Write one to your teenager
Image by Nicki Varkevisser CC BY 2.0 Cropped

Letter of affirmation

It can change the course of a life

I work for a government organisation and a lot is said during the day which relates to the work at hand. Put the words in writing however - the words become official, the document goes on forever and carries more authority. That is the essence of how a letter to your young man can have a bigger, lasting impact than just speaking words. The written letter is also a tangible counter against the media trend to demean young men.

The physical heft of a letter gives the communication a psychological weight that email and texts just don’t have. A letter... is tangible evidence that someone has put some thought into their writing. In short, a physical letter shows that someone took the time to give a damn. And that’s hard for the recipient to ignore.

The letters below are heavily slanted towards Christian principles, since that is the environment our paths crossed. For you, use real life examples that your guy can relate to as part of his life experience.

Jason - background

When Jason was 3, his father left the family and when he was 10, his stepfather committed suicide. I took Jason under my wing in a response to an obvious need in his life. He never stopped testing me to see if I was going to bail out of his life just like the other men did. It was hard work to maintain the relationship. Jason's mother was a child support worker and her support was extremely valuable. She realised Jason needed a man in his life to help him through an extremely rough period. At 15 I gave him his rite-of-passage and he finally stopped testing and started accepting me in a new way. It really was an overnight change. His life from that point has gone from strength to strength. He initiated training for himself and moved into a hard but rewarding industry. He is now 26 years old and has a defacto relationship with a beautiful young lady.

The letter to Jason - mentored

About the man - Jason!

I want to make it official that I accept you as 100% male and I recognise you as a man - you are not a boy in my eyes any more! To help remember this transition and make it memorable, I have made the harbour bridge trip the memory event of this recognition. (Sydney Harbour Bridge climb in Australia is a dramatic and memorable event for a rite-of-passage)

What does all this mean, because I'll bet you (like everyone else your age) are thinking " a".

It is an attitude thing - God made you a male and he doesn't make mistakes. Physically you are definitely no longer a boy and you are absolutely not a girl, so physically you must be a man. Your body might still have some changing to do but body changes will be happening up until the day you die. Do you need to have reached your maximum physical strength before you are called a man? I don't think so because David in the Bible (the bear slayer) was still a teenager when God used him to deliver Israel. God expected man stuff from him and David delivered without effort or stress. God used all the negative circumstances he went through to train him ready to do the big stuff later. God treated David as he would any fully matured man but he was not physically fully matured yet according to the Bible.

It is important to accept this view of yourself despite how you might feel because otherwise everyone of us guys gets locked into trying to prove to ourselves that we are worthy to be called a man - and like other stuff it can become a lifetime quest that is never satisfied.

The real story is that God has made you a man and he doesn't make mistakes. He made you just like you are and you don't have to do anything more to become that man!

Nothing you do will make you more of a man.
Nothing you can do will make you less of a man.

You are a man and that is that. If someone tries to put you down or tries to make you feel less than a man then don't worry about it - be confident that nothing they say changes the fact - you are a man and totally acceptable the way you are.

I want to say it again - in my eyes you are totally accepted as a male and not only that, I fully recognise you as a man. I see you as a fine young man that I am proud to be associated with.

Secret men stuff

Read – if you know all the stuff on that site your mind will be much more at peace with secret guys' stuff we all deal with.

Areas all men have to work on to be successful

The physical traits of a man happen by themselves, however the character traits of a real man must be learned. The following points are from Raising a Modern Day Knight

Rejects Passivity (sluggishness, inactivity, laziness)
Adult males have a natural tendency to avoid social responsibility – are lazy. Real men reject being passive in the areas they have responsibility in.
Accepts responsibility (obligation, loyalty)
Jesus had the responsibility to do God's will while on earth. That responsibility defined Jesus as a man and He pursued the responsibility as a source of great satisfaction. The responsibility of every man is:
  1. To obey God's will (as revealed in the scriptures)
  2. To do his work (at home, at his job, in the church and the community)
  3. To love his wife (if he is married)
Leads courageously (brave, fearless)
Real men lead rather than follow. They do not ignore their principles in order to yield to the emotions and feelings of the moment. Leadership demands that men must have the courage to master their passions and control them with the principles of truth revealed in God's word.
Expects a greater reward
Life is not just work day after day. The anticipation of later joy kept Jesus obedient to God's will for Him on earth. Real manhood is liberating and a call to life. It is also a means of great reward here on earth and afterward in heaven.
Who you are

Some characteristics I have noticed with you - you are able to think through tasks better than most guys your age. That shows up in things like the way you approach the work I give you – your mind is on the job about all the steps needed to get the job done - and quickly too. No doubt you take this ability for granted. I don't take it for granted because I see a lot of young guys who can't do it - that's why I appreciate seeing that ability in you. One day I had a visitor here while you were working and they noted the same thing after seeing you in action.

In the physical you are tall, well built, strong and good looking with a great personality. What more could any young guy want? Your physical abilities are excellent too – once you have figured what to do, then you do a great job from what I have seen.

Your personality is friendly, obliging, teachable and relaxed – I like having you about!

The future - the sky is the limit

God has a future already planned for you and has given you the skills you need. I understand it has to do with slaying a Goliath* or something like that. You are at the threshold of a long and blessed life of greatness and impacting peoples' lives. Don't sell yourself short over the next couple of crucial years - there will be plenty of opportunities to settle for second best - instead keep pushing ahead to develop your skills. You are destined for great things in life. Like so many in the Bible when they were young – it is difficult to see how God could possibly use us for anything or our life would amount to anything, but things change. Being willing is the important ingredient.

(*slaying a Goliath is a metaphor about how God turns bad circumstances into a strength for what you need to face in the future)

Who you are to me

I consider myself blessed that our life paths have crossed. One of the things I really like about you is you are not afraid to show friendship – I know I mean something to you because of the way you relate to me. A bit of inside information here on relationships. People have different ways of receiving and giving love. There are five 'love languages'. They are: words of affirmation; physical touch; quality time together; acts of serving others; gifts. There is no right or wrong about which of these languages means the most to a particular person. We are all made the way we are and all respond differently to these areas. Keep this in mind for the future and when you find the other person's main 'love language', the relationship goes much better.

A father's blessing

Jason, I pray that God will bless you and that you will always be at peace within yourself. I pray too that you will always be protected and that you will prosper physically, mentally, emotionally, financially, spiritually and in your relationships. I claim for you the gift from God of the ability to enjoy the work of your hands and that at the end of your days you will look back with great satisfaction at the life you have lived and the great things you have achieved.

The Bible says..God has not given you a spirit of fear, but of power, love and a sound mind.

It is great being a man. Welcome to the world of men. Enjoy!

Your friend, Tyler, 15th August

Luke - background

Luke was beaten down by life, by his 'friends' and by his family situation. After a while guys in this situation believe everyone thinks the same bad thoughts about them, because nobody has ever said anything different to them. This letter had a good effect on Luke because someone finally took the time to say something true and positive to him. It was not an overnight change but one more factor (that he can read and re-live anytime) in building him up as a person.

Letter to Luke - mentored

I would describe you as 'a loyal and faithful friend'. Only the other day some of us were talking about all the guys around church and when your name came up and my comment was exactly that. If you want a loyal friend, Luke is the guy.

With the church projector work, I am very happy with your performance. It is a challenge that most people sitting in church don't really appreciate and you handle it well. Your attitude is great and your slide timing is great too. I know if you are left to look after the projector, then you will do a good job whether supervised or not – thanks!

And about you – the man. You are tall, dark, strong, good looking (for a guy), well built and talented. You also have a friendly personality and good sense of humour. What else would a guy want? You have got what others guys wish they had.

It was your personality which I immediately liked the first time I remember meeting you – at Sydney. I was also impressed when I saw you on the soccer field – you kept a cool head under pressure and that is a talent not many guys have. Your cricket bowling ability is great too and the fact you play in teams way above your age is another story of your unique ability. Your 90+ km/h bowling speed is amazing!

You probably don't see yourself as talented (just like every teenage guy does not see themselves as talented either). The reason is that when God gives you a gift at doing something it seems as natural as breathing and you wonder why everyone else can't do the same thing like you can. As you get older, it is those talents that life and God will normally use in you to accomplish purpose for your life and often to give you an income – so keep developing those gifts and talents and we will watch how your life unfolds.

I have spoken to you about Russia before, but just to remind you, you were such a bonus to me when I was overseas – it meant so much having that regular contact with an English speaker who wanted to spend time with me from the other side of the world. I really appreciate you for your time spent on Skype during my trip and at times you made the difference between me coping and not coping with it all. The difference between doing it hard and doing it easy – thanks!

So, I really appreciate that our paths have crossed and I count you as a significant friend. I'm looking forward to more great times together.

Tyler 7th December


Write an old fashioned letter (on paper). You will have a positive and sometimes dramatic effect on a teenage boy's life who finds himself in your sphere of influence. Choose your moment and adjust the content of the letter to resonate with the guy, his circumstances and your personality. Don't manipulate or raise ongoing issues. You can safely assume no one else is going to write a letter for this young guy, so you have a great opportunity.

Don't worry about the quality of your writings. All you need to do is to reveal some of your heart and dreams towards your young guy. The important thing is that you are doing something intentional to lift the boy to a new level that he can't reach by himself.

Use the season you find yourself in (with open communication to the guy) to impart a blessing in words. Seasons move on and can't be recaptured later. One good letter is a great start, but more can be written later at significant life events.

Other examples

Good Men Project - example of a letter
An Open Letter to My [estranged] Son...
Father Factor - example of a letter
An Open Letter From a Dad to His Son on His 18th Birthday
Father Factor - example of a letter
An Open Letter From a Dad to His Son leaving for college