I know you’ve heard songs about it and even sermons about us being the only Jesus some people see. Today, we continue in our book study series of Laura Leyland Fields’ book “Parenting Is Your Highest Calling” and 8 Other Myths That Trap Us in Worry and Guilt. This is myth #6, You Represent Jesus To Your Children.
While I admit that we do have a major role in shaping our children and their character, are we really Jesus to them? That’s a lot of pressure to never sin in front of them, and that is just while driving the car in a busy intersection. There are a lot of people that put on masks, but if we have to put a mask on for our children, it is for sure that we are not living Jesus as we ought. Looking at this chapter will free us from the pressure while telling us the real responsibility that we should have.
I posted the “Hands and Feet” video from Audio Adrenaline because Leslie used it as an illustration to begin the chapter. We wake up in the morning and unlike her, we didn’t get the reminder of how we are supposed to live today and every day. She tells us how the song helps set the mood of the day in her mind and heart as she sings through it while helping to get her children ready for school and the day ahead.
You’ve heard that the road is paved with good intentions and some mornings just like the one Leslie describes goes all wrong. After dropping her kids off at school, she definitely doesn’t feel like Jesus. How many mornings has it happened to me? How many times has it happened to you?
Leslie then asks the question all of us want an answer to, “Why can’t we be Jesus to them? Why is it so hard?” We handle a few, but Jesus took care of thousands and their every need. He gave wisdom as he did it. We want to be able to help every person that we see, but we fail at times. She tells us of a word of one of her favorite pastors to ponder:
He urges moms and dads to take their roles seriously because…”the most fundamental task of a mother and father is to show God to their children. Children know their parents before they know God. This is a huge responsibility and should cause every parent to be desperate for God-like transformation… Will the child be able to recognize God for who he really is in his authority and love and justice because mom and dad have together shown the child what God is like.”
I think how hard that is. I grew up an only child raised by my mom, grandma and assisted by several great aunts. Without dad, I struggled for years to see God as Abba Father because I saw (literally) my own father as absentee and could not see God for anything other than a dream vision far away. My mother always encouraged me to believe, but there was never instruction on HOW to believe.
Leslie admits that she struggles to show Jesus all the time. By day’s end, she and probably most of us are running dry on sympathy, love and healing touches. She admits that she longs for rest and healing herself. I know I am that way as well. I wish it was as easy as eating a good meal to get the energy level back up to be spiritually giving.
A comment that Leslie makes on p. 133 of her book floors me. “A child’s emotional pattern is set by the time he is two years old.” As a stay-at-home dad, that is tremendous pressure to think about how Megan, James and Maggie all react to me. My son is very laid back like me, but my oldest daughter, Megan, is very forward. I think her emotion came with my feelings of nervousness of doing a “right” job with her. Being the first child and to a dad that barely even held babies before she was born, she is always cautious to make sure she is doing the right things. So far, I see the statement as true. Maggie is still being shaped and I think she will also be more laid back, even though the three of them can be pretty destructive to the toy room.
Leslie then asks if this “character of Christ” is accomplished by us or Jesus. My feeling it is more of a mixture. The reason I say that is that when we are showing the heart and mind of Jesus, we are making God’s job easier. We can also be a setback if we too often don’t act like Jesus.
We then go into a section of stating that we cannot be Jesus, we can only need Jesus. Leslie stresses the scripture of Matthew 18 and 19 that we are to become like little children to enter God’s kingdom. We as parents have to come to an understanding that we don’t have all the answers. I remember the first year of my Megan’s life. I questioned everything. But with James and Maggie, I became confident and sometimes make mistakes because I take the George Lopez attitude of “I Got This.” We begin to rely on our own smarts and history. The truth of every child being different doesn’t make this any easier. I know with the later kids, I began to put the stick up of “This is when Megan did it.” James didn’t meet many of the same bars at the same time because boys historically are slower to develop. That drove my wife and I batty at times and it took great wisdom from parents that had been there to tell us that he was going to be fine.
Leslie closes the section with a great line. “We never replace Jesus in our children’s lives. We don’t even do the work of Jesus in our children’s lives. We do the work of parents, which is to point our children to Jesus.” We do our part in reading to them and talking about God with our children, but we also have great Sunday school teachers, good classmates to be friends with and give our best attempt to place them in front of people that are living and doing the work of Jesus so that they can learn also by example.
Then Leslie goes through a section of talking about people that take on the mantle of servant hood a little too much. This tends to balance toward women because of the verses to submit to their husbands. But God calls men to love their wives as Christ loved the church. Men should bare the burden of their children as much as the women and this servant hood must be kept in balance so neither parent loses themselves in that servitude.
We then see the tale of two servants, Mary and her sister Martha, in Luke Chapter 10. Martha was doing noble work, taking care of the throng of people in her home. But Mary was sitting at Jesus’ feet, taking in the Word of God. Jesus told Martha that he would not take the opportunity from Mary. The service that Martha gave was temporary, that day. The Word of God would be of service to Mary for a lifetime. It’s interesting to think how many of us as adults get the two backwards. We want to serve Jesus so badly, but not take the time to be instructed by the Holy One.
The closing thought on this is that we still need to teach our children to serve. We don’t want to allow our children to just take in from the pews. They do need to learn how to serve. That way they can get the vision of seeing Jesus being lived through them. That way, they can meet Jesus in a variety of ways and understand that while we are the primary instructors of our children and their life, we are only part of the Jesus that they will get to know and fall in love with.
Next week, we take on a tough myth. When our children are born, we can’t help to see how cute and adorable they are. We can’t ever envision a day in which we will not love this bundle of joy. So are there days that we won’t always feel the love for our children? We’ll explore that next Monday.
I love you guys!