Blessed is the man
who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,
nor stands in the way of sinners,
nor sits in the seat of scoffers;
but his delight is in the law of the Lord,
and on his law he meditates day and night.
Psalm 1:1-3 (ESV)
Did I mention that I have four sons? Well, I do. And while that doesn’t make me an authority on raising boys, it does give me some “in the trenches” experience. It also causes me to tune in to young men on a journey.
My biggest take-away from raising and observing boys-becoming-men? Psalm 1:1.
They are shaped by the company they keep. Aren’t we all?
Awhile back, I offered six words of motherly wisdom to a young pop star on the threshold of manhood. Justin Bieber had been acting up and I was pretty sure he knew better. Unfortunately, the antics he was choosing to find himself were blown up all over media and he was beginning to look like just another spoiled young man about to self-destruct. I strongly suspected, judging from his behavior, that he had been walking “in the counsel of the wicked” and standing “in the way of sinners.”
Justin Bieber and our new pastor have a few things in common — mostly related to the company they keep.
Fifteen years ago, our pastor was sitting in a jail cell. Unlike Bieber, he hadn’t been raised by a single Christian mom, but he had been pointed in the right direction. Unfortunately, he’d also been hanging with the wrong crowd. It’s in the jail cell that he committed his life to Christ.
As our new pastor accepted the commission last Sunday to lead his church well, he recognized people in attendance who had influenced his life. Mentors and friends from throughout the state had traveled to a little town in northeastern Indiana to support and celebrate this once-troubled, now-redeemed man of God as he began a new chapter. These people who had invested in him were now seeing his life “yield fruit.”
Bieber appears to be writing a new chapter, as well. In a recent interview, he said this:
“We have the greatest healer of all and his name is Jesus Christ. And he really heals. This is it.”
Now 21, Bieber has a lot to say about Christianity, but his current take on faith boils down to this: “I just wanna honestly live like Jesus. Not be Jesus – I could never – I don’t want that to come across weird. He created a pretty awesome template of how to love people and how to be gracious and kind. If you believe it, he died for our sins.”
I don’t expect Bieber to become a “choir boy” overnight. But I do pray that reconnecting with the faith his mother instilled in him will draw him into a lifestyle that’s less self-destructive and more productive.
Bieber created a stir in my corner of the world recently when he showed up at a local venue over Labor Day weekend. Turns out, he was staying with a friend at a nearby lake. There was a Twitter and Facebook frenzy when people in this small college town discovered the identity of the cute blonde guy in the hoodie, playing drums at a local hang-out. He later posted a video of himself skiing.
Just being a guy. Who loves Jesus.
My prayer for Bieber today, and for my own sons, is that they surround themselves with people who speak truth, that they not “sit in the seat of scoffers” who will criticize the faith that’s part of their identity, and that they will live their one earthly life with integrity.
“He is like a tree planted by streams of water
that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither.
In all that he does, he prospers.” Selah