Sunday, January 10, 2016

Serious Advice 9-11: Reaping, Learning, and Modeling

            #9  Always remember, you only get a few years until they are grown.  And when they are, you will reap what you have sown.  Galatians 6:7:  “. . . A man reaps what he sows.”  They will treat you in response to how they were treated.  Parent in such a way that earns their respect and honor.  Don’t expect it just because you are the parent.  1 Peter 2:17:  “Show proper respect to everyone. . .”  Even your children! 

            Remember that we teach them how to treat others by how we treat them.  So if they have some behavior or attitude that you don’t like, examine first the behaviors and attitudes you model for them.  Or consider how their behavior may be in response to yours.  Maybe the change needs to start with you.  And I don’t just say this to “everybody else.”  Trust me, I’m always reevaluating myself, too. 

            #10  And I am always trying to see what I can learn from other people’s mistakes.  There’s a wealth of information out there if you take the time to notice it.  You’ve heard it before, but I’ll say it again:  Learn from other people’s mistakes.  You can’t make them all yourself.  Proverbs 10: 14, 16: 21:  “Wise men store up knowledge . . . The wise in heart are called discerning . . .”   
            Do you see a mother and child out to dinner, and notice how lonely the child looks as the mom gabs away on the cell phone through the whole meal?  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen this.  (What a sad commentary on our times and the state of families nowadays!  PUT THE PHONE AWAY!)  And I made a decision to always focus on my kids when we are out with them. 
            [This is an easy one for me, though, because I hate cell-phones, anyway.  In all honesty, I do have a little pay-by-the-minute phone for emergencies.  But, really, how did we as a society go from never having cell phones to being unable to function without one stuck to our heads?  It’s one thing if it’s for work or if it’s something that actually brings your family closer together.  But it’s maddening to see how many people can’t be without them and can’t just enjoy the here-and-now: the dinner, the bike ride, the car ride (come on people!), the movie, the company, etc.! 
            I went out to dinner with a friend a few times, and during dinner she would get on her phone to make plans with someone else for after dinner.  And then she would cut our dinner short because “something else came up.”  How’s that supposed to make me feel?  (I don’t see her anymore.) 
            Seriously, people, PUT THE PHONE DOWN!  You are missing out on what’s going on now!  Okay, I’m done now.  Just had to get that off my chest.] 
            Does a friend tell you how she can’t get her kids to listen unless she yells at them?   Deduce that they are probably tuning her out because she yells too much.  Teach your children to listen to you when you speak to them the first time.  (I’ll let you know when I master this one myself.)  Teach them to respect you by respecting them, also.  Respecting them does not mean giving them what they want or treating them as a peer, but treating them the way you should treat any of God’s children.
            Does your friend tell you about how he wishes that his father had played ball with him just once in his life?  Go outside and run and laugh and play with your kids.  Get involved in their world and do the things they like to do.  Don’t wait until they are old enough to do the things you like, or you may have lost them by then.  Learn from other people’s stories and mistakes, and evaluate what lessons you need to apply to your life.  And then do it! 
            #11  Your actions speak louder than your words.  Model godly behavior for them.  Proverbs 22:6:  “Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.”  Live the way you want them to live; don’t just tell them how to do it.  Don’t let them see someone who smiles at people, and then gripes about them behind their back.  Don’t show them someone who acts as though the sky is falling when problems come - when you could be showing them someone who displays faith in God to handle it.  (And, for honesty’s sake, I am guilty of both of these.  I’m working on them, always working on them.  It takes a lot of daily work to manage these kinds of things.) 
            Or how about when you are driving . . . what kinds of words come out of your mouth when you are cut off in traffic?  (Oooh, I bet I just got a lot of you with that one.)  Consider this: “But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment.  Again, anyone who says to his brother, ‘Raca,’ [possibly meaning “Empty-headed”] is answerable to the Sanhedrin.  But anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.”  (Matthew 5:22)  Serious consequences for flippant speech.  You know, if you insult a work of art, you insult the Artist!       
            Your life should be one big mission’s opportunity - a ministry - to witness to your kids and your neighbors, to make them see the benefit and beauty of serving our God.  One of the fastest ways to ruin that witness is to be a hypocrite.  The ol’ plank in the eye verse.  Live a godly life before you run your mouth off about how others should do it. 
            Sounds harsh, I know!  But this is an area where I think many people, including myself, need a huge wake-up call.  And it’s not a one-time thing.  At least, I know that I have to check and recheck myself at times, and strive over and over again to alter a behavior that is out of line with a godly walk.  And then, when I fail, I have to ask for forgiveness, pick myself up and try again.