First, I would like to say that my kids are gems. Anything that is wrong with them is my fault and anything right with them is all because of Jesus. 🙂 So the story begins…
We host a home church on Sundays and this morning (gasp!) it was actually cleaned with some time to spare before people started showing up! So off the kids went to sled in our backyard, which is out of earshot, and they took a watch with them, being told to be home at 11 a.m. sharp.
10:54 a.m. Abi walks up the back steps with the watch and no brothers.
Me~ “Abi, did you take the only watch they had so as to know what time it was?”
Abi ~ “Yes, I am sorry.”
Me ~ “Did you tell them it was close to time before you came back with the watch?”
Abi ~ “No, I am sorry.”
She had already taken all her snow clothes off, and was clad in bare feet and shorts. Now she had to get her boots back on and walk all the way back down to the sledding hill and call the boys in. They all got in at 11:02.
While she was gone calling them in, I was doing dishes and asking God about it. The point was not just that she forgot. What the Holy Spirit said to me was some of the best parenting advice I had ever heard:
Teach them to be “careful to obey”.
We, as parents, must teach and discipline our children to be careful to obey us. There needs to be a healthy respect and urgency which, even when they are in the midst of having fun, causes them to remember to obey. My children should have a blast riding down that sledding hill! But in the back of their minds there should be the thought, “I wonder what time it is? I need to make sure that we are back when Mom told us we needed to be home.”
You see, I have been a little slack in this area of parenting recently. Important things that I have asked them to do are forgotten, or things are left half-done…because I have failed to diligently train them to be careful to obey. Completely. Quickly. Cheerfully. They are great kids, and I firmly believe this is my issue and I will do better. Lazy parenting does not honor God, and when our children are not properly trained~the buck stops with us as parents. It is not their fault that we yell. It is ours. If we aren’t willing to “train” them how to do something, then we have no right to get mad when they don’t do it our way, or even do it wrong. If we don’t follow through with making sure they have obeyed (and giving appropriate consequences when they don’t), then we can’t get upset at the lack of concern on their part to actually do what we say! There is a phrase I heard once which I really like. The woman challenged us to:
“Parent on your feet.”
Now, when they get older and start making adult decisions, and we change from being “obeyed” as parents to being “honored”, then my training job is (mostly) over. 😉 One day it will not be John and I that they obey…it will transfer to Jesus. How have I guided them into the joy of submission now? It will serve them well then. When they are on their own and following Jesus without our authority over them. But until then we have a job to do.
What came next to my mind was this question, “Oh God, where have I not been careful to obey You?”
I have children, but I am still His child. The same rules apply to me that I hope to instill and nurture in my children: namely, obedience to God. I am going to spend some time tonight in His presence, asking Him to reveal to me any way that I am not being careful to obey right now. Maybe there was something He told me to do a long time ago and I have failed to obey…maybe I have even forgotten! I trust Him to reveal it to me and I pray that, when it is revealed, I will be…careful to obey.
“…diligently listen to and obey the voice of the Lord your God, being careful to obey all of His commandments…” Deuteronomy 28:1