When Nathan turned thirteen, he didn’t just have a birthday. He had a birth-month.
Dave and I wanted Nathan to know that as he officially became a teenager, he wasn’t stepping through the hallway from childhood to adolescence alone. He had a team who walked through that passageway with him, cheering him on.
So two months before his birthday, Dave, Nathan, and I identified five men who were already influential in his life. We emailed each man, asking him if he’d be open to spending a few hours with Nathan during his birthday month. In addition to their using those hours to make a deposit into their relational account with Nathan, we also asked each to share with Nathan one piece of life advice and one piece of spiritual advice.
These men are busy fathers and grandfathers, but to our delight, each accepted. So five different men—ages thirty-seven to seventy-two—spent a few hours with Nathan that month. From golfing to a sunrise hike, these men shared memories, life stories, advice, and prayers. As Nathan recounted to Dave and me what he had learned from each man, we were filled with gratitude to God for these godly men who were pouring themselves into Nathan and our family.
To memorialize the time with these five men, Dave and Nathan built a wooden “team box” the size of a shoebox. In the box, we placed pictures of Nathan with each man, as well as a written copy of each man’s spiritual and life advice. As God brings other amazing men across Nathan’s path, we plan on asking them to spend some time with Nathan and adding their pictures and advice to Nathan’s team box. The box now sits on Nathan’s bookshelf, a palpable reminder of the amazing men who are already on Nathan’s team, as well as those who we pray will join in future years.
Dave and I are not that creative.
We never would have come up with this ritual that we’ve already done with Nathan—and plan to do with our two daughters as they turn thirteen—without the insights and ideas that emerged during our years of Sticky Faith research.
What have you done to make the birthdays in your family more significant and meaningful?
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