This series I’m writing is based on a simple idea: Each day, I’m going to wake up, pray and read in Proverbs with “parenting eyes.” Then I’m going to blog whatever comes to mind. This could be brilliant or an epic failure. But that’s the plan. The next set of entries will have to be different as the verses/chapters I’m reading are, as one of my former students referred to them, “Christian fortune cookies.” In other words, two lines of insight with no real connection or continuity among them for nearly 400 verses. So, there will be more smaller entries rather than longer ones and the verses will be pretty much randomly selected as ideas pop into my brain from wherever they are. Today, I read Proverbs 16.
I think it’s in my wiring that I’m okay with not being the boss.
Here’s what I mean: I think I’ve always been okay with the idea that somebody had to be in charge. You know, like, if the teacher didn’t enforce rules then we wouldn’t be able to learn whatever it was we were supposed to be learning. If the coach didn’t run the practice or determine strategy, then the team wouldn’t be any good and we’d lose games. If the boss didn’t set the schedule, no one would rake the sand traps at 6AM or tear the movie tickets on Christmas Day. If the police didn’t write tickets or arrest the bad guys, well, we don’t drive well as a society even when they DO write tickets and the bad guys would take all our stuff…or worse. I guess I inherently understood that.
As an aside, I was pretty good at doing my part for keeping the various authorities in check. Even if I understood why they were there, I also understood the need for checks & balances to keep that authority from being misused. Thank you, USA’s Founding Fathers. Also, thanks to my Founding Mother for some memorable lessons about positive authority.
One that stood out was the Party of the Century that would be taking place in the fall of 1983. A girl in our class had parents that were skipping town for the weekend and rumor had it her older brother was procuring kegs. Even though I didn’t drink during that stage of my life, I understood that this would be the be-all, end-all of social events of the season. My crew were already working vague explanations of our plans to parents.
Now, in our small community, most of the parents knew each other, so plans were frequently double-checked by our folks in casual conversation. My mom would see Jimmy’s mom at the grocery store, and Hal’s mom stopped by on her way home & had talked to Frankie’s parents. So, our parent’s were always comparing notes and usually getting the full story on our plans…so, yes, Frank could drive the family van as we went to the basketball game and Jimmy’s parents were cool with us coming by afterward and hanging out. My mom also told me I was supposed to bring a bag of Doritos.
Anyway, this parental network had surmised fishiness around the Party of the Century. My mom informed me that I’d need to be telling my friends not to be expecting me for the party. She did let me know that if Kim’s mom would call her and explain that there would be adequate supervision then I’d be allowed to attend. This was followed by a reminder that any deviation from the expectations would likely be relayed to her by the same parental network that let her know no parents would be there.
I wasn’t happy about her rationale (which involved all the reasons you’d expect, namely my future plans at risk, parties like that <em>always</em> wound up being busted by police, the reality that even good kids might make bad decisions, etc.) nor her lack of understanding of how democracy worked (she took the Benevolent Dictator approach, while I leaned toward “one-man, one-vote.”). I did understand her logic, I simply didn’t like it because of all the reasons teenagers don’t like being told they cannot attend THE social event of the year…er, Century.
True to form, the party ended prematurely due to an accident. Too many kids on an upper level “deck.” The weight caused it to fall away from the house, which led to a couple of broken collar bones, and an arm and maybe an ankle. Cops. Insurance. Lawyers. It was quite the scandal for a couple of weeks. The anger never amounted to much other than just mad parents rattling sabres, but still.
Because my Mom sat laid out her case, I could obey…even begrudgingly–yes, that’s softening how I really felt. What she never said was, “Because I said so, that’s why.” And, as was most always the case, she was right. She was always quick with, “I know you disagree, but I do love you and am making what I think is the best choice to help you.” Mom was Mom and I was not. Benevolent Dictator, more or less.
Which is kind of the theme of chapter 16.
Verse 1 tell us that we have all sorts of wild ideas…God has all the answers.
Verse 2 tells us that our ways seem right in our own eyes…but God looks deeper into our motives.
Verse 3 tells us that God will make our plans work.
Verse 4 tells us God works everything according to the way He wants it to go.
Verse 5 is crucial…it tells us that God dislikes those that try to do things their own way instead of His way.
In verse 6, we see that we avoid evil if we walk with Him. The implication being that if we don’t walk with him, we will walk in evil, right?
In verse 9, we see that God directs our steps, even if we’re doing the planning.
In verse 11, we see that justice actually comes from God, who balances the scales.
Verse 26 reiterates what we learned in verse 2.
And in verse 33 we see that no matter how the dice fall, it’s really God’s decision…and He will guide our decision-making if we seek Him out.
Sure, there are other little nuances in the verses in the middle, but I want to make sure you catch the overall theme of this:
God is God…
…and we ARE NOT Him.
We think we’re smart. We’ve lived life. We know how the game is really played. We know the score. We know what’s up. We’ll make sure our kids have the benefit of everything we know.
See, to me it’s more scary that WE THINK we’re right.
We all have these ways of thinking that SEEM right to us because, well, we don’t really see “The Deck Wreck” coming. We’re like high-schoolers who only see the social benefits and fun-filled promises afoot.
And, as parents, we need to make sure that we’re constantly evaluating our words, thoughts, actions…
…OUR ENTIRE LIVES…
…in light of His Word. Do we really trust that God is the truly Benevolent Dictator of our children’s lives, or do we have a road-map of how the game is played and we’re going to make sure our kids follow it to the letter?
As we guide our children, are we working toward getting our kids to follow Him on their own and making their faith their own, or are we really just making sure they toe the line and keep from embarrassing us?
Are we the kind of people who show our children how God acts by how we act toward them? My Mom had plenty of flaws, but she was pretty darn good about giving me the reasoning behind her rules as well as that reminder that she loved me, even if she lost popularity points in the Mom poll, albeit temporarily.
Do we really take time to let our kids know that we see ourselves as dependent on Him as we parent? That we’re really only temporary stewards of their lives (more on that in a later entry) with a plan to get them out on their own two feet, using those feet to walk with God Himself and away from our nests?
Do we truly entrust Him with our kids? That phrase is pregnant with meaning.
Because we need to make two things very clear to our children as we parent:
First, God is God, and we, as parents, are not Him.
Second, that God is God, and they are not Him.
And we need to show them that He has their very best interests at heart, because He loves them more than we do, and knows better than we do, and will guide them better than we will.
Because He loves them.
And wants them to have life with abundance, here and now.
Anything short of that is selling God short, and I don’t want to sell Him short in my own life. And I certainly want my kids to experience Him in all His fullness and know Him deeply.
And I pray that I keep remembering that God is God and I’m not Him. I really am okay with not being the boss.