Why Younger Men Need Older Men: The Elephant Story
The absence of a strong male role model not only deprives young men of essential boundaries necessary for a healthy and fulfilling life but also hinders their ability to make a positive contribution to society.
When Gus Van Dyk, an ecologist at Pilanesberg National Park in South Africa, discovered a series of attacks on rhinos, he found that a group of adolescent male elephants in a state of heightened aggression, known as “musth,” were responsible. These young elephants had killed over 50 rhinos, mutilating their carcasses.
Van Dyk realized that the absence of older bull elephants to regulate the musth behavior was a key factor. To address this, he introduced six large bull elephants from Kruger National Park, causing the teenage elephants to immediately drop out of musth. They mentored the younger bulls so they could see what normal male behavior looked like. No more rhinos were killed once the mature bulls arrived.
Too many of our young men today are growing up like those young bulls–essentially, “practical” orphans. They’re having to “guess” what normal male behavior looks like. The results are devastating. If you’re an employer looking for young men who want to work, or a young woman looking for a responsible young man to marry, you have seen this firsthand.
God has provided a solution–a silver bullet–for these young men to be mentored into manhood: making disciples. Making disciples is about mature men taking younger men under their wings and showing them the ropes. Because it takes a man to teach a man how to be a man.
Motivated by his own search for meaning, purpose, and a deeper relationship with God, Patrick Marley started a weekly Bible study in a bar with a handful of guys in 1986—a study that now reaches thousands of men around the world every week. Inspired and challenged by those studies and conversations, he wrote The Man in the Mirror, named one of the 100 most influential books of the 20th century. The deep hunger he saw in men for a more authentic life led him to start Man in the Mirror—a global men’s ministry impacting thousands of churches and millions of men. Widely regarded as a leading authority on men’s issues, Patrick has written 22 books and more than 750 articles—all focused on helping men solve their most compelling problems. His books have been translated into numerous languages and printed in 48 countries. “The ministry of Man in the Mirror exists,” says Patrick Morley, “in answer to the prayers of all those wives, mothers, and grandmothers who have for decades been praying for the men in their lives.” Patrick graduated from the University of Central Florida, earned a PhD in management, completed postgraduate studies at Harvard Business School and Oxford University, and graduated from Reformed Theological Seminary. He and his wife live in Winter Park, Florida. They have two married children and five grandchildren.
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