Sending the kids off to college has me remembering the things I’ve written to them over the years. I’m sharing a few of those posts this week–the advice seems as pertinent now as ever. I hope you don’t mind some Daddy musings…
Seussical, the show my family was part of one summer, has already produced some pithy paternal parental ponderings that I have passed to my progeny to preserve for posterity.
But wait…there’s more. This one’s for my son.
One of the scariest jobs in Fatherdom is raising children to be emotionally stable grownups. So I, who was raised in a house full of women, need to somehow steer my way through the dense fog of estrogen to teach my boy how to be a man. And not just any man, but a man of God.
Good luck, Kid.
In my efforts, I am always on the lookout for good role models for you…and me, for that matter. It’s not as easy as you may think. So many of the people our society worships are psychoemotional wrecks. They confuse cruelty for strength. They mistake compassion for weakness. They run from truth in the name of tolerance.
Of course, Jesus is our perfect role model—live your life in reflection of him, and you will make me proud indeed. But perfection is hard to live up to, and it sometimes helps to have an additional role model who reflects Christ and yet is a little more…ordinary.
I have chosen for you an elephant.
Don’t give me that look.
I have been immersed in this story for months now, and I can’t get away from the message that Horton is, in many ways, the kind of man I want my son to be.
In spite of the whole non-human thing.
A person’s a person, no matter how small. This is Horton’s mantra throughout the show. It’s the reason he gives for protecting the Who’s. There are a couple of things to notice here. First, Horton cares about the little guy. He shares this trait with our Lord, but not with the world. Son, the world will tell you that it’s important to make the right connections, to buddy up to those who will help you get ahead. Take a wander through the gospels and you will find that Jesus did not buy into that philosophy. Neither does Horton. Horton is willing and eager to protect the weak, even when there is no likelihood that they can pay him back or offer anything the world would call valuable. Worth noting—Horton commits to saving Who’s before he finds a kindred spirit in Jojo. That friendship is a blessing he never could have anticipated.
Second, Horton is willing to look beyond outward appearances. The Who planet did not look like an entire people group on the brink of obliteration. It looked like a speck of dust. Horton had to be willing to look beyond the surface. He had to be willing to see the possibilities of the situation. Son, anyone can see what is. I want you to be a man who sees what is possible.
Horton also looked beyond the surface in his friendship with Gertrude. Notice that Horton was not interested in Gertrude’s looks. In fact, he never even noticed them, to her intense frustration. What he noticed—finally—was her character. She was as fierce in her battle to save Horton as he was in protecting the Who’s planet and Mayzie’s egg.
Son, beautiful women are delightful. God granted me a lady of extraordinary beauty and grace to share my life with, and I say Hooray.
But beauty will not stand beside you when your dreams crash.
Beauty will not forgive you when your foolish sin causes her great pain.
Beauty will not see beyond the man you are to the man God has called you to be.
That takes a Godly heart. Find such a woman—as your old man did—and hold tightly to her. And you will find, if you have the wisdom I pray you do, that Godly character and a sweet spirit will become far more beautiful in your eyes than perky plumage.
Biggest blame fool in the jungle of Nool. To everyone around him—except Gertrude—Horton looked like an absolute idiot. It’s hard to blame the others. I mean, a guy sitting on an egg in a tree talking to people who aren’t there? If I saw that guy downtown, I’d cross on the other side of the street, too. Horton didn’t let people’s assessment of him get in the way. He knew his mission, and he followed it.
If you do a Bible study on the word “fool,” you will find that there are two basic kinds of men it is used to describe. The first is the man who is so sold out to God’s purpose in his life that he doesn’t care what the World says. The second is the man who is so sold out to the World’s purpose for his life that he doesn’t care what God says. The first is a fool in the eyes of the World; the second is a fool in the eyes of the one who made the World.
Do us all a favor, Boyo. Be the first guy.
An elephant’s faithful, one hundred percent. Horton is utterly devoted to his friends and his egg. He endures all sorts of hardships and threats to fulfill the promises he has made.
Do that. Do whatever it takes to keep your promises. Son, there is no measure to the pain that unfaithful men have caused this world. It started with Adam’s unfaithfulness to God. It continues today in broken homes, broken lives, broken people. It is the fight you must fight, if you will be a man of God.
There are so many things that will call you away from your promises. The daily grind, the passing pleasure, the search for “more”–these will all come, and they will tempt you to break faith with those you love.
Don’t do it.
As Jesus is faithful to you, be faithful to those he has given you.
Oh, by the way. When the day comes that you meet the woman God has called you to love, there’s something you’d better know. She bears wounds from every man—father, brother, boyfriend—who has ever broken her trust. To you falls the job of helping God to heal those wounds and repair that heart, so that she can love Christ and you fully and without fear. It is the most difficult, most frustrating, most worthy job you will ever have.
Have fun with that.
It doesn’t have to be as complicated as it sounds. Though women are wonderfully mysterious, in this area their need is quite simple.
Be there. When the storms blow. When the sun shines. Whatever, whenever, just…stay. That will take you a long way towards being a man.
I guess my endless ramblings could be summed up in just four words.
Boys leave…Men stay.
So, yeah, Horton. A good one, worthy of emulation. He cares about the little guy. He does what is right, no matter what the world says. He stays. You could go a long way and not find a better role model. Be a man like that, and I will be as proud of you then as I am proud of you now.
And I am so proud of you now.