Tuesday, February 14, 2006

What he said ... what I thought about

Some of the points in my pastor's message this past Sunday brought to my mind a fascinating story that I heard when I was in South Africa on a mission trip in 1999. I found a very concise summary of the situation on the Northern Youth Ministries web site (www.nymministries.org).

Recently the National Fatherhood Initiative released a television public service announcement recounting the true story of the consequences that ensued when a group of young male elephants was transported from one wild game preserve in Africa to another without also transporting the older, “bull” elephants with them.

Without the presence of older male elephants, this group of juvenile elephants began to do something that elephants just don’t do in the wild. They began marauding in bands, wantonly killing other animals. This pack of “wilding” juvenile elephants especially liked to harass white rhinos, chasing them over great distances, throwing sticks at them and finally stomping them to death. It was only after a group of adult male elephants were transported into the game preserve that this delinquent and violent behaviour stopped.

How did this happen? Did the older bull elephants bring the younger male elephants together to express their feelings? No! They started to enforce the rules. In no uncertain terms, the older males began to discipline the younger elephants. Quickly the younger male elephants fell back into line. There hasn’t been a report of a single murderous elephant since.

… Little boys, like juvenile elephants, need the presence of adult males around them who monitor their behaviour and enforce the rules. And in doing so, we also have to give them opportunities to express their maleness and desire for meaning in ways that don’t involve worshiping [negative role models] … Boys will be boys. Whether or not they will grow up to be well-socialized and decent men is up to us.

Thank God for church organizations like Royal Ambassadors, and for morally upright organizations like the Boy Scouts of America for their continued commitment to shaping the lives of young men as they navigate the ever more treacherous waters of the society around us. Pray for these organizations and others like them. Pray for boys you know and the men who seek to guide them. Men, invest yourself in the lives of boys and ask God to inspire others to fill the empty spaces in the lives of boys with no significant male role models in their circle. Their future is at stake. That’s enough to think about for now …


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