Three weeks ago I went in for my DOT physical to get recertified to drive school bus. Everything looked good. I read the small print toward the bottom of the eye chart, my blood pressure was down and I could walk and chew gum at the same time. I was daydreaming about my larger paychecks this year when the doctor threw a bucket of ice-cold water over me. Because of my stroke, he would not recertify me for at least one year. In an instant my world turned upside down.
It was time for an attitude check. When I flexed my trust muscle with God, would it droop limply like a soggy noodle, or would it imitate a body builder’s bicep and erupt like Mt. Saint Helens? Would I become angry and bitter, or would I turn to God and become better?
In my last post, http://desiretoinspire.life/parental-motto-wear-gods-armor/ I talked about the challenges parents encounter in the face of conflicting ideas from professionals on how to raise their children. Also, many grandparents find themselves either raising their grandchildren or wondering how to be the best support system for their adult children who have kids of their own.
My advice was to, “Put on the full armor of God…so you can resist the enemy whenever he attacks.” (Ephesians 6) Paul tells Christians to prepare, because it isn’t a matter of ‘if’ they will come under spiritual attack but ‘when’. He is warning them and us to be ready.
So every day you do your best to faithfully submit your family over to God. But, as a parent or grandparent, what happens when life throws you a curveball? What is your reaction when Satan unleashes the full wrath of the hounds from hell upon you and your family? How would your attitude be towards God if:
- You have an uncontrollable, intolerable, strong-willed three-year old who won’t behave no matter how much you pray, reason with, spank, give timeouts, threaten, and pray some more.
- The doctor gives a diagnoses for your nine-year old’s neck pain as Leukemia.
- You receive a phone call saying that your teenager, while high on drugs and alcohol, ran a stop sign and killed another driver.
- Your son is arrested on rape charges while away at college.
- You find your sixteen-year old granddaughter unconscious, on the bathroom floor. An empty bottle of your sleeping pills lie beside her on the floor.
As parents, our job is to prepare our children to grow up to be responsible, independent and caring adults. Ultimately though, your children bear the responsibility to accumulate the teaching they have received and apply it to their lives. So what’s the best way we can prepare them?
My son-in-law, Matt, was asked to coach 7th grade boys basketball and he asked me to help him. I love basketball and coaching so I accepted his offer. Seventeen boys tried out to make the twelve-man roster. While we decided not to cut any of the kids, we made it clear that the bottom five players would not receive much playing time.
So for three days Matt and I taught the kids the proper way to shoot, dribble, pass and rebound. We explained the importance of teamwork, hustle and a positive attitude. At the end of the third practice, we took each boy aside and told him if they made the top twelve.
During this process it was important that Matt and I were prepared. It was our job to know the proper way to instruct the boys on how to shoot, dribble, pass and rebound the basketball. We had to model the proper technique for the kids to imitate. If we had displayed a lackadaisical attitude in our coaching, how could we expect anything more from our players?
I was pleased with each boys good attitude. They all took full responsibility for their position on the team. Does it always turn out this way…no, not always. But it sure is nice when it does.
The same principles apply to our parenting. Just as a coach’s job is to prepare his players so they have the best opportunity to win each game, it’s our job as parents to prepare our children to have the best opportunity to succeed as adults in the game of life. Your job description includes:
- Developing a Godly Character: Examples of this is found in Galatians 5:22, “…the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.”
- Valuing Relationship: The heart of God is relationship. He created us for relationship with Him and with each other. After Adam and Eve sinned, a barrier was placed between God’s relationship toward man. God considered His relationship with man to be so valuable, He allowed His only son to die for our sins so that this important relationship could be restored. “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind…and love your neighbor as much as you love yourself.” Matthew 22: 37-39
- Acknowledging Responsibility: Responsibility is understanding that only you are accountable for your own actions. This main ingredient of maturity leads to self-control, confidence from making good decisions, and the freedom to say no to bad decisions.
- Accepting of the Realities of this World: Jesus said, “Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows…” This world is a harsh place to live. If you don’t believe me, sit down in front of your T.V. and turn on the local and world news. What is your attitude toward the truth spewed out from the worlds point of view. But Jesus ended his above statement with, “…but cheer up, for I have overcome the world.” John 16:33
- Showing Grace: Grace is showing mercy and kindness to others when they don’t deserve it. God is our ultimate role-model for grace. Romans 5:20-21 says, “The Ten Commandments were given so that all could see the extent of their failure to obey God’s laws. But the more we see our sinfulness, the more we see God’s abounding grace forgiving us. Before, sin ruled over all men (women and children) and brought them to death, but now God’s kindness rules instead, giving us right standing with God and resulting in eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
Did you notice that your job description doesn’t involve you telling your children about these principles. These five principles are meant for the parents and grandparents. The best way to prepare our children for adulthood is to model these principles themselves.
To be a hero to all children, let us heed the advice given to us by Jesus’ brother. “Do not merely listen to the word and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.” James 1:22 Amen!