The vocation of Boyhood
The development of the male child is complex, and while the goal is masculinity, it is not a destination that comes with an estimated time of arrival. Luther and theologians of vocation agree that to be a child is a vocation in and of itself, with Luther even calling the relationship between child and parents vocational. Jesus Christ sanctified and blessed childhood with his own childhood as he was “conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the virgin Mary,” (Luther's Large Catechism II 31) born under the Law like all humans (Gal 4:4), and lived a child’s life, submitting to his earthly parents to the glory of His heavenly Father (Luke 2:41).
The vocation of a child is to receive. He receives his parents as he does not choose them. He receives food, shelter, clothes, and all that is needed to support his physical body and life from his parents as God the Father provides (Luther's Small Catechism II 2). The same is true with God the Father. God chooses him and brings him spiritually into His kingdom through the waters of Holy Baptism. As he receives the grace of God through Christ Jesus, this baptized child receives a new identity, which is reserved only for the baptized, namely, a son of God (Gal 4:5-7).
The vocation of boyhood is to discover God’s creation, learn to serve in the family, and to be catechized in the living Word. This vocation is not static but matures, and while he continues to receive, his immediate relationships expand his vocation. One endeavor within the boy’s vocation, that his father may not appreciate but God in His fatherly wisdom permits, is that the son will bring to ruin his father’s idols. By virtue of being a normal and active child, the son will scratch the new car, break an expensive window, lose a precious tool, drop the costly laptop, or cause the father to place his career second to his son’s needs. The boy needs to be taught that to honor his parents is his most noble and heroic act, a more excellent work than the most pious acts of cloistered monks in their fortresses.
Recognizing the gifts of parents is a God-pleasing thing. As the boy is taught to obey his parents, he also learns the discipline of self-sacrifice for, first and foremost, his parents and siblings, and then for his neighbors. In the ideal situation, the boy begins to identify with his father and observes the masculine vocations of manhood and fatherhood. This includes how his father loves his mother as her husband and how his father’s connectedness and servitude toward others is enacted in this physical world. Thus, he is implicitly taught, by observing his father acting Christlike, just how to nurture and minister to his future wife and family, should it be God’s will.
Thought from a shepherd of God's sheep and even goats.