Every boy needs a “do or die” moment to consider himself a man. His confidence depends upon it. This is one reason why rites of passages are so important.
Each one of these moments prepares a man for the next one, and then the next one, and the next one. Strength and experience increase.
It doesn’t have to be drastic. It doesn’t have to be literally life or death.
But there needs to be some risk. Some serious consequences for failure.
One of my first came when I was around twelve years old. I was playing a softball game with the other men at church. It was a casual game, but like all competition between men, it was taken seriously.
I don’t know why they put me on first base, the most common place the ball would be thrown. A few men expressed some doubts but I remained.
This only made me more determined to succeed. I would prove them wrong.
The moment came quickly.
A hit to second base, and my teammate, a tall man who could throw the ball like a bullet, scooped the ball up and threw it like a bullet.
A perfect throw right at my face.
- Try to catch it and miss. Get hurt.
- Try to catch it and succeed. Based on the speed of the ball, I would still get hurt.
- Retreat and play the rest of the game in right field, covered with shame.
I stuck out my arm, my glove in front of my face, my eyes peeking over the top.
And I caught it.
It stung my hand, but not as bad as I thought it would. A few people yelled out in surprise. I acted like it was no big deal and threw the ball to the pitcher.
My heart thumped so hard that I thought my rib cage would crack.
I lived off of that moment for weeks.
Give your sons these do-or-die moments. They might get hurt.
But when they succeed at one, it will be one of the best gifts they could ever receive.
And they will carry that gift with them for a long time.