Alphabet Of Manly Virtues: “N” Is For “Nobility”

20 Jun

(“The Alphabet of Manly Virtues” is a 26 post series examining various character traits of godly men. Check back every Tuesday and Thursday for new posts! To view other entries in the series, click here.)


nLast year, my wife took our 4-year-old son to visit an elderly woman from our church. It was a disaster. He ran circles through her tiny apartment, her knickknacks narrowly escaping destruction. When my wife cut him off from the sweets—since he clearly didn’t need any more sugar—he threw a fit. My wife decided it was time to leave.

It got worse.

On the way out the door, this kind lady leaned down to say goodbye to my son and he spit in her face. Seriously.

Did I mention that she has only one arm?

My son spit in the face of a sweet, elderly one-armed lady! My wife was mortified.

When I came home from work she recounted the day’s events. I told her I would take care of it, but, truthfully, I had no idea what to do.

I knew I needed to do more than just discipline him for his actions; something needed to change in his heart. But how?

That’s when I came across this idea of Nobility

Words change with time. Nobility once meant a certain class of people, the titled bourgeoisie, the landed-gentry. The noble class was unreachable by the common man—an exclusive club with locked doors.

But the word evolved. Nobility is now available to anyone who lives life by a higher standard and with higher character. Today, we can all be noble.

In order to teach my son the ways of nobility, I turned to a group of men known for their noble exploits. Medieval Knights.

In a time of lawlessness, a class of men arose who swore to fight for the good and protect people from evil. These knights lived by a high standard and ensured their existence by training the next generation in their values.

Boys were prepared for knighthood from birth. They grew up with tales of bravery and adventure, learning chivalry and good manners, and playing with wooden swords and spears.

At seven-years-old, the prospective knight would leave his family and become a Page in a local castle. There he memorized the knights’ code, received an education,  learned to ride and fight, and served in the castle.

When he turned 14, he had the opportunity to become a Squire. The squire served under a knight, caring for his horse, helping with the armor, and following him into battle. In this role, he had opportunities to put into practice some of the things he learned as a page.

Finally, at 21, the squire could become a knight, but only if he lived out the noble principles of the Knights’ code.

“… he who is noble plans noble things, and on noble things he stands.” (Isaiah 32:8)

Sitting in the dining room with my son the day after the “spitting incident” I decided to put some of these principles into practice. Taking various versions of the Knight’s Code, I combined them into seven key principles. I started memorizing them with my son.

  • Fear God
  • Obey Your Parents
  • Live with Honor
  • Speak the Truth
  • Protect the Weak
  • Be Strong and Courageous
  • Never Give Up

As we recited them over and over, I realized how much I need a boost of noble character in my life.

Too often I cut corners, speak half-truths, protect my own interests, or quit when it gets difficult.  And I am not alone.

  • We men have lost sight of what is noble.
  • We aren’t noble in our treatment of women.
  • We aren’t noble in our business practices.
  • We aren’t noble in our reaction to challenges.

The world longs for a few men of nobility—modern knights set apart not by birthright but by life and character.

That’s the kind of manhood I want to imitate and teach my son. And one day, I hope to send him out into the world, no longer as a page or a squire, but as a knight.


-Josh Irby

Josh Irby headshot

Josh lives in Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina with his wife and three children. For more than a decade he has worked with university students, helping them tell better stories with their lives. He is the author of Meeting Miss Irby, the true story of two travelers—150 years apart—who meet in Sarajevo (You can download a free copy of the book on Story Cartel until July 7th). He blogs regularly at and you can also find him on Twitter.

5 Responses to “Alphabet Of Manly Virtues: “N” Is For “Nobility””

  1. sixsteps268 June 20, 2013 at 09:35 #

    Great thoughts Josh! Reminded me of Robert Lewis’ Raising a Modern Day Knight! A great tool for all fathers!

    • joshiswritingabook June 20, 2013 at 15:47 #

      Thanks! I will check that book out.

  2. More Than A Beard June 20, 2013 at 10:51 #

    Thanks for this Josh! I’m going to steal your knight’s code for my own parenting 🙂


    • joshiswritingabook June 20, 2013 at 15:55 #

      Steal away Dave. Let me know how it goes.

  3. For the Love of God June 24, 2013 at 18:49 #

    Truly great post, and challenging for me to present and live out continually to my own kids.

    Thanks for being so transparent! And boys will be boys!

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