The writings of Paul to Timothy reveal a wonderful picture of what a mentoring relationship looks like. Christianity was quickly spreading throughout the Middle East and beyond, and Timothy, a newer convert, was zealous and eager to follow after the calling of Christ on the heels of his disciplemaker. Paul, knowing the scriptures, made sure to lay the groundwork for Timothy’s success as a disciple of Christ by teaching him the gospel, and leading to Christ in word and deed. This included addressing his role as a man. He taught them the value of the word, and its work in a man’s life; “so that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work” (2 Tim. 3:17). He taught the importance of carefully choosing only those who were mature in Christ to serve in the ministry with him in the future (Eph. 4:13). Paul also went into detail in two different letters (1 Tim. 3:1-7 and Titus 1:5-10) on just what it means to be a man, laying out a long laundry list of characteristics one should ascribe to as a Christ-follower.
The same Word of God that gave direction to Paul, and compelled him to lead Timothy, beckons us today. This same Word sits in virtually every home in America. Across the room sits a boy who needs your lead.
Marking the Pathway to Manhood
The pathway to manhood in western culture today is largely marked by events occurring in two categories: 1. puberty, and 2. legal/social contract.
Puberty is one of the biggest shifts in a boy’s life as he changes physically and mentally. It is often awkward, confusing, and frustrating. These changes signify a certain maturation that is tied to God’s command to be fruitful and multiply, but because of our culture, we often fail to fill in the obvious gaps that arise when a boy doesn’t understand his new feelings or know how to use his maturing body in forms of physical enterprise and work.
Legal/social contracts include things like, riding a bike, getting a driver’s license, obtaining a voters registration card, graduating high school or college, or getting your first job. These are events that happen to both sexes and are therefore indistinguishable or unique to a boy. Therefore, they represent things that are expected because of cultural norms, with ties to the social ladder, and do not directly help a boy understand or live out manhood as defined by God.
Missing, are the markers, better known as ceremonies and rites of passages, found in many non-western cultures, which define manhood, set expectations, fortify prior training, and encourage healthy exercise of the man’s role. The result is, much like a fortress with a broken wall, manhood has fallen prey to ever increasing secular pressures which have redefined roles and wooed men into passivity, and timidity.
Sand to Stone provides opportunity for the remediation of biblical manhood through father and son training resources, community events, and celebrations of the pathway to manhood through ceremony. Our focus is first, on the role of the man under the headship of Christ. We recognize that every man must: put God first, commit wholeheartedly to his work, respect authority, maintain integrity, embrace empathy, defend and protect, act courageously, remain accountable, live for a transcendent cause, and embody humility. Our events and training resources stay true to these biblical principles. We recognize that learning to humbly and lovingly submit to our grace-filled and perfect God under the pacesetting leadership of a committed father will result in a more well-rounded, upstanding, and confident future man of God.
Most men today would admit they could be a better pacesetter for their son spiritually. They also admit they could be better at quality time spent, teaching important facts of life within the context of God’s standard. Men need resources and encouragement to help them faithfully lead their son along the pathway to maturity as a future man.
Whether you have 18, 10, 5, or 1 year(s) left with your son in your home, you have time to make a mark on his journey. You can impact how he views God and his role as a man before he steps out on his own. The fact is the father only has to be one step ahead in order to lead.
We believe the wilderness provides an excellent opportunity for personal growth. Wilderness means getting away from the normal routine of busy life, and into a setting where we are forced out of our comfort zone, and into the presence of creation and our Creator. Wilderness settings vary in location, but are designed to create an environment of challenge, reflection and fun.
Pathway to Manhood
The Bible provides very distinct principles of manhood. When we find our self-image in Christ, and understand the essence of His teaching, we possess the tools to live out our role as men in the most satisfying of ways. We all fathers the opportunity to engage their sons on this level. The goal is to create for them a clear sense of what it means to be a genuine man.
Over the course of up to 12 years, a son will encounter markers of manhood. These points during his life are established using special ceremonies, and fathers play a active and important role in each one. We believe it is of upmost importance for the fathers to lead their sons along the path to manhood, and mark their transitions in very memorable ways.
In addition to camp and adventure experiences, sons have the opportunity to engage in training packs led by the father and supplemented by Sand to Stone. The training is meant to build into the son the basic disciplines of the Christian life and to help them understand theology, obedience to the Word, and fulfillment of the Great Commission.
Founder’s Notes: In 1999, before I was married or had children, God gave me the vision of starting a Father-Son camping ministry. In 2014 this became a reality. In my opinion, it happened at just the right time, as our world struggles with its self image and ultimate source of truth. I am reminded daily as I step outside, that the creation around us shouts of God’s love for mankind. This however is easily missed because of the innumerable distractions associated with a busy life, and deceptions about who we are and how we are to live under the headship of Christ. Wilderness trips, allow all of us to refocus on what is true: Our role, our goal, and our Lord. – Eric