Monthly Archives: December 2013
The following article is by Pastor Tahbiti Anyabwile of the First Baptist Church in Grand Cayman Island.
“And when the days of the feast had run their course, Job would send and consecrate them, and he would rise early in the morning and offer burnt offerings according to the number of them all. For Job said, ‘It may be that my children have sinned, and cursed God in their hearts.’ Thus Job did continually.” (Job 1:5)
This righteous man longed for his children to love and honor God. It’s the desire of all godly parents.
But Job lacked the one attribute most parents wish they had: omniscience. How could he know what his adult sons and daughters did when he was not around? How could he know what lie in the hearts of his children? Had they “cursed God in their hearts”? What a terrifying set of questions for any parent. This is why we don’t sleep until all the children arrive home safely. This is why we ask questions about friends we don’t know very well. This is why we sometimes inspect their rooms or ask searching questions while hoping not to offend. What if our children live double lives? What if they curse God in their hearts?
How does this righteous man deal with the questions and worry? how does he deal with not knowing? He appeals to the One who does know, who sees all. The very God Job feared His children might have cursed is Job’s Great Ally in the war for his children’s hearts. Job wants what God wants–a godly offspring (Mal. 2:15). God, then, is Job’s Warrior in this battle.
So, Job does two things. First, he consecrates his children. He sets them apart for God. His children do not belong to him; they belong to the Lord of life. If children are arrows in a parent’s quiver, Job aims His directly at the courts of God. One can only speculate about how much greater Job’s suffering and difficulty would have been if he maintained an idolatrous hold on his children. Certainly losing all his children in one day was as unimaginable a disaster possible. But would he have maintained faith and sanity had he prized his children above God, or built his life on his children, or found his ultimate joy in his children? Consecrating his children was not only right and godly, ultimately it provided a measure of protection. This is how Job could reply to his wife, “Shall we receive good from God, and shall we not receive evil?” (2:10) Or, “The Lord gives and the Lord takes away; blessed be the name of the Lord.”
Second, Job interceded for each of his children. Notice “he would rise early in the morning.” The earliest business of day was prayer for Job. He made his offerings to God on behalf of each child’s soul. For if they cursed God in their hearts, only God could renew their hearts. If their offense was against God, only God could relent and forgive them. They needed help from God, and Job the faithful father went to God early, interceding for their deliverance. Notice: “thus Job did continually.” Here’s a portrait of a persistently pleading parent. He conquers his helplessness by appealing to the Almighty.
These things are written for our instruction (1 Cor. 10:6). How kind of God to leave us in His word such a compelling and clear example to follow. Let us set apart our children to the Lord, and renew our prayers on their behalf. Conquer parental anxiety with petitions to our covenant God who knows our children and renews the heart.
My comment: I am seeing a lot of this working back at the Christian School. Parenting from both extremes. Worth a self-check and reminder from Ecclesiastes of the balance living as pilgrims in the world.
By Daniel Darling, VP for Communications at the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention.
My wife and I are in the throes of parenting and are surrounded, in our church and among friends, with other couples in the throes of parenting. So my parenting radar is hot. I’m learning, growing and repenting every day as I ask the Lord to make me a faithful dad.
It’s often easier to learn how to be a better parent by observing and owning our mistakes. So as I’ve observed parenting (my own and others’) and tried to admit and learn from my mistakes, I’ve compiled a list of five tendencies Christian parents have. I hope it helps you think through your own parenting journey.
1. We overexpose our kids to the culture. The Bible doesn’t use the term “culture,” but it does use a very similar word, “world.” This is a loose definition of the prevailing thinking in a given society. Typically the values of the culture run counter to the way of Christ. Not always. Sometimes a culture is shaped by Christian influence.
Today, we parents should be cautious in what we allow our kids to imbibe. We can be passive in allowing them to form ungodly convictions based on what everyone else is thinking and saying. What’s more, there are corrosive images that can hurt their souls. This is why we have to be wise in monitoring the media they consume, the time they spend online, and the time they spend with friends.
2. We underexpose our kids to the culture. This is an equal and opposite danger to overexposure. It is easy to adopt a fortress mentality as parents, sheltering our kids so much from the world that they have no ability to discern truth from error, ugliness from beauty. There is a tendency to overprotect our kids so much so that we fail to prepare them for their mission in this world.
Our kids will one day live as adults and will require the requisite skills, both spiritual and social, to make wise choices. If our only parenting mode is protection, we fail to teach them how to apply the Scriptures to the reality of life in a sinful world. What’s more we rob them of the God-glorifying act of enjoying, consuming, and creating the best of culture: art, beauty and grace as expressed by artists whose talent points to a masterful Creator.
3. We mediate all of their petty disputes. I wonder if there is a more difficult thing to resist than the impulse to dive in and solve all of my kids’ interpersonal problems with their friends. But I’ve found that when I become my child’s defense attorney, all the time, it not only harms my child’s ability to make good choices, it destroys the fragile unity among Christian parents. At times there are issues that are serious that must be addressed and there are times when a parent has to step in if a child is being bullied or abused. I’m not talking about these moments. I’m talking about the everyday squabbles that kids have.
Let’s face it, our kids are sinners in a fallen world. They will, at times, say things and do things that surprise and shock and hurt. They will at times be the recipient of hurtful words and actions. If we step in and take it personally every single time a kid calls our kid a name, we’ll not train them for life in the real world. We’ll damage their ability to work out forgiveness and repentance. And when they grow older and face life in the world, they will be in for a huge, rude awakening.
It is said often in Scripture that we demonstrate our love for God by the way we treat people. So we need to let our kids learn these lessons as they interact with their friends.
4. We focus only on short-term behaviors. I’m learning this lesson as my daughter Grace gets older. She’s eight now, and we’ve given her some liberty to go a few houses down and visit with her friends. These are good families with whom we have relationships. At times, we’ve gotten upset with Grace because she made poor choices, such as going past the boundaries we’ve set because her friends encouraged her, or going into someone else’s house or backyard without our approval.
Sometimes it’s a simple act of disobedience. But there are other times when, frankly, she was presented with quick choices and wasn’t sure how to respond. We’ve often just reprimanded her for not getting our permission, but we have realized that we hadn’t always given her the tools to choose wisely. So we’re sitting her down and running through scenarios, trying to train her how to make wise choices in the moment.
We parents have a tendency to allow the frustration of the moment or just pure laziness to set a pattern of simply punishing behaviors rather than trying to set our kids up with the right information and tools to make good choices. We have to remember that there will be a time in the future when they won’t have us around anymore. So if we make every decision for them, if we give them no space to fail and come back and figure out what they did wrong, if we don’t equip them to discern, they will be helpless when the time comes for them to be on their own. We have to remember that we’re not simply training our children to be good, we’re equipping them for God’s unique mission in their generation. Are we doing this?
5. We overcompensate for our perceived childhood gaps. Every generation tends to react to the mistakes or shortcomings (perceived or real) of the previous generation. You hear it in our talk. “My parents never gave me X, so I want to make sure my kids have Y.”
What we don’t understand is that our parents were doing the same thing, and the imbalance we experienced was likely a reaction to their parents. We want to avoid reactive, seesaw parenting if we can. It’s good to highlight areas where we think our parents might have missed the mark, but let’s be careful of the pendulum.
So if you grew up in a legalistic environment and didn’t like that, your tendency will be toward permissiveness. If you grew up in a loose household, you’ll tend toward legalism, especially if you became a Christian late in life. We are wise to recognize the extremes and avoid them.
Furthermore, let’s let the Scriptures and the influence of the Spirit of God guide us. And let’s resist the temptation to reactionary parenting based on what we experienced in our own childhoods. Because, like our parents, we’re fallen sinners in need of God’s grace.
Our parenting will have huge gaps. And in twenty years it may be our children sitting on someone’s couch, lamenting the failures of their mother and father. So let’s have some humility.