Monday, June 05, 2006

Gifts or Idols? Part III

Question number 3 from my earlier post asked, "That purpose (as in the purpose determined in Question #2) will be borne out in how we go about raising our children. What, exactly, is our parenting methodology?"

So much of the answer to this question depends on your answer to question number 2. In fact, the answer to this question will often reveal the true answer to question number 2, in spite of the answer one may officially give.

A parent who looks at the goal of raising children "to be successful" will typically view his children as little empty vessels in which to pour information in hopes that it will stick. He wants to expose his children to as much of this world as possible so they can "experience" it so as to help them determine where they want to go in life. He wants his children to experience and have fun all the way through get as much done as possible...before becoming tied down with a family. In short, he is focusing on his children's happiness and in a round-about way, his own reputation as a parent. He views "education" as an end in and of itself because it supposedly makes his child "successful." There really isn't a definition of what "successful" is, but the more "education" his child can get certainly contributes to that "success."

On the other hand, a parent who sees his child as a gift on loan from God, a child who was placed on this earth with a specific purpose, will approach parenting in a wholly different manner. He will search out the Scripture for wisdom. He will train up his child in the way he should go (Proverbs 22:6) by teaching him the things of God and training him to be a sage. Wisdom at a young age is quite uncommon in our world, but it isn't impossible with proper training and discipleship. I once read in an article by Chris and Ellyn Davis of "The Elijah Company", that the Hebrew word translated "...the way he should go..." is only used a couple of times in the entire Old Testament, the other being in describing the purpose of the Temple. It has connotations of being created for a specific purpose. "The way he should go" is not to be determined by the parents' dreams and desires placed upon the child. Instead we as parents must study and interact with our child, determine his "bent," and then continue to build him in that direction. Since we understand that God will not act contrary to His Word, we should ensure that the Scriptures are consulted for boundaries and directions. For instance, a young boy should not be channeled toward a career that would keep him from being able to disciple his family one day. From God's view, the development of future generations is far more important than any career one could have.

Scripture doesn't encourage us to educate or raise our children according to the scope and sequence of the world. It does set priorities for us by showing us clearly what God values. I enumerated on several of these in a previous post, but here I would like to focus on wisdom. God values wisdom. It is clear in the Proverbs that wisdom is a thing to be prayed for, to be sought after, to be prized. The word "knowledge" in the Proverbs is usually just a synonym for "wisdom." The world has more than enough "smart" people, but very, very few who are actually wise in the ways of God. A generation of Christian children raised in godly wisdom could easily send a massive shockwave through the kingdom of this world!

So before one even considers the particular giftings God has for a child, a parent can rest assured that if he trains him in the ways of Scripture, teaching him doctrine, while helping him learn to wisely apply Scripture to his daily walk...that parent will be right in the center of God's will for his child.

Back to the question: what parenting methodology should one use? I think the answer is obvious. Parents should first and foremost strive for holiness in their children, for children who love the Lord with all their hearts, minds, souls, and strength. That absolutely must be primary. Fathers should be taking the lead in this discipling, with the mothers helping out and standing in his stead when he cannot be there. Once this discipling in the ways of the Lord is firmly established, a discerning judgment should be made as to each child's particular temperament, strengths, gifts, etc. Then mold that child accordingly, helping to guide him into adulthood in all wisdom and grace.

So which of these options happens in your home? The answer to that question gives light to the real answer to question number 2 in your home, for to raise our children in the general way described at first is to raise them as self-absorbed humanists. To raise them as described in the latter portion of this post is to raise them as wise Christians who will glorify God with their lives.

Which will it be?

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