I remember reading a story about a dad who had a green thumb; you know, one of those guys who can grow anything in his garden, making it beautiful. He took great pride in his gift and he should have. He also had a loving wife who appreciated his gift and a ten-year-old son who was . . . well . . . a ten-year-old son.
On this particular Saturday, the dad was passing on his gift to his son on how to care for the yard. We call it mowing the grass. For several Saturdays the son had ridden with the dad on the riding lawn mower as dad carefully allowed the young boy to steer the mower. But today, today was his solo run. Driving the mower solo for the first time was big for this ten-year-old because . . . well . . . he was ten years old. He had learned his lessons well. As dad supervised from the front porch, the young protégé made his dad proud: focused and attentive.
It was at that moment that mom stepped on the front porch to see how things were going and to ask if anyone needed refreshment. Dad bragged and the ten-year-old waved, proud as a peacock. That moment of distraction was unfortunate, for the inexperienced driver ran the mower right through the center of a previously gorgeous bed of spring flowers.
For a moment time stood still: the ten-year-old braked and looked up in horror; dad lost his color; and mom, the distraction, laughed. Then she leaned toward her husband’s ear and said, “Remember, dear, we are raising a child, not flowers.”
This mom got it right. The value of the child is far greater than the value of a bed of flowers, or the worth of a perfectly ordered room, or any other personal preference we might have.
Here’s what we must remember. God made people in His image. That includes us. That includes our children.
Let’s start with us. 1 Timothy 3: 4 “He (an overseer) must be one who manages his own household well, keeping his children under control with all dignity.” Those last three words (with all dignity) create a challenge for us. Learning to keep our dignity as we control our children calls us to the standard of being in God’s image, representing God the Father in what we do as parents. Controlling our reactions, choosing our words, governing our tone of voice: these things add up to communicate who we are, and who God is, to our children.
The clearest picture we have of what God the Father wants us to be like is Jesus. He is the “exact representation of the Father’s nature.” (Heb. 1:3) I encourage you to prayerfully read the book of Luke with the idea of seeing how Jesus “fathered” the disciples. He is the source of our dignity. Read the gospels as a parent who wants to “catch the spirit of Christ.”
Now let’s get to the kids. Jesus respected kids. He made room for them. He did not let them lead, but he did not push them aside. He did not let them direct his schedule, but he made them a part of his schedule. He gave them his attention in the same way that he gave adults his attention. He embraced them.
Remembering that our children are made in God’s image will help us to lead them with God in mind.
We’ll have to pick up on this next week.