Ahead of our son’s 10th birthday this year, we wanted to take advantage of this special occasion to do something even deeper and more meaningful in his life than the typical birthday party. We wanted to call together a group of men who have been influential in his life up to this point, and have them join with me (his dad) in inviting him into the next stage of life on his journey toward manhood.
What follows is a summary of what I planned for our son’s 10th birthday event, including examples of things I wrote and said. I share this here as a launching pad for whatever God may put on your heart to do for your son! Feel free to take my planning and modify it for your own setting. Feel free to take the things I said and let them get you started in writing your own words of blessing and encouragement and challenge. May God bless and empower you and your son. May He pour out His Presence, grace, purity, and purpose on your son’s life, both now and all throughout his future!
- Select and reserve the venue and date.
- Create the list of men we would like to be present.
- Create and send to these men an invitation to the dinner, including instructions for what to prepare to share with the birthday boy at the dinner (a copy of that invitation is provided below).
- Ask 3-4 of the men to help prepare the food for the dinner.
- Ask a friend to be the photographer for the event.
- Put together a slideshow of growing-up photos of the birthday boy to be playing on a continuous loop during the meal.
- Bring a notebook and pen to take notes on what each man shares at the dinner. Or, ask each man to bring a hard copy of what they will be sharing (I didn’t think of that ahead of time, so I just took notes during the dinner). These words of advice, encouragement, and challenge can be compiled for your son as a memento of the special occasion.
- Compose a follow-up “Thank You!” email to send out after the event to the men who came (a copy of what I sent is provided below).
In a few weeks, my son Eli will turn 10 years old! I would like to celebrate this important milestone in his life by hosting a special men’s dinner in his honor on Saturday, 14-March at 6:30pm in the AFM Deck 7 Lounge.
I would very much like for you to be a part of this important night for Eli.
During dinner that night, I will ask each man to stand and share a very brief word of encouragement, advice, challenge, or blessing for Eli for his 10th birthday, along with a Bible verse that you would choose for him.
The goal is to have a series of short, powerful, one-point messages & Scripture verses for Eli. I would ask that your piece of advice & Scripture take only about 60 seconds to share. Instead of writing a lengthy speech, I’m asking each man to share just one brief, powerful thought with Eli, and one Scripture that the Lord would give you for him.
If you are willing to be a part of this for Eli, please save the date. Thank you so much for your consideration of this special 10th birthday ceremony! –nick
- Brief welcome & blessing for the meal.
- EAT! Light music & slideshow photos playing on the screen throughout dinner. (For the dinner, I asked 3 men to prepare homemade pizzas & popcorn, and another family friend to make cookies.)
- Share my “Opening Speech” (provided below).
- Invite half the men present to share their words & verses with Eli.
- Share my own words of challenge/blessing, and give Eli his special rite-of-passage birthday gift (a copy of what I said here is provided below).
- Ask the other half of the men present to share their words & verses with Eli.
- Gather everyone together for a closing prayer & blessing for Eli.
My Opening “Speech” at the Dinner:
At age 10, your community acknowledges that you have passed from the stage of childhood and into a new stage of life called “adolescence”. Adolescence is a series of years in-between childhood and being a teenager; it is a time of growing, maturing, enjoying some new freedoms, and also taking on some new responsibilities.
Eli, throughout our dinner together tonight, each man here has prepared a very brief word of encouragement, advice, challenge, or blessing to share with you as you leave childhood behind and begin taking these first steps into adolescence. Each man has also selected a Bible verse specifically for you for this occasion.
Before we start the speeches, I want to thank all those who helped make this special event possible… (thank anyone who helped prepare food, decorate, traveled a distance to be here, etc.)
I then invited half the men present to share the words they had prepared and the verses they had chosen for Eli. I took notes of what each man said and the verses they chose in order to put it all into a book for Eli after the event.
My own words of challenge/blessing for Eli, along with a special gift:
Eli, in our family, we have also been preparing you for this milestone birthday by teaching and training you to begin taking responsibility over two key areas of your life: #1 – your relationship with God, and #2 – your finances.
Dianna and I have been teaching you all about prayer, about how to read God’s Word, and about how to listen to what He is saying to you through His Word. We have demonstrated for you how to begin each day by spending a few minutes alone with God: in talking with Him through prayer, and listening to Him through Bible study.
With that in mind, I have a special gift to give you tonight to help you with this… (a new year-long devotional book for pre-teen boys)
Eli, we don’t just want you to know about God. More and more, Dianna and I want you to know God, personally. One of the very best ways to do that is to take a few special moments to meet alone with Him each morning in prayer and Bible study. This devotional book will help you do that.
Second, Dianna and I are giving you control over managing your own bank account. You will have the responsibility to deposit your own money into your account from your Commission Chart each week, and of keeping track of your balance in the account. You will also have the freedom to spend your money as you wish as God’s steward.
Eli, I trust you, I believe in you, and of course, I will continue to help you, train you, and coach you day by day as you begin to take on the responsibility for these two important areas of your life.
I then invited the other half of the men present to share the words they had prepared and the verses they had chosen for Eli. I was even able to show a few videos of words from men who were not able to make it to the dinner due to geography! I continued to take notes of what each man said and the verses they chose so that I could make a memory book of the event for Eli afterwards.
Closing Prayer / Blessing for Eli:
As our final act tonight, I want to ask our Christian brothers here to join me in praying for you as you enter this new stage of life. And as a demonstration of our humility before God and of our faith in Him to hear our prayer, I am going to ask everyone to gather together, kneel down with me, connect hand-to-shoulder, and pray for Eli:
Father God, thank You for thinking up Eli Cash. For creating him, for saving him, for inviting him into Your great plan for Your glory and the world’s redemption. Thank You for the character, the giftings, and the skills You have given him to be Your eternally-beloved and adopted son, and to be Your co-worker in the world.
God, I pray that You would make Yourself personally known to Eli, more and more each day. Lord, may he not just know all about You, but may he truly know You. May you two share a vibrant relationship, built upon constant talking with and listening to one another. May Eli come to know Your voice, like Samuel did when he was an adolescent boy.
Father, I pray that this personal knowledge of You would lead Eli to love You – deeply and truly – with all of his heart, soul, mind, and strength. Lord, I pray that You would give Eli a hunger for Your Word – may he just crave it! and long to meet You in it. And Lord, please give him the discipline to daily feast on Your Word and satisfy that daily hunger for You.
Lord, may that ever-growing love for You in Eli lead him to love his neighbors as himself – at home, at school, around the ship, around this city and country, and around the world.
Holy Spirit, please fill and empower Eli Cash to bring Jesus great glory. To live his life for You. Help him to know and personally experience more and more each day that You have given him everything he needs for life and Godliness, by the knowledge of You, who have called him to Yourself by Your own glory and goodness.
God, may Eli be an example for his peers. May he be a leader for joy-filled, holy living among his generation. Lead him to love his Momma and sisters deeply, and Lord, please continue building into him Your affectionate, respectful, pure, life-giving, and beautifying love for women. Please fill Eli with wisdom for decision-making and discernment.
Please fill his heart and mind with deep and abiding joy and peace in You. In the Name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – Amen.
Follow-up “Thank You!” to all the Men who came:
I want to thank you all again for sharing in last night’s special 10th birthday dinner & ceremony for Eli. Your presence there with us and the words & Scriptures you all shared with him were so powerful!
Thank you so much for giving up your Saturday evening to share in this significant event in my son’s life. And let me say, it was personally edifying for my own spirit to hear your words of encouragement and advice for my 10-year-old – and I’m 35! I hope it was a blessing to you all as well.
I am deeply grateful for each one of you. Thank you all so much for all that you are and all that you do. –nick