Wednesday, May 18, 2011
“You have placed our iniquities before You, our secret sins in the light of Your presence” -Psa. 90:8
There has been so much focus this past month on the flooding in the Midwest and along the Mississippi River. We had major flooding here in the Ozarks and down south, the people of Louisiana are bracing for the onslaught of water. As we’ve seen on the news, some of the levees have held well while others have failed. Of course, they don't fail all at once. The flaws are usually hidden. They are secret. They fail gradually. The leak begins and widens and, unless repaired, creates a breech in the levee itself.
Parenting can be leaky too. Moms and dads all have the best of intentions. We start out fully prepared to hold back the waters that attempt to disrupt our role as parents, but the leaks develop inside and sometimes they flood our parenting world.
Busyness. This leak develops slowly. We have every good intention to focus time on our kids’ activities and interests, but the pile at work never seems to grow smaller. “If I work more hours, then I can provide more for the family,” we rationalize, and the “sweat of the brow” begins. We miss a few soccer games but we promise our wife and son “I’ll be at the next game.” “Dad, we had our last game yesterday,” says our son and the opportunity is lost forever. Blink again and that same son is off to college. Busyness. Listen to your spouse or a best friend. Heed their advice that no amount of money can replace that track meet or recital. If that leak develops, fill it quickly and let someone you love help you.
Comparison. Another leak that starts early and can damage the levee is looking at other families and measuring success (or failure) by how they are doing. The leak of comparison is always damaging. Sure, learn from other families, but don't compare. It only produces envy, strife and slander when I keep score with other families. I put undue pressure on my kids to “stay ahead of the Jones’s.” We forget that it’s my family being what it’s supposed to be before God and not being better than the family next door. When we’re feeling envious, we need to plug up the hole with the assurance that my worth is in Christ, not in how my family performs.
Inert marriage. This might sound like a strange leak, but our effectiveness as a parent is tied directly into the health of our marriage. Of course, single parents can do a tremendous job with kids. But a struggling family is often (not always) a by-product of a poor marriage. A leaky marriage needs help and needs it now. Otherwise, kids will take on the stress and difficulty and live it out in their behavior. Be honest and real about the condition of the levee. If it needs repairing, get it repaired.
Spiritual complacency. This might be the most important. The engineers say that the most important part of a levee is the foundation. The top of the levee may erode a bit, but if the foundational part of the structure is solid, the levee will hold. Even if the levee looks good on the outside, it will crumble if the right kind of hidden material is not holding it together. That’s why it’s so important that we, as parents, are providing that foundation in our parenting. If we’re parenting with our own feeble strength, then the foundation is shaky at best. Jesus invites us to lean on Him and He will be our strength and guide. Being prayed up and fresh in our relationship with God provides the foundation for consistent and loving parenting.
Pray for wisdom and discernment. Pray for eyes that will recognize leaks and initiative to have them plugged. Engineers say that every levee has small leaks. No levee is perfect. But damaging leaks need to be repaired. Be a parent that is willing to continually learn and grow.
And a parent that is willing to get your feet wet.
By Eric Joseph Staples ©