One year I had the privilege of speaking at three Promise Keepers events. Addressing these large crowds is not only a humbling opportunity, but also a real communication challenge.
One thing I’ve learned is you never know what God will orchestrate at meetings like this. Take the Promise Keepers event in Denver. For 30 minutes I spoke to the men about a father’s responsibility to protect his children. I brought a dozen different traps to symbolize the different snares the enemy uses to ambush our children: drugs, peer pressure, pride, alcohol, and others.
One by one I set off those traps. I exhorted the men to stay out of the traps themselves and to guide the next generation through the perilous years of childhood and the dangers of adolescence.
For my conclusion I asked a friend and his teenage son, Tom and Trent Ward of Oklahoma City, to join me on the platform. I put a blindfold on Trent and left him at one end of the platform while his dad and I walked to the other end.
Between Trent and us were those 12 traps. Tom and I, at the other end, represented manhood and maturity.
I then asked Trent to take off his shoes. A wisp of nervous laughter swept quickly through the stadium.
“Trent,” I said, “I want you to move toward adulthood and maturity. I want you to come to me and your dad!”
Feeling his way with his bare foot, Trent cautiously took a step forward. Then another. A giant bear trap, its steel jaws wide open, lay only a couple of strides away.
It was as though someone had sucked the air right out of that stadium.
“Trent, stop!” Tom’s voice powerfully thundered through the stadium.
Forty-six thousand men took a breath as Tom made his way through the traps to his son. Placing his son’s hands on his shoulders, Tom instructed his son to follow carefully behind him. Then he guided his son through the dangers.
Suddenly, all over the stadium, men began to rise to their feet and applaud. They got the message.
What followed next, however, sent chills down my spine. Into the stadium streamed 5,000 teenage boys, the sons of many men at the conference.
Later I was told that throughout the stadium grown men wept as they looked upon the next generation and reflected upon their responsibility.
After addressing the teens for a few moments, I turned to the men and said I wanted them to humble themselves by getting on their knees and praying for themselves and for the next generation.
Not a man was left standing. To close the time I addressed the boys again: “I want you young men to look around you. You are surrounded by an older generation of men who are praying. You may never see anything like this again.”
One of the greatest needs of our day is for this generation of fathers to humble themselves, assume their parental responsibilities, and bring their children to godly manhood and maturity. Tonight, before you go to bed, why not kneel beside your children as they sleep and pray for yourself and for them?
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