Reading Jon Acuff’s book Quitter, I came across this quote, which has spurred me on in how I will teach my boys.
If I were an NFL player, one of my goals each year would be to stay out of news stories that involved me and the phrase “outside a night club.” Forget the injuries you receive out on the field, battling against 300-pound giants. The most dangerous place on the planet for a professional athlete is outside a nightclub.
First, a lot of professional athletes need to take this advice more seriously because, after all, this is the prime location for shooting yourself in the leg, punching your friend’s girl in the mouth (accidentally, apparently), murdering someone and getting acquitted, planning bathroom assaults on young ladies, and giving you the brainiac idea to hire a cruise ship for the entire team to party on, later making headlines for months that you’ll regret.
Second, and since I’m pretty sure my sons will never play in the NFL, it’s a wise lesson in teaching them through places and people. In the book of Proverbs, which is a book from a father to his son, dad looks at people and places and says to his child, “You see that? You see where that leads? Don’t go down that path; it will destroy you.”
One example. Whenever my son rides in the car past a pawn shop/cash advance center, he says to whoever he’s with, “That’s a place of foolishness.” I honestly didn’t think he’d remember, but I told him that once while we were driving to Lowe’s. I told him it was a place where people charge exorbitant interest on money and items, selling their possessions as loans, and others reap from their fiscal shortsightedness. I told him responsible adults use a bank, they work hard, and they plan for the future. Stay away from that place. And he probably didn’t pick up most of that. But he knows this—don’t go there, it’s a bad place to be.
A father’s instruction to his son ought to be just this, namely, using people, places, and things (that’s right, I remember what a noun is, vaguely) to illustrate the two paths we may travel in life—either in wisdom toward a fruitful reward, or in destruction and folly.