A new week that’s a little behind. Keep praying for good results as my wife had her biopsy on two nodules behind her thyroid this morning (Tuesday 11/2). We’ll know something next Monday afternoon, but Marriage Monday may be a day late again with the craziness of that day. I apologize in advance, but I thank you guys for your prayers and hanging with us on this.
Anyhow, we are in the final three weeks of a book study of Leslie Leyland Fields’ “Parenting Is Your Highest Calling” And 8 Other Myths That Trap Us In Worry and Guilt. We are on #8 of 9 myths being covered in the book with the last week closing it out. On with today’s myth: Successful Parents Produce Godly Children.
Do you ever feel like your kids have had the best day and that will surely be high angels in Heaven and it was mostly due to the fact that you were perfect in your every assessment of the day? Nah. Me neither. But have you done the reverse. Your child does something wrong and you start to think that you are going to have the next Charles Manson or Casey Anthony or Amy Fisher?
Why do we beat ourselves up this way? Leslie begins the chapter by telling us a story of one of her boys wanting to show love to his sister by buying her a gift and being a dollar short. Knowing that one of his brothers was the tooth fairy dollar giver of the family, he played with a loose tooth until it came out. He then hands the tooth to the brother, blood and all, for the dollar. Sounds very giving, but Leslie laments that her children have now learned to sell body parts for money. That’s usually not a good idea, especially if you are still using said body parts.
But Leslie shares next what many of us as parents go through with a lot of the decisions we make concerning our children. We walk into the mock courtroom (complete with mocking jury) and steadily convict ourselves of not getting it right. Sure, we get the occasional innocent verdict and pat ourselves on the back for a good job. Parents all over torture themselves in this courtroom, because we love our kids. But is this the way we should be working?
Leslie then takes a moment to share how a lot of parents view themselves when children go out the door into adulthood, as winners or losers. If we lose them spiritually (or any other way), we deem ourselves losers. But can we really say that based on the moment they leave?
We then look at the Hall of Famers of Faith of Hebrews 11. These are all people whose faith overcame and advanced the kingdom. But Leslie shows us something here. All of these “winners” had shortcomings in their spiritual world. What I really liked in this section was the showing of Jonathan and Josiah, both whom had horrible raisings and became spiritually great.
A great comment comes on page 172 when we read, “By our contemporary standards, most of these families were dismal failures. They include polygamous family groupings rife with division and jealousy, prostitute mothers, heathen mothers, families with rampant favoritism and fratricide. The only discernable patterns here seem to be those of human sin and error. Yet God transformed their weaknesses into a faith that accomplished his eternal purposes.” So even if we are unsuccessful, if God has them, he will lead them. Does that take the pressure off of us? No.
Leslie then asks a very important question? Does God measure up as a good parent? If we aren’t having to bear that burden of perfection, does God? We are taken through thoughts of the Old Testament. God identifies himself many times as a Father. But starting with the Fall, and even moreso as the Israelites complain in the desert, people are disobedient and God even wishes at points that he never even created humans. Remember Noah and his family survived The Flood, but still the record indicates that God’s children haven’t been very good. That includes us living today. So does this make God any more successful than us at parenting?
Leslie then goes through a thought pattern of relying too much on the focus of us and too little of the focus on God. Then she asks a poignant question. What do we expect?
We have this perception that we are graded by how well the control grip is on our children and that our children are to be finished products at salvation even though we (all people) have shown that we are not. I always remember growing up with the thought pattern of my mother wanting my life to be better than hers and that I want my children to have a better life than I do. But expecting marginal improvement or perfection, either way is wrong.
The chapter’s last two lessons focus on the idea that we need to stop beating ourselves and asking the question of “Are we parenting successfully?” and begin to strive for our best and then ask a deeper question of “Are we parenting faithfully?” Leslie shares the story of Ezekiel having to share the message of judgment to the Israelites as they were taken into captivity. God tells Ezekiel that they will not listen to him because they have not listened to God to this point. How would you feel about delivering a message that no one was going to listen to? And yet, isn’t it perceived at times in that way as we raise our children?
In the final chapters, Leslie tells us that we need to rethink the plan of being successful. She says, “We are not capable of producing perfect followers of Christ, as if we were perfect ourselves. Our work cannot purchase anyone else’s salvation or sanctification. Parents with unbelieving children, friends with children in jail, and the faith heroes of Hebrews 11 are all powerful reminders of this truth: our children will make their choices, God will be sovereign, and God will advance his kingdom.”
So are we to go willy-nilly and say to ourselves that the pressure is off us and totally on God? Absolutely not. We must come to realize a powerful truth as long as we have breath. GOD NEVER GIVES UP ON US!!! God is always going to do his will and pursue so that all may come to know Him. We still have to do our part, whether they totally understand and get it, or not. Then we continue to pray for God to send the right people, the right messages, the right conviction, all at the right time, in God’s Will.
Next week, we look at the last of the myths: God Approves Of Only One Family Design. God is not limited by how perfect our family is. If you don’t have a perfect family, definitely read next week’s Marriage Monday. And if you think you have a perfect family, read anyway and maybe you can give us all some tips.
I love you guys!