Rite of passage parenting: The right man for the job
If you happen to travel somewhere near the town of Buckner, Mo., you might see a sign that advertises Six Mile Baptist Church. I say, “might” because I’m not sure the sign’s still standing.
For a long time, our little country church wanted to put up a sign on the main highway announcing that turning down this road would lead you to a Bible-believing, Jesus-following church. The sign gave the service times and the pastor’s name. Above that, it said in big letters, “Six Mile Baptist Church.”
Yes, it’s an odd name for a church, but it made sense because the church was six miles outside of Fort Osage on the Missouri River. Fort Osage was the second outpost built after the Louisiana Purchase. For a young boy, nothing was cooler than growing up with an old fort almost in your backyard.
One Saturday, all the men brought their tools and got together to erect the sign. They used their post hole diggers to make two deep openings in the hardened earth. During the process, a problem arose. They had failed to bring along a tape measure to determine the depth of the hole, which had to be four feet deep. The men didn’t want to lift up the heavy wooden sign and lower it into the ground only to have to pull it out again.
When I heard them mention “four feet,” my heart skipped a beat. That was my exact height!
Believe it or not, I was always a thin child. As I thought about the situation, I realized the men could lower me into the hole to help them know whether or not they had the right depth.
That day, I felt like little David in the David and Goliath story. As the men were discussing what to do, I volunteered myself as the measuring stick, and they agreed to use me. When they thought they were getting close to the right depth, they yelled my name. I came running, and they lowered me into the hole while I held my hands straight up. If my head stuck out, they knew they had to dig deeper. When the hole got deep enough that the top of my head was level with the ground, their mission was accomplished.
When the men finished putting up the sign, they all stood in a group to admire their work. If you’d looked closely, you would have seen a little “four-foot” standing alongside them.
Something deep inside every little boy longs for the day when the men ask him to join their work. That day, I became part of the men’s club. For years afterward when we drove past that sign, something inside me swelled because I had a part in putting it up. The sign was the tangible evidence of my accomplishment.
Not long after that, our church decided to build an educational facility to house Sunday School classrooms and a new nursery. Every Saturday, I went with my dad to join the men in their building project. Most of the time, my job was sweeping the floors, picking up debris and hauling it to the dumpster. But the dirtier I got, the better I felt. I heard the men talking among themselves about what a good worker I was, and again, my heart swelled with pride. The men even taught me how to run electrical wires (to this day, I love to wire things), put up studs and pour concrete. I couldn’t wait until Saturday came so I could join the men.
One of the problems I see with today’s generation of boys is that they never get invited into the world of men’s work. And one of the first things we read about Jesus is that He was invited into His Father’s work. After Mary and Joseph spent three days looking, they found Him in the temple. When they questioned Him about what He was doing, Jesus replied, “‘Why did you seek Me? Did you not know that I must be about My Father’s business?’”( Luke 2:49, NKJV).
From that time forward, Jesus told others He was about His Father’s business. In the same way, a boy wants his earthly father to invite him into his business, we should be thrilled to know God the Father wants us to join Him in His work. When we work with Him, we can accomplish great things—even when they look like nothing more than a hole in the ground.
To this day, I wonder what people who were driving down the road that day thought when they looked over and saw a group of men staring at two little arms sticking out of the ground.
Walker Moore is president of Awe Star Ministries in Tulsa, P.O. Box 470265, Tulsa 74147, email, [email protected] Phone 800/AWESTAR (293-7827).