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Saturday, May 27, 2006

Compromising Convictions For Maturing Children

Pr 22:6 - Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, you may have to alter your standards in order to say he has not departed from it.

Oh, I’m sorry I got it wrong. Please excuse me. Pr 22:6 - Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.

There is that better?? No?? Why not?? Oh, you do not believe that. You think there are exceptions to that? So in fact you actually like the second rendition but live by the first.

I don’t mean to be arrogant Lord knows I have absolutely no room for arrogance. It is not about arrogance it is about truth. It matters little how people are affected by it, myself included. Truth is intended to cause us to feel open and naked before the eyes of him with whom we have to do. If we feel a little naked and vulnerable at times that is not a bad thing. It is an uncomfortable thing but not a bad thing.

I know this verse is one that is a source of great consternation for a good many people. I know there are those that say great parents can produce terrible kids. I don’t agree, mainly because I don’t believe the Bible agrees. This is a classic example of where we tend to allow our experiences to determine Scripture instead of allowing Scripture to determine our experience.

There are some things I have come to believe about the child rearing process.

Parents will give account for their child rearing.
Parents will not give account for their children’s decisions.
Children will give account for their decisions.
Children will not give account for their parent’s parenting skills.
There are no perfect parents.
What is good enough to establish one child may not be good enough to establish the next.
The scripture is clear; if we train them in the way they should go they would not depart from it.
I have no interest in altering the words of this verse by my interpretation even if the words end up condemning me.
We should not be surprised when bad kids come from good families we should be surprised when good kids come from any family.
Yet, I also believe that we can raise our kids with confidence that they will love and honor God and live for him and walk in the ways that we have raised them.

Proverbs 22:6 is meant to provide hope. It is meant to convey to us that it is worth the effort, the energy, the sacrifice to get the job done right. It may be hard; there will be some bumps along the way, but due diligence here pays off. It is worth it to stay after it. Having three grown children two of which are married and one that is still at home I can bear testimony to two things.

There will be some bumps along the way, sometimes some big bumps.
It is worth staying the course.

You see the problem with bumps is they tend to cause us to lose control. Especially if the bump is high, hard or we hit it at a high rate of speed. If we lose control it is easy to be diverted from the proper course. The bumps are going to be there. Every child will have them to one degree or another. How we handle the bumps will determine the final destiny of our children. Far too many hit a bump and the course is slightly altered and they simply accept the alteration as the way it must be. But none of us do that in our automobiles. If we hit a bump and the wheel shifts to left or right so that we are moving off course we take corrective measures to get the car back on a true course. Many seem to be unwilling to do that with their children, especially adolescent children. It easy to scare toddlers and little boys and girls, but somewhere along the way, parents, even Dads, become afraid of their kids. This is an unhealthy relationship and the child will actually suffer the consequences of such an arrangement.

Parents are slow to admit that they were inadequate, that they made some fatal mistakes, when their children go astray. Instead of examining the failure in order to learn from it, they justify the child to save face. Nothing should trouble us more than to see even the slightest moral decline in our children. Our desire should be to see children that exceed us in holiness and piety. A couple of generations of slight moral decline and it is not long before you are looking at wholesale apostasy. I have now lived long enough to see this very thing happening before my eyes. Yet, instead of parents holding the line when it comes to standards with their maturing children, they forsake the standard so they won’t lose the child. Not realizing that when the child abandons your standards, you have lost the child. The child is not what you intended for them to be. Many pride themselves on their children staying true, when in fact they have not. When they tested the limits the parents, particularly the father, gave way. He failed to be a father, a leader, instead he became a pacifier for a quickly maturing child that was in desperate need of some strong leadership.

I know there is a tendency for parents to lower their standards when they realize their children are not inclined to live up to those standards. I have seen it with my own two eyes. It is a temptation that I am painfully familiar with. In lowering their standards they can continue to talk about what great kids they have even when they are living at odds with their upbringing. They are fooling no one except the absolutely unobservant. I determined a long time ago that if it is wrong, then it is wrong no matter who is doing it. If my own child slips into worldliness, worldliness is still an ugly thing. It has not been sanctified because a good kid is involved in it, my kid. A good kid is not a worldly kid. If our children become worldly in their dress, speech, music, appearance, entertainment, etc. we should not take a more lenient view of worldliness but a less favorable view of our children. If my children are worldly, then they are not godly. There is no place where we want to have it both ways like with our own children.

Parents take strong stands and then as their children get older they relax the standards because they are being tested more severely by their adolescents. These relaxed standards are justified by many as growth, understanding, letting go, maturity, and a host of other terms. In the Old Black Book it is compromise. Dads, instead of showing some backbone, become a jellyfish and they cease to be the standard setters in their very own home. Oh, but the kids are happy, and we have a great relationship all at the expense of truth and righteousness. The fact is there are way to many Dads who fear their adolescents more than they fear God. The Bible reminds us that the fear of man bringeth a snare. They snort, and stomp, and bluster, and pontificate, but in the end the adolescent goes their way and does their thing. Dad is seen as a hysterical, irritable, grouch and the adolescent is deprived of the privilege of having someone with enough courage to stand up and say, Son (daughter) this is not the way it will be in my house. You will not dress this way. You will not talk this way. You will not listen to this music. You will not go to those places. You will not spend time with those people. But it’s convenient for Dad. My children have not rebelled, is that so. Have you crossed them about anything? Have you stood true to your convictions when push came to shove or did you cave? Too many cave.

I have observed that often times it is the oldest child. Which by the way I believe there are reasons for that. If the devil can get the first in a long series of children and the parents deal lightly and make allowances for the child the devil almost automatically gets the rest of them by default. Why, because the parents loses the moral authority to set standards. The child has been allowed to set the standards in order to maintain the fellowship. The Dad relinquished control over his own home, in order to appease a child that he had not effectively won to his cause and standards. Shame!!

The fact of the matter is that for most parents their fellowship with their children is more important than convictions and truth. Come on folks, we all know that there is no fellowship expect around truth. Seems like I read somewhere, at some time, how can two walk together except they be agreed? We cease to make an issue out of our convictions in order to maintain fellowship with a child who has departed. They haven’t departed? Well, sure they have. They may still be living in your home. They may still be eating at your table. They may still be sleeping in your bed, but they have departed. They are not living according to the standards you raised them to have. So instead of requiring submission from the child, we alter the standard. Shame! The message we send is that what I believe is not all that important. You are more important than truth, and this is the wrong message to send. You say they won’t submit, they will fly the coop. If they won’t submit, they have already flown the coop in their heart. Your pacifying them and making allowances for them simply allows the child to make a chicken coop out of your sanctuary.

This is nothing more than a plea. Dad be a man. Your kids are counting on you to take a stand, show the way, to manifest the reality that truth cannot be compromised for anyone, and that you love them so very much that you would never compromise on their behalf.

And if it seems like it is turning out really bad, don’t get scared, I say this as one who has been really scared before. When your convictions are tested, when your faith is tried, stand tall and in doing so you will establish that fact that before you are anything you are a man of truth and that cannot be sacrificed on the behalf of anyone, and that in fact it is upon that basis that you have the means whereby to bless others.
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