Monday, October 11, 2010

Are You Parenting to Please Everyone?

Dear Friends,

Down through the years I have wrestled more with the fear of other Christians’ disapproval than with anything else, leading me to attempt to be all things to all people. Some people are so quick to “know it all” and tell others how they should be living the Christian life, ordering their family relationships, bringing up their children, and conducting their ministries that they forget Jesus told us not to judge – that we should cast out the plank in our own eye before we start scratching out the speck in our brother’s!

How often have I heard mature Christians waxing eloquent about clergy and missionary parents who “ruin” their children by neglect – by sending them off to boarding school or not spending any time with them. Now, I know some children of couples in full-time ministry don’t make it, but then some children of car salesmen and lawyers don’t make it either! I would want to know the dynamics of the relationship of a particular troubled family before I would even dare voice a suggestion as to what may have gone wrong.

Missionaries and ministry workers are ordinary people living in extraordinary circumstances – called to do extraordinary tasks with very little help and less than adequate resources. By and large they do a wonderful job, but they would be much more effective if we who support them (and therefore think we have the inalienable right to criticize them) would pray more and try to think of practical ways to unload their boats for them once in a while! It is a very heavy burden to be told continually, “Your children will never make it – they will grow up to reject the Lord!” Sometimes I used to get the feeling that those giving us this “loving counsel” would almost be glad if that did happen to our kids – because then their opinions would be vindicated.

Even now, with our three children grown and in ministry, I have on occasion been told, “Well it was obviously the grace of God, despite what you did to them that brought them through!” Now undoubtedly there is a lot of truth in that; it was certainly by the grace of God that they turned out so well. But I have come to realize that no one does it all right – and no one does it all wrong, either. We mustn’t demand that all Christian families live according to this formula or that, but try and encourage each family to find out their formula from Him and fulfill it. The important thing is to please God first – then you’ll know what He wants you to do.

In His Joy,
Jill Briscoe
Executive Editor
Just Between Us Magazine

2 comments:

  1. Little Samuel adored his mother. His mother who trained up her child in the (specific) way he should go. And when he was old he did not depart from it. Also Moses. The thing is ...we are not to compare ourselves to others. We are to look to the Bible to see what examples of parenting God shows us for each child. And to see the dirt on our own faces. I'm grateful that God heals us mom's hearts. And transforms our stinking thinking as we hide God's Word in our hearts that we sin not against Him.

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  2. My siblings and I are examples of how the Lord blesses parents who obediently follow His leading. Sending us away to boarding school was one of the most difficult things our missionary parents did, but they did so obediently, trusting the Lord to provide for each of us. Never once did I sense bitterness from them. It wasn't until much later in my life, after all of us had graduated from high school, that I learned from them how painful it was for them to watch us kids board the plane for school each semester. Because of their deep trust that the Lord was caring for us no matter how far apart we were, I was able to truly look forward to school, my friends and teachers, events and places. I still think back to that place as one of my heart homes. The relationships I built there run deep and true. Like you said, Jill, no parent is perfect, but there is something about the faith of my parents as they trusted the Lord with us then and through our adult lives that has taught me to trust the Lord deeply as well. Thank You, Lord, for blessing me with parents who trust You with what is most precious to them.

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