(Whether a parent yourself, or a grandparent, an aunt, an uncle, a neighbor, a teacher, a scout leader, or whatever your role in the lives of the children around you, this important series will give you valuable tips on how to influence those kids for the Lord! To access the entire “Bringing up Kids God’s Way” mini-series, please click here.)
“And you, fathers, DO NOT PROVOKE YOUR CHILDREN TO WRATH, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.” (Ephesians 6:4 NKJV)
Last week, in Bringing up Kids God’s Way, Part 6a, we suggested that one of the best ways to not provoke your children to wrath is the establishment of a nurturing relationship. I recognize, however, that this is easier said than done, especially in today’s fast-paced society; therefore, the first and best piece of advice I can give you towards this goal can be summarized in just three words: Stop, Look, and Listen! Today’s devotional will be focusing on the first step: “Stop”.
Think about it: We can’t possibly know what our kids are going through or how we can help them if we don’t first stop what we’re doing long enough to look and listen!
I have a good friend who recently started a home business. She has a son who I will call James. James is around the same age as my boys, and the three of them have historically been good friends. James is a very talented artist, an interest that his parents have worked hard to cultivate. He is also interested in basketball, an interest that his parents have not, to date, supported.
Because my boys also love to play basketball, there was a time when James was always at our house. James didn’t spend his time solely with my boys, however. In fact, he was known to spend his time talking to–Me!
I sensed a great need in James, and whenever he came over, I tried to take the time to listen to him. As a result, I got to know James quite well, and when he slowly started to change, I noted it immediately. He stopped coming over as often and he didn’t seem to be interested in Basketball anymore. The few times I was with James, I sensed a growing bitterness. If I could get him to talk, the underlying message he seemed to transmit was that he didn’t along with his parents.
I immediately became concerned, but the few times I tried to mention my concerns to James’ mother, she indicated that she hadn’t noticed anything to be concerned about. Then one day, she said to me, almost in a panic, “You know what, Lyn, James has really changed! He’s not the boy he used to be, and I don’t know what to do!”
Where did James’ mother go wrong?
She allowed herself to become so caught up in her own world of work that there was not time to see what her son was doing, let alone try to be a part of his life. She didn’t notice the initial, subtle changes, but behind her back, they continued to grow and blossom until one day she woke up to find a completely different child. She was left asking herself where this bitter, lazy, obstinate specimen of humanity could possibly have come from!
Unfortunately, James’ story isn’t unique. It may not always be work that occupies the life of parents, but there is usually something. Some may let financial worries overtake their lives. Others may forsake their kids for the desire to be with friends, to do sports, to party, or even worse, to drink or do drugs. Still other parents don’t have time to notice the needs of their kids because they are taking in the hockey or football game or there is something else they don’t want to miss on T.V.
But whatever the reason, it isn’t too late! Now is the time to start working on the relationship, and the place to start is by STOPPING!
STOP pursing your own happiness and START making your children #1!
If there is any good that has come out of James’ story, it is that I have learned a valuable lesson. I have historically worked part-time and homeschooled my boys; however with university looming, when the opportunity came for me to take a full-time position, I took it.
Prior to my official “start” date, I had some long conversations with my boys, and I was shocked to learn that their biggest fear was, citing the example of their friend James, that I would no longer have time for them! I immediately resolved to make some changes. I resolved to STOP the things that could, potentially tie up my time! Naturally I had to give up a few things. The television for one. I had to start taking my writing to work, to do during my breaks. I also began getting up earlier in the mornings, and I encouraged my boys to start biking with me almost daily.
Has it been hard?
Has it been worth it?
What has this accomplished for us?
Stopping the pursuit of my own interests and concerns has given me the time to be able to do the next important step: To Look. To look and see where my boys are, what they are doing, and what kinds of interests they are pursuing, what kind of trouble they are going through, what challenges life has thrown their way!
Enough to ponder, friends, but do ponder this: In order to establish that all-important relationship with those kids, we first have to stop pursuing our own interests, priorities and goals, so that we can start making our children priority #1!
Join us next Saturday to find out what “looking” has to do with bringing up kids God’s way in Part 6Bii!
God bless each of you abundantly as you seek to guide the kids in your life in the ways of the Lord!
In His love,
Lyn Chaffart, Author and moderator for the tri-weekly newsletter, The Nugget, and the Scriptural Nuggets website ( www.scripturalnuggets.org ), Answers2Prayer Ministries, www.Answers2Prayer.org , Mother of two teens.
(To access the entire “Bringing up Kids God’s Way” mini-series, please click here.)