If you plan all this at the beginning of the year then you can make sure that you get a variety.
Q. I am interested in doing Omnibus, but I don’t believe my child will be able to do all the reading. What do you suggest?
A. No problem. We have been doing Omnibus for quite a few years now and find that most children are capable of doing the reading, but sometimes it takes a little bit of time to get up to speed. Or you may decide that you just don’t want to do all the reading. When looking at what to cut, don’t just assume that the secondary books are less important; this is not true. Try to find a balance between those things that are historical in nature, those that are literary and those that are theological. There are two other things we would recommend. One is to consider listening to some of the books on tape. This is a great thing to do as a family or even in the car. You might also consider reading only portions of some books. Most of all enjoy this time reading the great classics of Western civilization.
Please submit any questions you’d like answered here to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Last Chance to Enter Photo Contest
There’s not much time left to enter our Summer Photo Contest. Send your summer photo of a favorite place, your family, or whatever caught your eye this summer to be entered in the Summer Photo Contest. Attach your photo in an e-mail sent to email@example.com. Entry must be received by 5 PM EDT on September 14, 2009. Three winners will be announced and Veritas Press gift certificates await the winners.
New From Shurley English
For those using Shurley English two new exciting products have just been released! A Jingle Time Music Pack that comes in two levels. This is a CD with the chants including sheet music with guitar tabs. Fun Coloring Books that include the jingles for levels K through 3. (The level K is a precursor to Shurley 1.) We thought you might want to have these for your new year.
Old Testament Ancient Egypt Self-Paced Course
Check out the talking sphinx in the center of our web page (www.veritaspress.com) and follow his lead to more detail and sample lessons for our new self-paced course for Old Testament and Ancient Egypt. It's a fun way to learn all 32 events from that ancient era of history in the comfort of your home and on your schedule. The course is available this month. Click here to learn more. More courses are in the works, too.
New College Franklin Prospective Student/Parent Weekend & King’s Meadow Study Center 5th Annual Film & Worldview Conference
You are invited to visit the college, attend classes, meet students and faculty, hear more about the philosophy and purpose of the college, as well as enjoy the King’s Meadow Study Center Fifth Annual Film and Worldview conference. All will happen October 30-31, 2009 in beautiful downtown Franklin, Tennessee. More information can be gleaned from www.kingsmeadow.com or contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org or (615) 594-8818.
Introducing the Phaedrus Latin Composition Contest
Few areas of study are as essential as Latin in classical Christian education. New Saint Andrews College is sponsoring a Latin competition and invites Latin teachers in day‐school, home‐school and tutorial settings to team up with the College’s Department of Classical Languages to promote the study of Latin. The contest is designed for Latin teachers to incorporate into their lesson plans and allows willing teachers to take part in the nationwide judging. Student entries will be due March 1, 2010. There is no charge to participate. Students must be 15 to 18 years old and may submit only one entry. A top prize of $500 will be awarded for first place. Other cash prizes will be given to the second‐ and third‐place winners, along with honorable mention recognition for other deserving entries. Participating students will submit a 100‐ to 200‐word original fable in Latin, along with the English translation. They will be graded on the student’s ability to accurately use Latin vocabulary and forms of speech, the student’s creativity in subject matter, and writing style. For more information about the Phaedrus Latin Composition Contest, go to the web site (www.phaedruslatincontest.org) or contact Lindsey Tollefson at New Saint Andrews College, (208) 882‐1566 or email@example.com.
Veritas Press Scholars Academy Diploma Program
Are you looking for your child to go to college? Do you desire accountability and assistance in knowing that each year your students are accomplishing what they need to? We now offer yearly certification services culminating in a high school diploma. There are four different diploma levels, each addressing the varying levels of a student’s abilities and circumstances. Year-by-year certification services ensure you are on track for your objectives, meeting an outside standard, and, in many cases, satisfying state requirements. We’ve even made provision for qualifying courses completed elsewhere or using other curricula. For more information, click here.
Future Job Opening with Veritas Press Scholars Academy
Online Teachers—With the rapid growth of our online courses we continue to seek more teachers for the future. Experienced teachers can work from home, the beach, or anywhere high-speed internet is available. Send résumé to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Visit us on the web at VeritasPress.com or call us at 1-800-922-5082.
Browse the Veritas Press virtual catalog online!