Wednesday, July 02, 2014

It is Advocacy in Behalf of Your Kids

I recently read a post by Barnabas Piper over at the Desiring God website. It was not really on parenting, per se, but in a sense. He was discussing being the son of a pastor and in conclusion addressed all parents. My children are hardly “pastor’s kids” but I feel they are expected to behave a certain way in church and so I could relate to what Barnabas was stating. There have been a couple times when a member of the church has either come to me or said something negative to someone else, regarding my children, loud enough to where I could hear it. Barnabas Piper states,
Ed Stetzer shared with me,
I tell my kids that they do not have to live up to the expectations of others — they have to honor the Lord and, while they are in our home, follow our authority. Beyond that, I’m not too concerned about what the church thinks of my kids, and my kids (and my church) know that.
These kinds of statements are what [Pastor’s Kids] need to hear and see played out day in and day out. They need to see that their parents don’t expect different things from them at church than at home and won’t stand for others doing so either. It is advocacy in behalf of your kids and should be spoken of often and lived out always.
(By Barnabas Piper. ©2014 Desiring God Foundation. Website: desiringGod.org. http://www.desiringgod.org/blog/posts/will-you-be-there.)

It is nice to hear that the reaction I felt, when faced by the opinion of someone in the congregation, was just. My children are well behaved…and I discipline them when/if necessary. They listen and follow my instructions which is what matters despite the viewpoint of others (who may have an authoritarian parenting style verses my authoritative one). I should not and will NOT “stand for others” expecting my children to behave differently “at church than at home”. They attend worship and that is very important to me. I will not tolerate them feeling stressed from having to live up to someone else’s expectations!

Fellowship is good for them, too. If that means calmly sitting together with their buddies or standing gentlemanly like next to the wall chit chatting before service begins, that is okay with me. And as long as they are not being disruptive, I feel it should be acceptable to others as well. They are our little men and they are mimicking their fathers. Furthermore, generally speaking, they do a good job behaving. Not to mention, they stand and sing when it is praise and worship time and they bow their heads and pray with the rest of the congregation as directed by the pastor and speakers. I want them to feel comfortable and welcome in God’s house.

Barnabas Piper gives this advice. He writes,
The last big thing pastors can do actually goes for all parents: Focus more on helping your kids cope and process and grow than on shielding them. Coats and hats will keep people warm in the bitter winter, but enough time outside and their noses and toes will be numb. But the warm dry clothes, the blanket, the fire in the fireplace, and the hot chocolate will soothe the coldest of colds. Pastors must be both the coat and the fire, the hat and the blanket.

You can only protect so much, but you can warm and comfort and thaw. Converse with your kids; don’t preach or counsel. Ask probing questions and don’t buy the “I’m fine” stuff; that just means they still have some thawing to do. Stay close to them through every season, no matter how antagonistic or bratty they get; they need you. They need to feel the warmth of your presence, your words, your embrace. You are God’s protection and comfort for your kids.
This is great for me to remember. I have already been through the teenage years with my older kiddos and those years are not too far off for my younger ones. Admittedly, it was tough the first time around, trying to stay on top of everything. And I am sure there will be challenges the second go round. It is my understanding children grow and develop most ages newborn through five and then again during the teenage years. As young children, they do not kick up too much of a fuss…although ages 2 ½ - 3 ½ can be a little demanding. But as adolescents, they can cause quite a bit of a ruckus if they see fit and be ornery buggers. So, I appreciate the message of Barnabas to “stay close to them through every season, no matter how antagonistic or bratty they get”.

When I used to babysit the children of my friends, I would use scripture with all of the children. I had a fabulous “calendar” sized fold out (that was given to me by a friend) that was insanely helpful (which I have not been able to find for many years…I guess I should buy another one). It made addressing the kiddos regarding behavior so much easier!

12Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, 13while evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. 14But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it 15and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:12-17. ESV.)

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