FeelingBlessed 20 Posted August 24, 2006 Report Share Posted August 24, 2006 (edited) This article was written by our new minister, William O. "Bud" Reeves, and appeared in the August 18, 2006 issue of Arkansas United Methodist: Parenting is a sacred mission, a spiritual trust. If you are in charge of raising a child, as a parent or a grandparent, that is at least part of the reason God put you on the planet. It can bring great joy and great frustration. It's a challenge most of the time, but I can't think of a greater, more awesome responsibility than to prepare a young life for productive adulthood. The Bible is full of wisdom on family relationships. The Fifth Commandment tells us to honor our father and mother (Exodus 20:12). Jesus would often take the children into His arms and bless them; He said they give us a glimpse of the Kingdom of God. He also warned that "If any of you put a stumbling block before one of these little ones who believe in me, it would be better for you if a great millstone were fastened around your neck and you were drowned in the depth of the sea" (Matthew 18:1-6). Paul exhorts children to obey their parents, but at the same time cautions parents not to be harsh on their children, or they will turn away from the right path (Ephesians 6:1, Colossians 3:20). There's always a balance to be struck, and different circumstances call for differing amounts of law and grace. As parents, our role is defined in two words: limits and leadership. We are given the responsibility by God to mark off the field on which our kids can play. Some of the boundaries should be like brick walls -- health and hygiene, proper diet, doing as well as possible in school, alcohol and drug abuse, sexual activity, and spiritual training. Other limits can be more flexible -- extracurricular activities, music and TV and video game enjoyment, curfew. Some things, frankly, aren't worth fighting about -- length and color of hair, neatness of bedrooms, etc. (Can you tell I've raised teenagers?) The limits we set reflect our priorities. If we want to be faithful to our mission as parents, we cannot let our children set the limits. This is not their job; we are the parents. Unfortunately, our culture condones an atmosphere of permissiveness. For years I have heard well-meaning parents say, "My little one just doesn't want to come to [insert church activity here], and I just don't think I ought to make him." Usually this statement is followed by the excuse, "When I was a child, I was forced to go, and I don't want to do that to my children." I always try to be relational in my response, but depending on my mood, I think inwardly, "That may be why you turned out to be a decent human being," or "I guess they made you brush your teeth as well. Have you stopped doing that?" Some things should not be optional for our kids; in our secularized culture, total immersion in church should be one of the priorities. The other L-word is leadership. Setting limits is necessary but negative. Leadership is positive; it shows our children the way they should live. There are three E's to leadership: example, encouragement, and enthusiasm. As parents we lead by example. Our kids watch us more than they listen to us, and they get their real cues from our behavior. If we are not actively involved in church, then it won't do any good to tell our kids they ought to be. We can also lead by encouragement, by praising every little thing they do right or well and by being involved in their activities as much as we can. Within the boundaries that we set, our kids need to know we love them unconditionally and are supporting them 110 percent. Enthusiasm goes hand in hand with encouragement. If we are constantly critical of school or community activities, or if every Sunday dinner includes a course of "what was wrong at church today," how can we expect our children and youth to want to participate? It all works together -- example, encouragement, and enthusiasm -- to provide leadership for positive outcomes. So what is the positive outcome? A friend recently shared with me what a blessing her family is to her. She has two grown children who grew up in church. They are now married and active in other churches. Both have good jobs, and they have given this woman and her husband three beautiful grandchildren. Her face just glowed as she told me, "You just can't imagine how proud I am of them, and how I thank God every day for the way they turned out!" That's the promise of our mission. There are no absolute guarantees, but chances are if we set the limits and provide the leadership and make the spiritual growth of our children a priority, they will become a blessing to us and the Kingdom. To that end we strive! Edited August 25, 2006 by FeelingBlessed Quote Link to post Share on other sites
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