April 8, 2009

Parenting Is A Stewardship

There is so much chatter about being a good steward over your body, your finances, and your possessions. But rarely do we hear about one of our greatest calls to stewardship. (Please read Malachi 2:14-16.) As we continue our discussion about parenting, we will look at another reason we are parents: God seeks a godly seed. Not just any seed but a godly seed. We can conclude from this passage in Malachi and the passage in Psalm 127 in my previous post that parenting is a stewardship. A steward is one who manages another’s property, finances or affairs. Though being the steward over our children may be the most difficult challenge we face as parents, we are well suited for it. We have not only been given our children as gifts but we have also been given a prescription and an objective as to how they are to be cared for. (Please read Proverbs 22:6.) Parental stewardship involves discipleship. Biblical parenting has to be intentional. With this in mind, we can surmise that parenting is no less than discipleship in the home. Unless we see the gravity of our responsibility in this matter, we will fail to put forth the effort necessary to train up a godly seed. (Please stop and read I Corinthians 11:1.) In this passage the word follow means to imitate. When we are discipling others, whether they are our children or not, it is important that we are careful to use the “do as I do and not just as I say” approach. Tim and I decided that speaking kindly and with respect to one another was something we wanted to be the norm in our home. We were diligent to hold one another accountable for this. When our children came along, we found it to be much more of a challenge to maintain our desired end. In order to eliminate the possibility of a set back, we allowed our daughters to speak to us any way that we spoke to them. Because we were committed to this, it worked really well for us. For example, if I spoke to one of the girls with a raised voice, she had the liberty to speak back to me in a raised voice. Fortunately, to the best of my memory, it never happened that way. I do recall on occasions having one of them remind me of the rules and say “do you want me to talk to you that way?” I would say that our children grew up in a home where there was a minimal amount of unkind words or disrespect for one another. If this behavior did occur it would be addressed promptly with an apology, no matter who the offender was. So often we want to be examples in word only. God calls us to something much greater in our parenting. Your children know when your words are sincere. Even at a young age they are able to perceive if your words match your actions. This poem by Guy Dowd says it well:

I’d rather see a sermon than hear one any day
I’d rather you walk with me than merely point the way
The eye is more a pupil than ever was the ear
Good advice is often confusing
But example is always clear

Discipleship or training requires deliberate intentional effort and a well thought-out strategy. Discipling our children is a process that doesn’t give immediate results. My next post will be titled “Parenting is a Process.” Grace-Works

April 1, 2009

Gifts From God

I told my daughter Mary that I can’t wait until Julia starts asking all the “but why Mommy?” questions. Those were the ones that always tripped me up. The good thing is that they sent me looking for answers. Parenting requires humility and a teachable attitude. There is no room for pride and selfishness. Tim and I have always said that the most beneficial preparation we had for ministry was parenting. As parents, we learned about depending on the Lord; serving even when we were exhausted; the importance of having right attitudes; admitting our short comings and weaknesses; continuing to learn so that we could teach others; and the list goes on. It is important for us to ask ourselves why we are parents. One reason would be because God desired to give us a gift, a reward, or an inheritance (Read Psalm 127:3). Children are valuable gifts that God has given us. When we begin to view them the way the Bible speaks of them, we take our role in their lives more seriously. This concept hit home for me late into the night when my daughter Bethany was about four years old. She had been suffering with an ear ache earlier in the day. We prayed for her, gave her medication and tucked her into bed. Tim and I had been asleep for quite a while when we were awakened by her crying at his side of our bed. My back was to them and as I awoke and turned toward her, there standing behind her was a tall man or woman (I couldn’t tell which). It appeared that he was watching Bethany’s interaction with her Dad and writing in a notepad as though he was taking notes. I immediately reacted by yelling, “Who are you, what are you doing here?” He looked at me with a surprised look as though I wasn't supposed to see him. As I continued to yell the question, he began to back out of the room and faded away. At that point, Tim jumped out of bed and frantically searched the house for an intruder. When he came back to the room to tell me no one was there, I couldn’t believe it! It was just so real! Whether it was a dream or a real encounter with Bethany’s guardian angel, I may never know for sure. I choose to believe the later. Nevertheless, the purpose of it was served. I was convinced more than ever that every interaction with my children was being observed by someone who cared very deeply for them and was keeping a record. Needless to say, I became a much more conscientious parent after that night. Children are valuable little people that God has given to us for a reason. As a society, we are guilty of not valuing our children and believing them to be gifts. They are every generation’s most valuable resource. In the next post, I will talk about our responsibility for this gift. Grace-works!