Be Your Own Man

Be Your Own Man

Originally Posted by Mike Young August 2005

About 3,000 years ago Solomon cautioned his son by saying…My son, if sinners entice you, do not give in to them. If they say, “Come along with us; let’s lie in wait for someone’s blood, let’s waylay some harmless soul; … throw your lot in with us and we will share a common purse” – my son do not go along with them, do not set foot on their paths; for their feet rush into sin, they are swift to shed blood. Proverbs 1:10-16

Throughout the Proverbs, Solomon offers wisdom to his sons. Much of it focuses on not being dragged down by others. Solomon wanted to impress upon his sons the fact that many so-called friends want to be their partners in wrong doing. The fatherly advice to choose right over wrong and good over evil is presented numerous times in a variety of contexts. My dad continued this tradition…

About 30 years ago in Suffolk, VA, Thomas Young said to me,

“Son, be your own man. If you are with a group of guys who start smoking or drinking and doing other things you know you shouldn’t, you go in the other direction. Just because a group of your friends does something doesn’t mean you have to. Even if you are the only one who is willing, stand alone and do the right thing.”

And I did, but not always. Of course I made mistakes and failed from time to time. I still do. However, I can recall many specific times in my high school, college and adult years when I have remembered this wisdom Dad impressed upon me. There have been proud moments when I, sometimes alone, have spoken up for truth and right. There have also been disappointing times when I have shrunk back, melted into the crowd, and not said or done what I knew was right. Even in those disappointing times, I have recalled the teaching; I just wasn’t strong enough to follow it.

The message is powerful. Be your own man. Be willing to stand alone and make the right decision. I want my children to learn it as well, so…  

About three weeks ago in Chesterfield, VA, I said to my oldest son,

“Timothy, it was not wise to take glass jars into the woods and shoot them with slingshots. You guys run through here barefooted and no one wants to get cut. Son, just because your brother came up with the idea and your friends thought it was fun, doesn’t mean it’s OK. I want you to think about what you are doing and make good decisions. Remember what I have told you…Just because someone else says or does something doesn’t mean it’s right, you need to be willing to make up your own mind to stand up and say and do what’s right.

That’s a lot of pressure on a nine year-old. True, but when he’s under pressure to follow the crowd in the future, the consequences of blindly going along may be much more severe than the possibility of getting your foot cut on glass.

If he practices standing up now, he’ll know how it feels later. His legs will be strong.

As I seek to raise my sons and daughter, not just to be good kids, but to become solid adults, I will hopefully find many ways and a variety of contexts in which to impress upon them the message that the crowd isn’t always right. Sometimes you must courageously stand alone and do what you know is right, never forgetting that you are truly not alone, for God is always on the side of truth and right. Remember Paul’s words in Romans 8:31 “… If God if for us, who can be against us.” Let’s all impress this on our children.

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