What kind of people are being bred and produced in our churches and families. This is a big issue to challenge parents and church leaders.
The big danger we face is of producing those who have an outward conformity to accepted standards, but their heart is not in it. They conform to the standards that are presented to them out of obligation or respect, but if they had their own way they would be doing differently.
The issue is an issue of leadership and teaching. Are we law teachers and demonstrators or grace teachers and demonstrators?
Law teachers basically present the rules and say that if you keep them all will be fine. But if you don’t keep them then things are going to go bad.
Those who teach grace are continually drawing their students into the wonderful news that there is acceptance. Naturally we are wrecked and written-off because of our sin. However, there is acceptance with God though our Lord Jesus Christ who once died to take away our sins. In leading this way we present the true way as a way of delight where we can know that we are with God. In teaching this way we want to draw hearts into an appreciation of how much good God has demonstrated in Christ. We, of course, need to be demonstrators of this. Children need to see that their parents are livers of grace.
As grace is presented in all its richness to our congregations and children then we long and pray for a heart response. Such a heart response will lead to lives that are wanting to go on and know the Lord and live to please God.
They live to please God not just to keep the standards, but because they love the One who gave the standards.
Parents, church leaders and all involved in discipleship must remember this.
It must be noted though that law teaching is not excluded by the need to teach grace. In fact the law if properly handled shows the need of grace. So in that sense the law when used properly is a means of grace.
I Have been pondering upon this scripture from 1 Kings 1:5-6) and its implications for parenting:
Now Adonijah, whose mother was Haggith, put himself forward and said, ‘I will be king.’ So he got chariots and horses ready, with fifty men to run ahead of him. (His father had never rebuked him by asking, ‘Why do you behave as you do?’ He was also very handsome and was born next after Absalom.)
Adonijah was a son who had been allowed free reign by his father, David. David had never challenged him as regards to his behaviour; he had not got involved in his life. This leads me to have the following observations regarding parenting generally and my parenting in particular:
- I need to get involved in the lives of my children. To leave them to their own devices is not an approach I can entertain. To leave them to their own devices can seriously prejudice their development.
- I need to question my children about their bevaiour. This becomes particularly important when they are moving into and on in their teenage years and beyond. When this stage is reached you realize they are no longer those little children you can control through teh imposition of your will.
- The word for “rebuke” has the idea of “grieve”. It is as if David never wanted to upset Adonoijah. He did not want to hurt Adonijah’s feelings by questioning him about his behaviour. This is a trap that is so easy to fall into. For an easy life and, dare I say, to retain popularity with your children you fail to question what they are doing.
- The outcome of Adonijah being left to his own ways was that he developed into a proud young man. The words that he ‘put himself forward And said “I will be King”‘ reveal a man who wanted to see himself exalted. The reminds me of how it is not a matter of indifference whether or not I intervene in the lives of my children. If I fail to get involved I am most likely going to negatively impact their character development.
What motivates you in Christian ministry? Is that I might:
- be complimented on my service?
- Manipulate people to do what I want?
- Gain power over people?
- Win an argument?
- Flog myself so others might admire my exertion?
Paul had one overwhelming motive driving his service and that was love. He says to the Corinthians Christ’s love compels us (2 Cor. 5:14). The Corinthian Christians were being affected by the spurious super-apostles who were urging them to be suspicious of Paul. They wanted to represent Paul as someone who just wanted to bring pain to the Corinthians. Paul says though : For I wrote to you out of great distress and anguish of heart and with many tears, not to grieve you but to let you know the depth of my love for you (2 Cor 2:4).
It is passionate love for the Corinthians that motivated Paul to want to distress them over their failure to deal with sin. Love motivated Paul to get agitated and uncomfortable with the Corinthians. We so often cop out and do not want to get involved with the difficulties of potentially upsetting people. Paul, loved people too much to cop out in such a way
Do I love people enough to risk upsetting them? Love that makes everyone think well of me is not really love at all.
This all applies so very much into parenting as well. If we just want to avoid upsetting our children then we are most likely spoiling them and not loving them.
This post from last week leads me to think about how leaders should demonstrate their leadership in repentance. This is essentially counter-intuitive because the thinking of the world is that you have to prove yourself to be strong and in control if you are a leader. However the godly leader is not of that ilk.
The model of our leadership is a Saviour who was humble and lowly of heart. Now our Saviour never had to repent of any sin. However for us who are weak in our beings and prone to wander from the ways of God there should be the readiness to repent.
This so important because it is how we display the gospel into our family and into our church. Parents and church leaders who are not repenters set a bad example to those under their care. The gospel we affirm, after all, is a message which has its fulcrum in repentance. Gospel grace swings into our lives when there is repentance. Forgiveness is experienced when there is repentance.
So parents and church leaders make sure that you are a leader in repentance. Children and church members who see their leaders ever proving their strength and refusing to face up to their sins are hindered from seeing the gospel clearly displayed before them.
…..of anyone or anything in the church before your children. Your children should never hear you speak negatively of the church of which you are members. You can converse among yourselves as parents or with others, as appropriate and necessary, although you should generally avoid a grumbling spirit. However, in respect of your children they should always know that church is a happy place, a safe place and a place where they build up a reservoir of happy memories.
Speaking ill of the church undermines this. It allows Satan to gain a foothold in their lives. It causes them to be suspicious of others in the church. All this is not good and can undermine the wholesome development of their hearts. You should take every care as a parent so as they have an affection for the church of God. By this they can know it is a good place. Moreover through this they will not be diverted from having their focus on the Lord’s salvation.
Let us not do the devil’s works through our carelessness. Let us not be instruments in the evil ones’ hands to derail our children into the embrace of the Lord’s grace.
One of the great doctrines of parenting today it seems is: “they shall not be bored”. As a result parents fuss and stress over making sure that the children are fully occupied. I am somewhat unpersuaded by this dogma.
It seems to me that it is a very good thing for children to get used to being bored. Through this the children will soon stop being bored. Why will this happen? It happens through the children being forced to take initiative themselves to make their own fun. Games and activities can be spawned from the most limited of resources, when children are allowed, either individually or collectively, to break their boredom through the designs of their imagination.
My parents were busy throughout my childhood, in fact I don’t remember my Dad playing with us. And yet we just got on with doing things.
It would be my conclusion that children develop better when they are forced to make their own entertainment. Imaginations flourish and the ability to take initiative is fostered.
In saying what I have said I do not want to take away from the value of parents doing things with their children. This is a most important aspect of parenting. The thing I do want to speak against is that of a parent being obsessed with doing things with their children.
And lurking in the background is the tendency to default to the computer taking over as the maker of entertainment. Although this can be an appropriate tool for a child’s development, it does have to be monitored so that children make their own entertainment in other ways.