Boyhood is a time to enjoy life with little responsibilities. Things are mostly done for us and our biggest concern is simply what play and fun look like today. Maturity then comes with increasing responsibility for ourselves and to those within the realm of our influence. This can be described as the journey from bachelor to father.
The bachelor is free to be concerned with just himself and his own happiness. While he might have a daring and youthful spirit, this is not connected to a larger story or purpose.
On the other hand, the father role begins as we protect and provide for the innocent and all those God has entrusted to our care. Our strength, courage, and wisdom are offered in service of love and the larger story God is telling.
While certainly this is a journey of maturity, it’s not purely a consequence of age. Nor is it limited to our stage of life externally.
For instance, there are many who take up the mantle of father by truly serving others even in their youth. And there are also many older men who still run around with the spirit of the bachelor – pursuing only their own fleeting pleasures.
Likewise, a man without biological children of his own can still know what it means to fulfill his responsibility to others. And, to be sure, simply having children biologically doesn’t automatically make someone mature and responsible.
Bachelor and father mark how we show up in the world and the degree of maturity we bring with us.
While there’s a time to enjoy our bachelorhood, our families and communities need us to embrace our role as fathers as well. And we allow much suffering and heartache to continue when we don’t.
In the end, regardless of your age or external life stage, take the inner journey from bachelor to father and become a generous blessing in the lives of others.