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.
It is a good principle to exercise in all matters of life, but particularly if you are involved in church leadership. The principle I am referring to here is that you do not rush to respond to a situation that is presented in front of you. It is always best to make sure that you “field” the information about a situation so you can go away and pray and consider. People may be demanding an instantaneous response, but so very often that is just not necessary. Sometimes you have to risk offending people so you can get the space to consider something. Very often that will be through discussing the matter with others.
Quick decisions are very often bad decisions. So take your time. This applies in parenting matters as well and, as I mentioned above, in so many other realms. The principle is stated generally in Proverbs 18:13 where we read To answer before listening– that is folly and shame. We must always listen well, and listen fully, before making a decision.
Now there are, I know, times when decisions must be made. In such times we need to utter a Nehemiah type prayer, (then I prayed to the God of heaven, and I answered the king (Neh. 2:4b-5a)), and look to God for what to do. In doing this we trust that all will be for the best even though we may not have had time to consider things sufficiently.