A man’s success in ministering to a boy depends in large measure on the relationship that he develops with him. But how does one build this contact into a close friendship? Here are some tips on how to become a real companion to your son or another boy:
Spend time with him alone, doing things together.
When a boy and a man are alone and doing things together, they can begin to communicate, to understand each other. Regardless of the topic of conversation or the nature of the activity, you will notice things about him and vice versa that help both to see more deeply into each other’s lives. This will occur regardless of what you are doing together and whether or not you talk. Every contact does not need to be a time for intensive counseling. This will come slowly in most cases. Place your confidence in the Holy Spirit that every moment you are spending with the boy is helping to bring you closer together. God is at work.
Introduce him to your work.
If at all possible, invite him to visit you at your job. Many boys have never had direct contact with an adult’s place of employment. This experience will deepen his understanding and appreciation of you as a man and may open up new avenues of common interest. Similar benefits can be derived if you can see the boy in conjunction with some school event, without embarrassing him, of course. This could work out quite well if the boy participates in interscholastic sports or similar activities.
Listen to him.
Make it a priority to give your attention to what the boy is saying in conversation. Whether or not it is important to you, it is important to him. By paying attention to what he is saying, you show the boy that you think he is important. Just simple things like nodding your head and looking him in the eyes will help assure the boy you are listening.
Talk to him about things he likes to talk about.
Starting where the boy is at, is the only way you can bring him to where you think he should be. Opportunities to talk about spiritual things usually will come eventually. Depend on the Lord to develop the opportunity. Sports, cars, school, pets, music or natural surroundings are good places to start.
Share your joys and difficulties.
You’d like the boy tell you about his problems. Do you set the pace by telling him about yours? Adults have a harder time being open than boys, but make the effort. Only share things that are appropriate to him. Don’t be afraid to show him that you have problems. He won’t think less of you. In fact, it will probably convince him that you are a real person, affected by the temptations and confusion of the world in which you both live. And it will show him how you deal with problems as a Christian man. Balance this by telling the boy how God has helped or is helping you with the problem. Share with him the good things that are happening in your life, too.
Fulfill your commitments to him.
Adults often promise things to young people without following through. You may have a very good reason for not fulfilling your commitment, but the boy will only remember that you didn’t live up to your word. Make good on any promises you make to earn the trust that is necessary to any friendship. At the same time, be ready to accept how undependable many boys are. This isn’t a double standard; it’s realizing that you’re the adult and he is still growing up. Keep your promises and eventually, he will too.
Help him befriend others who can fill needs you cannot.
Help the boy meet other men boys who can do some things with and for him that you can’t do. Other men can serve as valuable examples and counselors and give him a broader perspective on Christian manhood. Christian men in a local church can work together, helping each other guide boys toward spiritual maturity. What is true of boys from Christian homes is true of others. Knowing a number of Christian men will help them grow.