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Michael Pearl: Everyone needs a vision and the means to fulfill it. Now what I mean by vision, I mean there has to be something in life bigger than you. It has to be something in life more important than you. A family that works together to fulfill some vision. It can be a homestead vision to build a log cabin. Or it can be to plant a garden. Or it can be to re‑model an old house. Or it can be some science project. Or it can be to all of you taking music and become a music crew singing together.
It can be some field of study or discipline. It can do with a telescope and the stars and studying them. It can be something that the family does together to where they have fruit that comes out of their endeavor. If you don’t have a vision, they will find a vision and it might not be the proper kind.
They should be able to stand up on the bow and imagine the new world to which they are sailing. They should see that the family that they’re in, is taking them somewhere important, or they will jump ship. If you keep your kids on the cutting edge of experience they will feel sorry for those that don’t have their captain and are not on their ship.
If you can get your boys heart like that, man, if you can keep them interested in life. You know what my daddy did? When I was seven, eight, nine years old he was a house painter. He’d bring home buckets of paint and old lumber and pile it up out there and give me nails and hammer and let me build stuff. I would nail up, I would build just all kinds of things. Paint them up.
Then he’d bring home old wagon wheels and wheelbarrow wheels and I would make push carts out of them. We’d race them down hills.
When I got up a little older he bought me a set of stencils to letter mailboxes and gave me a couple cans of paints. $8 worth of stuff, he gave me, and said, “Now you can go out and paint mailboxes.” I got a job, fixed my bicycle up, put a basket on it, went out and painted mailboxes. I made a lot of money.
My daddy painted a few pictures. He got me painting some pictures. I had hope of being a great artist someday. So my daddy was constantly giving me a vision. He’d brought him a bunch of old stones and started a fence in the backyard. He quit on it by the time I learned to lay stone with him. I had to finish that thing. Took me a whole year to make this long stone fence, two sides. I was about 14, 15, 16 years old.
You know what I’m doing right now at home? I’m laying rock. I love to lay rock. He taught me to lay rock back then. My daddy gave me lots and lots of visions. I had hope that when I got grown, life was going to be fun. My daddy gave me that.
If you just set your boys aside, leave them at home watching cartoons, playing video games, don’t be surprised and whine when they jump ship and join some wicked sinful drug‑crazed crowd. And go off into some sexual immorality, impurity, or just end up lazy bums on the welfare program.
If you don’t give him a vision, teach him to work, and get him involved and being creative when they’re eight or nine years old, what makes you think they’re going to be that way when they’re 18 or 19 years old?
Actually you need to start sooner than that. I have my three year old grandson, he’s learning to work right now and Gracie out here, she’s working. You see, kids will wear themselves out for you when they can see and enjoy the success of their labors.
But when you try to force slavery upon them, slave labor, they’ll file the chains off their ankles and jump ship. In other words, don’t just make them work for you, work with them in fellowship. Make your kids crew members, not passengers. Give them a job to do at home. Make them feel that they are making a vital contribution to the family and to fulfilling the vision of the family.
The problems most of you have here, with your kids, those problems don’t exist in a Mennonite community where everyone is needed to cut firewood, to bring it in, to milk cows, to get butter, to collect the eggs, to take care of the animals, to put a barn up, put a roof on, cut the sorghum and cook it. Everybody’s working, everybody’s busy, everybody’s needed and there’s no such thing as a sense of lack of self‑worth. No such thing as self‑loathing. Everyone knows they’re important to the community and they have a place.
It is this city lifestyle of all your needs being met, all the appliances you have that do your work for you. Daddy does all the work and the kids are not needed, they’re not useful. So they develop a sense of being worthless. Why? Because they are worth less. They’re not needed to do anything. So you need to recreate an atmosphere where your children are needed.
When a kid feels good about himself because he’s triumphed and you’re the one that made it possible, who stood by him, who encouraged him, who applauded his successes, who looked over his failures, who bragged when he took another step, who brought your friends in and celebrated when he finally succeeded, you do that, he won’t get off your ship.
He’ll stay on your ship until it’s time for him to be the master of this own ship. When a kid feels good about himself and you’re the one that made it possible. He will always want to be on the ship you’re on.