A couple of weeks ago I sent my husband a pathetic email. It went something like this:
[A long paragraph here about how I think I’m ruining our children.]
You see, that day I was feeling particularly incompetent. Our youngest son was struggling with one of the questions in his 10th grade grammar book. I ended up having to tell him, “I’m sorry, I can’t figure it out, either. Just skip this one.” You should’ve seen the look on his face. That wasn’t the first time that has happened, but usually it’s math that has me stumped. I felt unqualified and unequal to the task. I wanted to quit. Thankfully, my husband knew exactly what to say to encourage me and that made all the difference. He reminded me of the big picture, our end goals, and the fact that I can rely on God for help even when trying to figure out 10th grade grammar. I’m grateful that I don’t have to be brilliant to homeschool my sons!
Have you ever found yourself unequal to a task? Do you say no to opportunities because you feel like you’re the wrong person for the job or you’re not good enough? Perhaps someone asked you for parenting advice and all you can think about is how you’re still trying to figure it out yourself. Perhaps someone asked you to teach a Bible class, but you’re all too aware of your spiritual weaknesses. Or perhaps someone asked you to speak about your Christian walk and you feel like a hypocrite because you know you’ve messed up, hurt others, sinned big time. The truth is perhaps you’re not qualified, but God is. We can help others because He helps us. We make mistakes and don’t always know what to say or do, but we can rely on God’s wisdom and strength to tackle a task anyway (1 Chron. 16:11; Psa. 31:24; 2 Cor. 12:9,10). I’m glad I don’t have to be perfectly sinless to shine the Light!
By the way, here was Neal’s reply to my whiney email:
[A long paragraph here filled with sweet encouragement.]
Prayer for Today: May I never let doubt or discouragement keep me from serving You, Lord.
In 2011, I was given an assignment to interview a Christian parent. Having three sons myself, Sister Butt seemed an ideal candidate. Stan and Sheila Butt have brought up three sons in the training and admonition of the Lord (Eph. 6:4). She graciously allowed me to share this interview here on my blog. It is encouraging to see a mother who has successfully raised boys to grow into faithful men, active in the Lord’s church. All three of her sons preach the gospel!
*Besides your spouse and the Almighty, who was the most helpful to you as you trained your children spiritually? In what ways?
The body of Christ had the greatest influence on our children. When Stan Jr. was in law school at Emory University, he wrote an article describing the church’s influence on his life. He said the church made him a stronger person. We often had Bible teachers, preachers, and missionaries into our home whom we greatly credit as having influenced the spiritual growth of our children.
*Were there any book or articles you read that were a help?
Next to the Bible, I enjoyed Dr. Dobson’s book “Hide or Seek.” This book describes the importance of building a child’s self-esteem. However, I soon realized that it is more important for a child to have “Christ-esteem.” For a child to say, “I can do anything” is one thing; for a child to say, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” is quite another. That child will have the proper respect for God and will also develop humility and compassion. Many children with high self-esteem will never develop those characteristics.
*Did you have any specific technique or persistent plan that you utilized through all of the children’s training?
We believed consistency was key to effective biblical training. We gave three answers, “yes,” “no,” or “I’ll think about it,” and did not feel we needed to justify every answer. When our sons were young, we held them close. When they grew into teenagers, we gave them more responsibilities and let them have input into the decision making process. In addition, we were consistent with Bible quizzes at bedtime and prayer. The quizzes took place during our nightly devotionals, and helped build their basic Bible knowledge. The prayers were daily and out loud. They knew our hearts and we knew theirs in the presence of God. The practice of this blessing cannot be overemphasized.
*Besides potty training and the Terrible Two’s, what was an unusually hard time for you as a parent? How did you get through it?
We did not experience the Terrible Two’s because our children learned to obey and were not allowed to be “terrible.” We felt that being two years old was no excuse for misbehaving. As a result, we enjoyed every year of our children’s upbringing. I admit, though, that the most difficult stage was when our sons started driving. It was hard not to think of all the bad things that could happen. I had to trust in God, and my children, and pray they would make good choices.
*What is your favorite memory as a parent?
My favorite memories were the days each of our sons decided to put on Christ in baptism. The only thing that compares was watching our oldest son baptize his own daughter into Christ.
*If you could do anything over again in training your children, what would it be?
Stan and I discussed this question together and we feel we can honestly say we have no regrets. We readily admit that we were not perfect parents, but we used Deuteronomy 6 as our child-rearing guide. We spent time with our boys, and made each decision in view of eternity. Our children knew we loved the Lord more than anything else in this world. We can only say that God has made up for our imperfections, and we are eternally grateful to Him for that! To Him be the glory!
*Your children are faithful Christians, and even serving God in mighty ways. What would you tell other parents to do to achieve the same results? What do you consider the greatest factors in their upbringing that led to this?
Instilling love for the Lord in your children is the greatest factor in bringing up faithful children. They should love God above all else, even their parents. Children should recognize that every talent or ability they have is God-given. And parents should pray that their children will use their talents to serve their Lord and fellow man.
*What do you see as the biggest mistakes parents are making today?
I am saddened by children who are not made to obey simple commands like, “Come here.” I am sad when parents call their children ugly names like “little fool.” I am sad when parents are paralyzed by the wild behavior of their children. I am sad when I see parents so busy giving children what they didn’t have, that they don’t give them things they did have (which were much more precious)! I am sad when I see parents taking their children to worship, but neglecting to give any Bible training at home. I am sad when parents care more about their children’s physical appearance than how their heart appears to God. I am sad when parents are more interested in homework from school than in ‘heartwork’ from the Word. And I am so sad when we spend more time at the ball field than on the battlefield for Christ. It makes me so sad to see parents who are much more concerned with what goes into their children’s mouths than what comes out of them. I am afraid that the prince of this world has managed to confuse many parents about what is truly important. The effect of this may only be realized on the day of judgment. I pray that the Lord will open the eyes and hearts of young parents and give them the courage and the backbone to be parents whose children will glorify God!
Amen! She added some extra thoughts on parenting in general:
There is only one way of raising children and that is with prayer, the wisdom of the Word, and the determination to do the very best one can to shoot those arrows in the right direction. That takes intention, practice, and faith in the Word.
Prayer for Today: Thank you for successful mothers like Sheila Butt. May we learn from her wisdom and experience.
They’re everywhere. Devices like iPhones, iPads, cell phones are in use all the time in every place. Everyone in my family has them, too. We have basic rules and guidelines in place, but I was especially impressed with a list I saw by Janell Hoffman. She gave her son an iPhone, and a list of 18 rules she created to go along with it. I started typing up a copy to print off and give to each of my sons, making slight adaptations as I went to remove one cuss word and to make it more of a Christian approach. I also added a few Scripture references. Then I decided to share the list on my blog in case anyone else would like to print off an edited copy for their family. Many of the rules on the list are good reminders for adults, too! Thank you to Lauren Battistelli for first posting Hoffman’s list on facebook this morning.
RULES FOR iPADS, iPHONES, & CELL PHONES
1. Never be upset about your parents wanting passwords.
2. If it rings, answer it. Say hello, use your manners. Never ignore a call from your parents. Not ever.
3. Shut the device off at a reasonable hour each evening, then turn it on again in the morning. If you would not make a call to someone’s land line, wherein their parents may answer first, then do not call or text. Listen to those instincts & respect other families like we would like to be respected.
4. It does not go everywhere with you. Have a conversation with the people you text in person. It’s a life skill. (2 Cor. 8:7)
5. If it falls into the toilet, smashes on the ground, or vanishes into thin air, you are responsible for replacement costs or repairs.
6. Do not use this technology to lie, fool, or deceive another human being. Do not involve yourself in conversations that are hurtful to others. Be a good friend always or stay out of the crossfire. (Col. 4:6; Eph. 4:29)
7. Do not text, email, or say anything through this device that you would not say in person. (James 1:26; 1 Pet. 3:9-11)
8. No porn. Period. (Psalm 101:3)
9. Turn it off, silence it, put it away in public, especially in worship, a restaurant, at the movies, or while speaking with another human being. You are not a rude person. Do not allow any device to change that.
10. Do not send any pictures of your body parts. Do not receive any pictures of anyone else’s body parts. Don’t laugh. Some day you may be tempted to do this despite your Christianity and your level of high intelligence. It’s risky & will ruin your teenage/ college/ adult life. It is always a bad idea. Cyberspace is vast and more powerful than you. It’s hard to make anything disappear, especially a bad reputation.
11. Don’t take a zillion pictures & videos. There’s no need to document everything. LIVE your experiences. They will be stored in your memories.
12. Leave your device(s) home sometimes & feel safe and secure in that decision. It is not alive or an extension of you. Learn to live without it. Be bigger and more powerful than FOMO– fear of missing out.
13. Download music that is new or classic or different than the millions of your peers that listen to the same exact stuff. Your generation has access to music like never before in history. Take advantage of that gift. Expand your horizons.
14. Play a game with words or puzzles or brain teasers every now and then.
15. Keep your eyes up. See the world happening around you. Stare out a window. Listen to the birds. Take a walk. Talk to a stranger. Wonder without googling.
16. If you mess up, we will take away your device. We will sit down and talk about it. We will start over. We are always learning. We are on your team. We are in this together.
17. Think of ways each day you can use your device to encourage others & glorify God. (1 Thess. 5:11; 1 Tim. 4:12)