Lent 2013, Entry 19
This is the last entry in a series I’m writing is based on a simple idea: Occasionally, I’m reading and praying in Proverbs with “parenting eyes” and blogging whatever comes to mind. That’s the plan, for good or bad. Today, I read Proverbs 31.
Over the course of the school year, I was able to cajole our senior pastor into visiting each of the student ministry small groups. This was a good thing for everybody involved, man. It gave our group leaders a planned week off from preparation time (our leaders generally wrote their own exegetical lessons, so that’s a big week off). It was good for our pastor because he learned to connect with our high schoolers and see our ministry up-close (the best part was that he realized that his pop culture references drew blank stares from our teens–so in Sunday sermons he was more thoughtful–he couldn’t believe they hadn’t seen “I Love Lucy” episodes or couldn’t name all four Beatles). Our teenagers were beneficiaries in that they felt like they had a relationship with their senior pastor and got to glean from his insights up-close and personal…which can be rare in large churches.
One Thursday morning he came in from attending the Senior Girls small group and said he immediately wanted to meet with me for a few minutes.
Apparently, the girls had gotten into a discussion about expectations of women and their role in dating relationships. Now, at that time, there was a lot of publishing directed at female teens that discussed dating and purity and all sorts of spokes off those hubs. They usually found their way to Proverbs 31 somehow.
His question was “Where are they getting this stuff? They’re reading Proverbs 31 and expecting to already BE that type of person. They’re writing lists of practical applications off each line of that chapter. And, they’re heaping a tremendous amount of pressure on a 17-year-old guy to be a ‘spiritual leader’ of a high school relationship. Those traits in that chapter take YEARS to develop. I think that’s almost setting them up to fail with expectations that high at this age…on both sides.”
We talked some about that. A few minutes turned into a long hour of coffee and discussion of what realistic expectations might look like in an age-appropriate manner. I remember us coming up with a phrase to help the young ladies in our ministry that they need to be looking at young men and evaluating if they were “moving toward” being spiritual leadership.
We also talked about how the girls need to be “moving toward” the ideals set forth in Proverbs 31…but to know that it’s okay to take a while.
And we need to be patient with our sons as they grow…because in Proverbs 31 there are a few things there for them to grow towards:
…self-control, especially when it comes to sexual temptation of all types.
…wise to the realities of alcohol (and by extension, drug usage).
…standing up for those who can’t stand up for themselves. Compassion for the oppressed is not something we talk about often, but learning how to care is valuable for young men.
…and to look for a wife who is a rare find. To evaluate on what God values, not what the world does.
Then we have the list of all the things we should teach our young ladies to grow towards:
…she’s pleasant to live with. She’s a good & tireless worker both inside and outside the home.
…she, too, is compassionate toward any who are oppressed.
…at the same time, she’s strong and dignified. (Having two daughters, well, we’ve drilled both of those into ours, man. Maybe we should’ve spent more time on compassion, but they have their moments of that).
…ultimately, a man is to look for a woman who reverences the Lord.
The reality for us as parents is that, at some point, you do have to stop “moving toward” and actually BE a person who has those characteristics.
And, as I think about how to wrap up this series, well, that’s really the crux of raising wise children:
BE a parent who reverences the Lord. And while we touched on a lot of those areas in the 26 other essays, here’s a few reminders from the Bible that I stress in parenting:
Romans 12: 1&2. Are we living a transformed life in front of our kids? Are we renewing our mind with TRUTH rather than the lies (even if they sound good) of the world? Would our kids see our life as a living sacrifice of worship?
Galatians 5:13-26. Are we predictably showing the fruit of the Spirit in front of our children? Are we living the Law of Love? Are we loving with our kids? Joyful in front of them? Patient with them? Kind to them? Good to them? Faithful to them? Gentle with them? Self-controlled in front of them?
Heck, are we living a Spirit-led life in general? Or would they say we’re more driven by the flesh, even if it’s a good thing? I mean, you can give a million dollar gift in the flesh.
John 10:10: Are we living a real & abundant life in front of our children? I’m not talking about going to church and bubbling them in the evangelical subculture. I’m talking about living with joy & passion.
Micah 6:6-8: Is our spiritual walk all for show? All because it seems like the “right” thing to do? Or is it deep and authentic, one in which we do justice, love mercy and walk humbly with our God?
2 Timothy 4: 1-5: Are we somebody who views the temporary stewardship of the blessing of God as a faithful discipline? I’ve used the analogy of a drill sargeant who disciplines his troops relentlessly and repetitively so the platoon can survive. Failure to do so would be the least loving thing he could do. So, do you take great pains to preach the Word even when it isn’t convenient? Do we instruct, reprove, rebuke and exhort with great patience and diligence? Do we speak boldly and with authority in those areas where Scripture does and remain silent when Scripture does? Is the Word more valuable than the World, even in practical terms? Are we self-controlled even when it’s difficult?
Because if we want our children to choose wise & righteous paths…
…as they move toward that ability…
…we need to BE people who’ve come a lot farther down that path moving from ideals to reality in our lives. Because that’s where they’ll get their lessons, parents. Parenting doesn’t give you character, it exposes what’s already there.
Just like Proverbs 31 does.