Providing a 'Rite of Passage' for Our Children
By Chris Carpenter
CBN.com Program Director
CBN.com -You may remember him as rival football coach Bobby Lee Duke in the movie Facing the Giants. Or perhaps you caught a glimpse of him in Fireproof. But most notably, Jim McBride is a devoted husband and father who wants nothing more than to see his children succeed in life as committed Christians.
Drawing from the coming of age process he went through with each of his children, this executive producer of the new movie, Courageous, has written a book, Rite of Passage: A Father's Blessing, that explains how we can equip our children to become young adults of purpose.
CBN.com Program Director Chris Carpenter recently sat down with McBride to discuss why the transition from childhood to adulthood is so critically important and how a parent’s blessing can chart a son or daughter’s course for the rest of their lives.
This is your first book. You have obviously been very busy in recent years due to your involvement in making the movies Courageous, Fireproof, and Facing the Giants. What inspired you to even take this on?
I’ve always been involved in teaching lot of men’s ministry and one-on-one discipleship. There’s a scene in the movie Courageous where you see a bunch of men sitting around a table, and they’re talking with one another, and one guy says, “When did you know you were a man?” And another guy says, “When I got my drivers license.” Another guy says, “When I was old enough to vote. Finally one guy says, “When my father told me I was.” I’ve seen so many men in small groups who say, “You know, I just don’t know if my Dad loves me or if he is appreciative or believes in what I’m doing as a career. So I wanted something different for my children for them to be able to leave home with wind at their sails, knowing that they had the love and blessing of their father. So that drew me to a season of prayer with my wife and I about, “How could we do something different that would set our children up for success, that they wouldn’t go out floundering, would go out strong from our home with the wind at their sails?”
Your book is called, “Rite of Passage”. Why a rite? It seems like a throwback to an earlier era in our civilization. Why is a rite of passage important?
As you look through history, there are rites of passages and other cultures and other faiths, you know Bar Mitzvah, Bat Mitzvah, and there’s always a season of the father calling out the man and the son and the woman and her daughter. So I didn’t see anything like that in the Christian culture. What do we do for our young boys and our daughters to make of that significant moment? In The Rite of Passage, one of the things we do is surround them with a Board of Directors, a group of godly counsel. We set up a ceremony to remind them of the topics those people talk to them about, faith, hope, love, purity, integrity and family. It culminates with a prayer of blessing from their father or mother over their life.
I’m sure most people have heard the term “Rite of Passage” before but may not realize the significance of it. Could you break down this transition between childhood and adulthood?
As you’re working with your son or daughter along the way, teaching them the Word, you come to a point where it is practical to do this. My children were 16. Some people may have a son or daughter they don’t feel is mature enough for this until they’re 18. But it’s a one-day event where you work this practical example of bringing other people they respect that could be a board of directors around them, and you spend just about a half a day focused on teaching them the Word that culminates with a prayer blessing. Right before the prayer blessing, there’s a moment when everyone in the room will be standing except for them, making commitments to the child. And then you will say to your son, you know there’s a point in every young boy’s life when a boy sits down but a man stands up. And I’m calling out the man in you right now to stand up and to look these men back in the eye and make the commitment they’ve made to you, today, back to them. So it’s a moment that, when I see those people around the table in Courageous, there’s a scene when one of the guys asks a question and that final guy says, “It’s when my father told me I was,” I want my children to be able to look back like that guy, and when somebody says, “When did you become a man or woman?” they say, “Well let me tell you about that day and what my Dad did for me.”
What types of items or events should you include in your rite of passage ceremony? Are there any critical activities that you should include?
I talk about the topics, of faith, hope, love, purity, integrity, family, and you can add other topics to them, but I think it's critical that for each one of these you have one member of your Board of Directors talking to them on a topic as they give them some sort of a memorial stone, something that they can look back on, and remember that particular topic. The first thing we give them is the Bible, then we talk to them about integrity, and that you can't be a woman or a man of integrity without the Word of God. Then we ask them to take notes on the rest of the journey of Scriptures that are mentioned that day, and other notes from the journey. So I think those memorial stones are important. The people that form that Board of Directors are important, and then the big gift from the father is a sword for the boys and a crown for the daughter. I think one of the neat things that we did, my wife gave our girls, a ruby necklace, a symbol for her to remember these women who are praying for her, and holding her up, and that a woman of value is greater than rubies.
You have mentioned the Board of Directors several times. Who are they and what is their role?
These people could be your child’s head football coach, the youth pastor, an uncle who is very close. You should always choose a grandfather or grandmother. That's a spot where even if the grandparent is not where he or she needs to be spiritually, I would still have them involved. I challenge the grandparents to talk about two or three generations back. Talk about your family, and talk about the men and women, and the character, and the integrity examples, that you’ve observed in them. So I think it's a great way to involve someone there whose family member, grandfather, grandmother, even if they are not a Christian.
But everyone else in the ceremony needs to be a Christian, and it needs to be someone close in their life. One of the things that I saw as fruit after the ceremonies, was walking up on one of the Board of Directors, and having them tell me that my son or daughter called them, and asked them to pray about something, ask them for guidance on something.
Is there a right or a wrong age to do this with your son or daughter?
The earlier the better. At 16, if you feel like your child has arrived maturity wise, because I think you do want to set them up as they move forward into their adult life with confidence in knowing they have your blessing, and that you're their advocate. So I think the earlier the better, but it's never too late.
Is a rite of passage Scripturally based?
There are countless stories throughout the Bible. For example, there is Moses, blessing Joshua before the people. Scripture says that the Spirit of the Lord was already on Joshua, but Moses called the assembly and laid hands on him in front of the people, and blessed him. In a lot of ways, Joshua was like a son to Moses as he guided him. You see Abraham blessing his children before he passes away. So, blessing is throughout the Bible, and you see father's blessing the children. Specifically you see the Lord Jesus Christ at his baptism, when the heavens parted, and the Lord said, “This is my son in whom I am well pleased.” You see them walk forward for the next three years in confidence.
As we have been discussing this topic I can’t help but think of the term “engagement”. However, some teenagers might think “meddlesome” is a better way to describe a rite of passage. Is there any advice you can give to prevent your kids from thinking you are just meddling in their lives?
You have to be vulnerable as a parent. Kids know, one of the buzzwords is being real, and they know what the motives are and why you're engaging, and if they see your heart, and now that you're engaging because of your love for them and your desire to be there to support them, not just to control them, but to show love and to guide them into the future. I think that's the key to you having your child's heart.
What are your hopes for this book? What are you hoping will be achieved through it?
I think the average guy is out there saying, “Yeah, I'd like to do something special with my son or daughter,” and I think most of them want their child to have a successful life, and desire those things, but they don't know how to get there. So I'm hoping that this book will just be a simple, practical tool that they'll look at and they'll say, “You know, I can do that.” They'll take it, and adapt it to their family, and to what works for them, and do this. I think it could break down a wall, because there's so many in the generation before us who telling their kids they loved them was just something that didn't come naturally. I hope we will knock down a wall the enemy has built up between parents and children, and that parents will take this practical example and do something with it.
To purchase Rite of Passage: A Father's Blessing
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