How a Shopping Cart Can Change a Boy

I was maybe 10 when my dad took us to the game. It was the Houston Astros baseball in the Astrodome. I don’t remember who we were playing or how it turned out but I do have one crystal clear memory. At the beginning of the game as the National Anthem began my brother, 2 years older, and I both stayed sitting. As soon as it was over my dad sat down, looked us in the eyes and with the focus of a spitting cobra and said, “If you boys ever sit through the National Anthem again I will rip your arm off and beat you with the bloody end of it. Are we clear.” Fear was all I felt at that moment. When my dad said something in that tone it was not funny. “Yes sir.”

There are certain things we can teach our boys and like New Year’s resolutions they need to be obtainable. For me I learned so much by watching and wanting to be like the men around me at different times in my life. Even if just for a short period of time.

In KOZ it is a powerful thing to share our personal testimonies and stories with the boys. Age appropriate of course. Our stories ring true in a different way than a teacher reading from a book, talking “at” them. The heart link for them is that you did it, learned it. They retain the lessons far better and even remind you of your stories over and over.

That all being said, we need simple lessons. Life lessons that create character traits that speak at a much deeper level. Here are three simple ideas for you to consider. These are not just for a Saturday KOZ meeting but every day. Maybe you do them already, maybe they can be a personal challenge. Remember, it is often the simple things.

Shopping Carts. Leaders never leave the shopping cart in the parking lot, they put it away, even if it is a hassle. Yes, this irritates me to no end. It is a simple way to teach discipline and respect. Add in “Take a cart from outside in the lot as you walk in and use that one.” They may not go shopping with mom all the time but I know they go to Walmart plenty and this is a great manhood training step. They learn that the little hassles and inconveniences are often part of doing the right thing.

Litter. I have had this thing about littering for years. One of my kids once threw some trash out the widow of the truck on the highway. I pulled over right then and had them pick up trash for 30 minutes as I sat in the truck. That was the end of that. I also have a strict “No trash in the campfire” policy. Trash should be handled with care. If we are on the ranch, in the hills, hiking a mountain I never walk past a piece of trash. I have had boys walk back after they walked over it. “Don’t mess with Texas” or any other place with trash. Again it is a training tool.

The Door. Always open the door for a woman. Their mom, another lady going into Walmart or church. If you are going somewhere with a boy watch how he handles this. Do they rush to get in front a lady and her kids to get in the door? Do they even think about others around them? I have trained myself to, no matter what, the car door for my wife, daughter, other ladies that are travelling with me. I pride myself here even when it is totally inconvenient. To the world it may make no sense with automatic door locks and such. Even better. The boys learn manors, to notice others around them, to be kind and courteous. One day this level of chivalry will pay off for them when they go to court a young lady for marriage.

Titus 3:1-2, Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work, to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people.

 These lessons will not be available for you every month in your KOZ but they will come up. If you are a dad, here ya go. For all of us men it is not by what we say but what the boys see. If we are doing these things in our lives they will be moved to do them. It will become a thread in your remnant legacy.

My dad was so right that day at the ballpark. Dad was a Marine. Our country and flag warrant the utmost respect. I really do think, had I sat during the Anthem again, I would today be a one armed dude with “Booyah” written in scars across my body from the bloody end of my other arm. And I would have deserved it.

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