Tuesday, August 26, 2014

One Piece of Advice For Parents In Raising Kids

Any parent knows there's a million things that occur within the parenting realm that go into the process of raising kids. And that's just in one day. I'm no parenting guru, or expert, or someone who knows the recipe for the secret sauce of parenting. But in a quarter-century of being `Dad' to a significant brood of children I've learned a thing or two. Or a million. And there's a million more things to learn.

But I've been thinking about this bit of advice I'm going to share a lot lately as my older kids have hit adulthood and have started making big life decisions. With a million more big life decisions to make. It's been important to me over the last decade for my kids to see how I make decisions. This photo above, taken by one of my daughters last summer of Mt. Ararat, is symbolic of what I'm saying.

If you look at the photo you see this little church in the foreground. It's a lovely, photogenic church that in and of itself is worthy of being the target of your camera lens. Yet it is dwarfed in scale, in beauty, in power, ruggedness and mystery -- the `wow' factor -- by the mountain looming over it. The mountain lends insignificance to the little church, however photogenic and captivating that house of worship may be.

Big life decisions affecting families are like this photo. There may be something seemingly rather small and inconsequential that confronts me on occasion and I can look at it and on the surface think it's not that big of a deal. Or maybe it is something of a big deal, but I don't think of the ripple effects of that decision.

Taking a different job, for example. Maybe the new job is better paying and on the surface seems like a better deal for my family because we'll have more income. Yet what's the price of that increased pay? Is there less time with the family because responsibilities and demands increase in the new job? How do you put a price on that? Will there be more travel or a longer commute that will take me away from my family? Have I weighed the long-term effects on my family of that?

For my family there's been some major decisions that have occurred over the past six years or so, such as quitting my job in Virginia to attend the School of Ministry in Oregon, or planting a church (Calvary Chapel Gloucester), or refusing to let our athletic children participate in travel team sports that compete on Sundays (and would interfere with church). What Julie and I have done as parents is take time to seek the Lord in these decisions and wait on Him to provide the answers. In prayer, in reading the Bible in our daily devotions and in waiting on God is how we have made our decisions, along the way including our older children in that process.

One of the most important things that has occurred is that our decisions have been grounded in Scripture. We have been able to apply to our decisions verses we have come across in our devotions that speak into our lives. Sometimes they just jump off the page at you. Our older children have been able to similarly make decisions. One of the major blessings of that process is that when things have gotten hard and difficult and doubts have crept in about a decision, we are able to go back and stand firmly on that verse, or promise, and know that God is in control and is guiding our path.

Our children not only need to see us make decisions, but see how we make decisions. Look at the life of Jesus. Over and over again in Scripture when you see big things looming in His life you see Jesus agonizing in prayer and it's not uncommon for Him to spend all night praying. What is the process you go through in making decisions? One of my favorite verses is Hosea 12:6 that essentially says to wait on the Lord continually. It's a verse that runs completely contrary to our American culture but is one that I have found is invaluable to decision-making. Wait on the Lord, hear Him out, read His word and let your children in on that process.

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