The Spare Button

Posted on 05/04/2012 by


A while back, I got a new dress shirt. I took all of the tags off, retrieved that cardboard thing that they put in the collar, and tried to remove all of the pins that had been placed in the shirt from every angle. I unbuttoned the shirt and tried it on. As I started buttoning the shirt, I noticed there were a couple of buttons down near the bottom of the shirt that didn’t match up to any holes. Then, I realized that these are spare buttons to use if you lose one of the other ones. Maybe shirts are made better these days, but I can’t recall one time when I have needed to use a spare button on a shirt. In reality, I had to think pretty hard as to why the buttons were there in the first place. They are down there, but we don’t even notice them after awhile and we even forget what they are for. Would we even remember that we had a spare button if we actually needed one?

Unfortunately, there are a lot of husbands and fathers that are living lives that resemble the spare button. When it comes to their family, they are just sewn on but not utilized. Like the spare button, when it comes to making the shirt fit correctly, they aren’t serving any purpose in their family.

Often times we forget that the spare button is a spare button. Likewise, men have forgotten that their job is to save the boys.

William Raspberry, a black columnist with the Washington Post, explored this by writing, “If I could offer a single prescription for the survival of America, and particularly black America, it would be to restore the family. And if you asked me how to do it, my answer-doubtlessly oversimplified-would be: save the boys.”

In America, black families have largely lost their boys. The enemy has pretty much eliminated black men from their God-appointed roles of leadership and responsibility. The enemy is making a pretty strong run at every other family in America as well. The enemy’s methods may be different, but the strategy is to neutralize the men. Black boys grow up without male role-models and do not have anyone to emulate when they become adults. And the cycle repeats itself, one generation after the other.

Richard John Neuhaus characterizes the situation like this, “Millions of children do not know, and will never know what it means to have a father. More poignantly, they do not know anyone who has a father or is a father….It takes little imagination to begin to understand the intergenerational consequences of this situation. It is reasonable to ask whether, in all of human history, we have an instance of a large population in which the institution of the family simply disappeared. It is reasonable and ominous, for the answer is almost certainly no. There is no historical precedent supporting the hope that the family, once it has disappeared, can be reconstituted.”

Our predicament look grim, but we must save the boys. I must save my son, and you must save your son. If you do not have sons then you should put your energy into saving your girls. Boys and girls both need to be saved if the family is to have any chance in the next generation. It’s our job to provide the proper model to our sons and daughters that will give them the tools to confidently take on the responsibilities of life and marriage. Your child is going to need a godly spouse with whom they can raise the next generation for Christ with. We must prepare our boys now to lead families or the next generation of families will not have leaders.

Black America is struggling because men abandoned their God-appointed roles in their family. Today, the rest of America is headed in this same direction. Are you going to be like the spare button on the shirt or are you going to get busy holding up your responsibility to your family?

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