I had to stop and stare at the beautiful humor. Father and ten-year-old son were so identical you could have matched them up out of a thousand daddies and a thousand sons. They sported the same pointed noses and rounded chins. Their blushed cheeks and tall foreheads were perfect copies. Their dark, narrow eyes finished out their common genetic display. They even walked the same, each carrying a Coke and some snack. Their dirty, work-worn pants sagged beneath their bellies in the same manner, and the only difference between their rounded shoulders was proportion—a two-hundred pounder and a seventy-five pounder. I wondered how the boy escaped getting any traits from his mother. He looked like a clone of his dad.

As I stood there smiling, I remembered the many good times I shared with my young sons—and daughters—all the stores we entered, rides in old pickup trucks, chores performed together, helping me on the job, going fishing or hunting, or just stopping at a pawn shop to browse.

And then the bell started ringing again, the bell in my head that goes off when I see an example of what is missing in families today. That little ‘cloned’ ten-year-old was emotionally as sturdy as a cedar fence post. I could see relaxed contentment written all over him. He was not a troublesome kid who did things to get attention; he was a little man with responsibility. He respected his daddy and his daddy respected him. They were a team, something even a mother could never understand or share.

Fathers, there is no substitute for time spent with your sons. Boys do not want to sit in front of you and have serious talks. They will scratch you off like a chigger bite. Boys will talk when all eyes are focused on the yellow and white lines on the highway. They will talk when they have a splitting maul in their hands and you are stacking the fire wood they split. Words about duty and doing the right thing and being responsible mean little compared to the example you manifest day after day and year after year. Some of these old country fathers never knowingly try to teach their boys anything, but they manage to duplicate their own character and personality in their sons by means of fellowship.

I say it again: “More is caught than taught.”

“Like father, like son.”

“The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.”

Life begets life. Living begets living. Righteousness and peace beget righteousness and peace.

The greatest privilege and opportunity this life affords a man is a second, third, fourth, fifth chance (depending on how many kids you have) to mold a man fit for the kingdom of God. Our personal mistakes and shortcomings can be corrected in our sons. We can give God a better childhood, youth, and manhood than our own. We make an indelible contribution to eternity.

What an incredible responsibility!