Kingmaker. On raising your kids to be leaders.
“Be fruitful.” That’s where we left off last week.
But….you can’t help but go on to the next phrase, if you were raised the way I was. Like an old song running through your head, and you. just. can’t. stop. the next line from coming.
And, if you have ever imagined how big God must be, and how much He has done, that’s a tall order.
He doesn’t just multiply; you need exponents on exponents to explore the scope of what He has done. And that’s just in nature.
One of my daughters majored in Math. Now, I like math. Don’t get me wrong. Even considered it as a major myself.
But these days, my life is VERY practical. And I don’t always understand what she is talking about.
But, last summer, she won a summer research position. And went off to Kansas (cue Wizard of Oz jokes right here).
And started doing research. In Math.
Why? Because mathematics is something we don’t fully understand yet. We are discovering it. And building ways to deal with what we discover. These young people go to the edges of what is known and start…doing equations.
Really. And they find out stuff. Because mathematics isn’t created; it’s revealed. God designed it.
Or, you could say we create mathematics to measure the infinite universe as we keep discovering it.
I’ll leave that up to the philosophers. Or the cosmologists (they seem to know everything, right?)
But the point is…we’re still finding out how big this thing called mathematics is.
The language of science. The measurement of the Creation.
When God multiplies, He multiplies. BIG TIME.
And, if I’m made in His image, and commanded to multiply, that’s breathtaking.
But today, I want to consider one very critical aspect of multiplying.
How do you recreate yourself in others, who can then take what you’ve done to the next level?
There are scads of leadership books written on this idea. Because it’s universal.
Real leadership is about multiplying yourself.
But getting it better in version 2.0.
They go beyond you.
So, here are some thoughts about parenting, with Divine purpose:
M–Make Them Kings. Psalm 45:16 says, “Instead of thy fathers shall be thy children, whom thou mayest make princes in all the earth.” Hmm. Wait…what? I thought God made them whatever they’re going to be.
Nice thought, but that isn’t what the text says. Clearly written to a mother, it says “YOU make them.” Wow.
So, do I make my child a “prince”? How do I make her a leader? How do I give him wings?
This takes something called “empowering parenting.” And I have a thought for Christian parents.
If we want our children to walk in the Power of the Holy Spirit, and exercise their God-given authority over the world and devil, why don’t we let them exercise any power at home?
How can they learn what they’ve never done?
So in our house we share power. On purpose. We delegate authority to the kids on certain issues, and in certain areas. More and more, as they get older. Because what we do tells our kids so much more than what we say.
“I trust you” doesn’t mean much, if I won’t let you handle the china.
“I believe in you” can be negated if I won’t allow you to choose your own classes in high school.
But, if I can stand on the sidelines and watch them make a mistake, without rushing in to help, the clear message is “You got this.” And, even more importantly, “I believe in you.”
Oh, I am present. My presence is there to support. And to give advice, if I’m asked. My children know that they are not abandoned or alone.
But the powerful combination of my presence and my lack of interference tells them what nothing else can.
That they can do it.
And I pray. A lot. But they don’t have to know all that right now.
I want them to get credit. And take responsibility.
Find out what happens if they make a wrong choice. And realize that they then have to fix it.
Now, when the stakes are small.
This is NOT something I want them to learn in college, when they are on their own.
Better to flunk a second-grade spelling test and learn how to study, than to try to overcome a 2.0 GPA later because Mom always told you how to do your homework. (Or, God forbid, did it for you…)
So, if you want them to be leaders, very simply…treat them like leaders.
They become what you truly expect.
U–Understand their individuality.
Every child has a unique set of attributes. Miraculously, no two of us are alike. Different styles, different temperaments, different gifting, different destinies.,…but each one of them marvelous.
You have to pay attention to who your kid is.
Not who you want them to be.
One of my daughters is extremely mechanical (OK., all of my daughters are mechanical. I married an engineer. And I appreciate it, because it’s not part of my skill set). When she was little, she would take apart radios. At other peoples’ houses. Making dinner parties uncomfortable. And…she wasn’t outgoing. Not always “sweet.”
And I didn’t know what I was doing. I let her, without meaning to, feel like she had failed me.
She couldn’t live up to my expectations.
In my world, men could be introverts. Could be straight-forward. But little girls? God made them to be “sugar and spice and everything nice.” Well, she was more “I’m busy right now” than “How are you today?” And it made me uncomfortable.
She isn’t autistic. Or rude. But she began to feel like she could never do anything right, because I had un-Biblical expectations.
There isn’t a single verse in the Bible that dictates what a woman’s temperament should be.
But I had swallowed a large dose of “Christian” culture along with the Word of God, and felt like a failure as a mother because my little girl was more interested in engineering than in people.
Thank God for wise husbands. Daddy figured it out and, without making me feel guilty, gently turned around my thinking. We practiced accepting her, out loud, on purpose. “Catch her being good,” and affirm it, became our watchword.
Today, this beautiful daughter has traveled to 5 nations representing a major company in the tech industry. She knows who she is. She knows that God not only loves her, but designed her. Just. Like. She. Is. She IS feminine, and kind, and beautiful. But she’s still an introvert. And, if you catch her on a bad day, she’d rather interact with her software than with you.
And that’s OK. I understand her. And enjoy her. But it took me a minute (my fault, not hers). And what I learned benefited the siblings who came after. (one reason I enjoyed having a large family; you eventually get it right!)
So…pay attention. Learn their love languages. Watch out for the things that “light them up” like a lightbulb; God’s calling is usually involved. And don’t push them into activities they aren’t keen on. Pay attention and pray. Especially if they aren’t like you. They aren’t supposed to be.
Affirmation is one of the most powerful tools a parent has. God uses it, with us. Note the times in the Old Testament that God was “pleased” with someone, or pointed out their righteousness. Noah, Abraham…these aren’t guys I would’ve called righteous! But God loves to affirm and praise His children. Oh, he corrects us, but His favorite response is, “It is good.”
What do we all want to hear at the end of our life? “Well done, good and faithful servant.” “Enter into the joy of your Lord.”
So, yes, while we occasionally correct and teach, our daily baseline should be acceptance and affirmation.
If a child is told, “You’re bad,” he begins to believe it.
T–Take Time for Fun.
Now, it’s easy to be very serious when you’re parenting on purpose. When you know that your young leaders hold the next generation’s direction in their hands. When you know that they’re called to make a difference. But sometimes you just have to get over it. In the end, we’re trusting God. Not pressuring them. And nothing says trust and no pressure like laughter. Your house should be full of it . It’s the language of rest.
If it’s in short supply, check to see if you haven’t slipped over into worry…just sayin’.
No one is born knowing how to parent. You have to learn. So…get started. Read everything you can. Listen to leaders and people that you trust. Talk to folks whose kids have turned out well. Find out what to do. You really can. Then…parent. On purpose.
I changed my major from pre-med to elementary-ed when I realized I was called to be a mother. So glad I did. I started off as a homeschooler. Then life intervened. I found a great Christian school. Then my oldest son and daughter needed more. I (gasp) found a great public school. We have educated our children just about every way that you can. Formal, informal. Public, private. With others. With just us.
But, in the end, I have always seen their education as my responsibility. (Along with their father, of course). So I use the schools God provides, to supply a piece of it. Some high-quality educational pieces have come my way through great teachers and great schools. And I have the property tax bills (It’s a Texas thing) to prove it.
One night, at a high school open house, I said so. I actually said to a highly educated, highly committed public school educator, “I see myself as the one in charge of their education. But this year, I’m happy to delegate Social Studies to you. We’re a team. Call me if you need anything.” Shocking myself–did I really just say that? And she surprised me. “You get it!” she exclaimed joyfully. “Thank you so much. I wish all parents understood that.”
We were intentional about our speech, about affirmation, about shared power, about overseeing their formal education, about their character. And God helped us; I am SO pleased with the results.
P–Parenting on Purpose
Discipline. It’s a word I heard a lot, growing up. My Dad was the “take a leather belt to your backside” kind of Dad. And he didn’t tolerate mess-ups. We minded our p’s and q’s when Dad was home.
But, in my work as a family doctor, I have met a lot of families that seem to think 2 things.
1) That discipline IS parenting.
2) That spanking IS discipline.
So, they reason, that if they spank their kids, everything will be fine. Right? Wrong.
The Bible says to TEACH your child. While you walk. While you sit. While you stand…get the picture?
It’s exhausting. Sometimes it really is. Never-ending.
But, if you begin with the end in mind, you’ll get there.
Discipline is a fancy word for training. Teaching. Coaching. Mentoring.
And, yes, sometimes it involves the rod. In love. When necessary.
But it is so much more.
It is about getting the vision for what your child is to be. Both general character and specific destiny.
Praying. Learning. And helping them get there. On purpose.
L–Love Your Child.
THIS is the foundation of parenting. It is, after all, a relationship. It changes and grows through the years, but the foundation is love. Acceptance. Rock-solid commitment to them. Without asking anything in return.
(Discipline and training are the second floor of the building; love is the foundation.)
This is how you handle is when something they do brings disappointment. This is how you stand by them if their actions embarrass you in front of the whole community. Been there. THIS is how you continue to treat them if they don’t choose to benefit from all of your efforts. At least, right now.
Why? Because it’s exactly how God treats you.
My children are bright. We came to expect academic success. But I made absolutely SURE that they knew they would still be loved without the report card.
Most honor students don’t know whether they would really be loved without the straight A’s. Or A’s and B’s.
Or great touchdown. Or home run. Or piano recital. Or sexual purity. Or whatever it is, in your family.
So I told them. Over and over. Until it was schmaltzy. “Baby, that report card is amazing. I’m so pleased with your efforts. But I want to be sure you know that Daddy and I would love you, even without it.”
They roll their eyes. But they hear me. And the next 6 weeks, they will hear it again. Because it matters.
Y–You. (Not. About.)
It’s. Not. About. You.
I can’t say this enough. Parenting is about being turned upside down, inside out, and emptied. For someone else.
Their accomplishments? Need to be theirs.
Their choices? Need to be theirs.
Their accomplishments? Need to be theirs.
Their failures? Need to be theirs.
And, if some idiot tries to judge you by your kids, or compete with you, or put you down, or idolize you…ignore them.
It’s. Not. About. You.
That’s what servanthood is all about.
And, in the end, it’s how God treats us.
And He’s the greatest Parent of all.