Hunting season is upon us and thanks to a gracious member of my former church, my boys and I have a Lifetime Mississippi Hunting License which we will use over Thanksgiving break! I take raising my children seriously and because of that everything I do must in some way lead my children to see and hear the gospel, hunting is no exception. I often think about two verses in the book of Joshua that constantly challenge me to lead my children to ask the right questions:
“that this may be a sign among you. When your children ask in time to come, ‘What do those stones mean to you?’ then you shall tell them that the waters of the Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord. When it passed over the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. So these stones shall be to the people of Israel a memorial forever.” (Joshua 4:6–7, ESV)
“And he said to the people of Israel, “When your children ask their fathers in times to come, ‘What do these stones mean?’ then you shall let your children know, ‘Israel passed over this Jordan on dry ground.” (Joshua 4:21–22, ESV)
The father’s in Israel were to lead their children to ask questions about what God had done and who He was. The role is no different thousands of years later, fathers are to lead their children to ask the right questions so they can proclaim the great name and glory of God.
Just in case some of you men print this off and tell your wife, “the pastor said I need to hunt more”. I am gonna give you 3 ground rules before I share “10 Things A Dad Can Teach His Son While Hunting”.
1. Hunting never comes before family. As the head and leader of your home, you now realize hunting is not a priority, your family is. When hunting comes before your family, it certainly comes before your God, and therefore it is an idol….hunting can’t be an idol. If you need help here, just ask your wife.
2. Hunting should always be fun for your son! Often times Dads forget, children are children. They are gonna be loud, they are gonna get whiney, and they are gonna mess up. Getting mad, angry, and fussing at your son will be a sure way to make your son hate hunting with his Dad. Be patient, positive, and productive; see the big picture.
3. Be Safe and Be Legal! If you don’t know the law learn it. http://home.mdwfp.com/License/info.aspx?id=13
10 Things A Dad Can Teach His Son While Hunting:
As I was hunting the other day, and absolutely nothing was moving, I thought about how much I have been able to teach Isaac through our hunting time together. I realized very quickly I needed to come home and put these in writing to encourage other Dads. I am often amazed at how we compartmentalize our Christianity here in America and especially the South. We talk God on Sunday, Church functions, or at a funeral; but I hardly ever find Dads who use life to talk about God…the bible is clear on how we should teach our children:
““Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. ” (Deuteronomy 6:4–7, ESV)
Essentially you are to talk about the LORD all the time. Just think about how much time we waste when we don’t constantly engage our sons in spiritual conversation. Here are 10 things you can teach your son while hunting.
1. God. This is huge and you have SO much material when you are outside and hunting. We don’t use creation near enough to point our sons to God. Teach your sons God made everything. Teach him how He made it (He spoke it into existence out of nothing, Gen 1-2). Amaze your son with the creativity and power of God through creation. “For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. ” (Romans 1:20, ESV). Psalms 8, 19, and 139 are great texts on creation, use them!
2. Sin. I know you are saying, how can you get “sin” out of hunting and the outdoors? Here is an illustration, just a few day’s ago Isaac and I are riding the four wheeler to hang a deer stand. He gets hit with a sticker bush and gets several stickers in his arm. After a few minutes he ask’s me, “Dad, why did God make stickers?” As I was laughing he answered his own question, “Because Adam and Eve sinned and God gave them thorns.” And by the way he is right, we have stickers because of sin…“thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you; and you shall eat the plants of the field. ” (Genesis 3:18, ESV). You get my point, the consequences of sin are easy to find. Showing your son sin, opens the door to explaining the Gospel!
3. Discpleship. Have you ever thought about the fact discipling happens before and after conversion. To be a disciple means you are following in the footsteps of someone in order to be like them. Dads disciple your son to Jesus! If your son is not born again, the greatest gospel testimony you can give him is through your life. In fact you are the physical representation of Jesus (if you are born again) God intends your son to see! Teach your son to follow in your footsteps as you are a disciple of Jesus. Pray God would graciously save him and use your example to open his heart to the Gospel. Think about this as you spend time hunting, savor the opportunity to disciple your son to Jesus! I am reminded of this every time we are walking through the woods and I turn around and say, “come on Isaac follow me“. A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone when he is fully trained will be like his teacher. ” (Luke 6:40, ESV)
4. Listening. Man oh man…..where do I begin. We live in a culture saturated with communication and information, yet it seems like the art of listening is DEAD. Christian Dads must teach their sons the discipline of listening. This will be critical as they develop spiritual disciplines as they grow older. As you teach your son about safety and how to hunt they will have to listen, be patient and help them learn this. What a great opportunity to use the environment of hunting to teach your son what it means to listen, not just for animals or to Dad, but to others and for God. “And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” Then I said, “Here am I! Send me.” ” (Isaiah 6:8, ESV)
5. Purpose. What better way to teach your son they were created for a purpose, “to glorify God and enjoy Him forever” than through His glorious creation. Watching the sun set or the sun rise, seeing a deer, duck, or turkey, observing the beauty of fall or snow, looking at a full moon on the way home…God created the earth and all it contains for His Glory! God’s word tells that He made Adam and Eve after His own image, we are special and created for a purpose, to glorify God! This begins by repenting of our sin and receiving Jesus as our LORD. “I give thanks to you, O Lord my God, with my whole heart, and I will glorify your name forever. ” (Psalm 86:12, ESV); “everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made.” ” (Isaiah 43:7, ESV); “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. ” (1 Corinthians 10:31, ESV)
6. Reading. I know that this only applies as your son is able to read, but hunting is a great opportunity to model and teach your son about reading. Research tells us fewer and fewer people read anymore, the number of boys is incredibly low. We live in an internet based society where you can find what you want without having to read the entire book. This has killed our culture and our young men. I do some of my best reading while hunting. Dads use hunting to teach your son to read. If your son is old enough pick a book or two that you want to read during hunting season and talk about it. Read Christian biographies, Christian Adventure, Spiritual Growth books or the Bible. I usually read at least 3 books during hunting season, I can’t wait until Isaac and I take up the challenge together. “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. ” (Romans 12:1–2, ESV)
7. Role. Taking your son hunting is a right of passage and an opportunity to model biblical manhood. Has there ever been a day where we need more men who model biblical manhood and are the Christ-like leaders of their home, than today? We have a new age range called “perpetual adolesence”, boys never grow up into young men. We have boys who grow up with an overly-bonded mother wound because they never broke away from mom and entered manhood. We have feminized young men, because they never did manly things with Dad and have been overly influenced by women their entire life. Hunting and the outdoors is not about making your son into a redneck brute, it is about teaching and modeling manhood characteristics and lifestyle. Hunting and the outdoors is a great platform to teach your son about what it means to be a “Christ-like Man”. “When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. ” (1 Corinthians 13:11, ESV)
8. Obedience. This is probably one of the greatest areas of conviction and growth I have experienced in hunting over the last 10 years. I was not raised to respect hunting laws or officials, which I regret. Therefore, learning and obeying laws was never important for me and I could find a way to justify just about anything. I remember vividly one of my first hunts with Isaac, and the Holy Spirit was convicting me that I could not continue to “halfway” obey the hunting laws. Partial obedience is “disobedience”. I knew I would never have a leg to stand on when teaching Isaac about obedience and following God, if I could not obey and follow the law. I also knew my disobedience was sin, and repented. You can teach your son so much about God, His standard, and HIs Son Jesus; through modeling, following, and teaching your son the law. “And Samuel said, “Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to listen than the fat of rams.” (1 Samuel 15:22, ESV); “So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith. ” (Galatians 3:24, ESV)
9. Character. “Character is doing the right thing even when no one is looking“. Hunting and the outdoors gives Dads more ammunition than you could shoot through a machine gun for developing character. I could write page after page about the conversations Isaac and I have had about honor, integrity, and character while we have been hunting. From what we hunt, to when we hunt, to how we hunt; the opportunities are endless from my sons questions to teach him about character. Dads don’t miss this opportunity, and just in case you need a reminder, ”you won’t teach your son something you are not living“. “For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to give strong support to those whose heart is blameless toward him… ” (2 Chronicles 16:9, ESV); “The wicked flee when no one pursues, but the righteous are bold as a lion. ” (Proverbs 28:1, ESV)
10. Gospel. Last but not least you have time to sink deep roots into your son through hunting and the outdoors. Nothing spells love like “TIME”. Spending time enjoying God’s creation and teaching your son about God, sin, and His son Jesus is what I call “sharing the Gospel as you live life.” Certainly we need to be constantly verbally explaining and telling our kids about the good news of the Gospel, but have you ever thought about how much we “tell” our children? Have you ever thought for a moment you were raised being “told” your whole life. Go back to my first two verses in Joshua, God told the people, “When your children ask, then tell them….” Dads, hunting and the outdoors is a great environment to lead our sons to ask the right questions. May we lead them to ask about the “good news” of Jesus. “Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. This man came to Jesus by night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God, for no one can do these signs that you do unless God is with him.” Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Nicodemus said to him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” ” (John 3:1–8, ESV