January 25, 2010

Blessing Boys

In the soon-to-be-published results of the annual survey of my blog readers, I received some wonderful compliments. It made me feel good. It's nice to be affirmed. I'm sure you like it too. For today's typical adolescent male . . . it can be a critical need.

Think about it. Where in your community can an adolescent male go and feel welcomed and connected to the people around him? A boy might be part of a church group, on a sports team, or something similar, but in my experience, these kinds of involvements are for the few, the lucky.

What is more often the case is that many adolescent boys feel invisible, surrounded by sources of negative attention, and live as outsiders in their own town. They wander the neighborhoods, empty lots, shopping malls, and parks looking for those few places where they can go to express their restless and physical energy without getting in trouble. For too many young males, the sense of being outside, disconnected, invisible, and irrelevant is enormously painful. As an adult male, there are a few simple actions you can take to ease this common form of boy pain without much effort on your part.

In the Man-Making book there are two steps prior to Blessing boys. I call them Seeing, and Acknowledging. Very simply put, when you are around boys, look at them and nod with a smile. Easy right. If you want to go the extra step from Seeing to Acknowledgment, simply say, "Hey guys." Or you could ramp it up by finding something interesting and positive about them and just say it . . . Hey dude that was really and awesome board maneuver... seems to me like you're defying gravity. Or, Dude, that pierced lip must have hurt when you had it done, you must be some kind of brave? ANYTHING positive you say, will be water in the desert for most young lads. Seeing and Acknowledging also happen to be easy and low-risk ways to step into intentional man-making. Try it and see what happens.

Blessing is the next step up, and goes beyond the positive comment in passing. It’s an intimate and positive statement about a young man’s value, potential, person, or power . . . and it’s designed to touch the receiver at his core. Dustin, a twenty something who contributed to the Man-Making book said, "On my graduation day, my school superintendent totally surprised me when he congratulated me. He said, 'Dustin, I hope we get more kids like you at our school. You are going to do great in life.' It was extremely uplifting and I will remember his comment for the rest of my life."

Blessing happens when an adult male catches a boy doing something especially well or identifies one of his positive attributes, skills, or tendencies. The man then names what he sees and adds a statement of value. In the process the boy is not only acknowledged, but is further elevated to a place of esteem. If you actually know the young man or he is part of your life in some way, your observation will have the weight of your history together hanging on it. The better you know the young man, the more you get him, the more potent your blessing will be.

One of the reasons blessings are so powerful is that they’re uncommon. So seldom are blessings offered that some of us, many years later, can remember special blessings we got from men in the past. For the same reason, it’s very possible that your blessing of a boy will be his first or will become the powerful memory that will stay with him a lifetime. Blessings provide so much transformational energy for such little effort it’s amazing they’re not a bigger part of all our lives.

Here is a video about an amazing teacher who has blessing down to a fine art. In the clip, notice the expressions on the kid's faces when they are complimented.. If you watch it to the end, you'll see how the ripple effect of goodness can make a huge difference in some lives.

Is there a young lad in your life you can bless today? This week? Will you?

If the clip doesn't show up, click here.


  1. Really enjoyed reading this Earl. I totally understand about giving a "blessing", and after reading this, I find that I usually always do this when approaching boys. I am a Youth Mentor "Big Brother" to two boys, and also a Dad to an adult son.
    Whenever I see boys, I always look and nod, and usually say "what's up" or "hey" or give a quick smile. I usually get them in return also. Like you said, it doesn't take much to do it, and it means a lot to boys to at least be "noticed."

    It took me over a year to finally decide to be a Big Brother. I don't know what held me back at first. It's something I really enjoy and have been doing for close to three years now.

  2. Gary L.11:01 AM

    That post moved me to tears, man. Thanks for that. As a result, I told my daughter(texted actually) what a beautiful woman she is, and my son is next on that list. I love it.


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