What’s The One Most Important Thing?

We recently reached a milestone online – our Facebook page Raising Real Men has gathered 20,000 fans. In the discussion that morning, one of our readers asked, “As a single mom, can you tell me the one most important thing I can teach my son?”

One Most Important Thing

I have thought about that myself. When I had my cancer diagnosis a few years ago, I asked myself, If this is the beginning of the end of my time on earth, is there anything I want to be sure that my children have heard?  I was really thankful that Melanie and I had finished our book on raising sons, so that whatever happened to me or her, our children would understand what we were trying to accomplish in their childhood. But was there anything else?

Part of the answer to that question was our second book, My Beloved and My Friend. We have been so blessed in our marriage, we wanted to share what we’ve learned in nearly thirty years as a couple.

But the best thing is to go back to the Scriptures. Are there any really succinct statements of what’s most important? Something you can easily reference and recall?

When Jesus walked in the Temple courtyard the week before His crucifixion, a scribe asked Him, “Which commandment is the most important of all?” Jesus answered,

“The most important is ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”

(Mark 12:28-31, ESV; see Deuteronomy 6:4-5 and Leviticus 19:18)

Boy FishingThere are many other summary statements in the Bible. My theme for this year is Micah 6:8 –

He has shown you, O man, what is good;
And what does the Lord require of you
But to do justly,
To love mercy,
And to walk humbly with your God?

To me, that’s a reminder to do my duty with integrity, responsibility, courage, and diligence; to care for my family and other relationships with gentleness, humility, and love; and above all, to live in conscious obedience to the direction and guidance of my Heavenly Father.

Solomon wrote a dissertation on the pointlessness of worldly philosophy and empty pursuits—he had tried them in abundance—and finished the book of Ecclesiastes with an even briefer statement:

Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter:

Fear God and keep His commandments,
For this is man’s all.

(Ecclesiastes 12:13)

What I’ve told our children is that we will do our best to prepare them to do whatever God calls them to do in life, but we will not measure their success in terms of academic achievement, wealth, recognition, or status. The one most important thing is that they learn to know and love the Lord Jesus Christ, and if they will serve Him and follow in His Father’s pathways, the rest will sort itself out.

Hal Young Sugarloaf Web 150x150


Yours in the battle,


For more help in raising godly sons, get our book, Raising Real Men: Surviving, Teaching, and Appreciating Boys. It’s not just theory or principle, it’s real, practical help in a readable, conversational style from the parents of six sons. Shipping is FREE!