Are You Parenting to Please Everyone?

By: Jill Briscoe

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.

Jill Briscoe is the Founder and Executive Editor of Just Between Us magazine.