Wednesday, April 27, 2011
Download MP3 (right click to save)
When my daughter was little, one of her favorite books was Misty of Chincoteague. Now, if you haven't read that classic, let me bring you up-to-date real quick. Chincoteague is an island off the eastern shore of Virginia. And it's known for these beautiful white ponies. They're wild ponies, and that's who Misty was - one of those wild ponies.
Now at one point in the story, Phantom, who was Misty's mother, is in a horse pen on a farm. They have been captured, and the two children in the story who live on this farm are distressed because they see Phantom kicking her own colt - Misty. And so they yell at her to stop! Well, of course, enter Grandma - wise grandma. Those words go together, right? Grandma's always say wise things. And Grandma explains to the two children. She says, "Look, kids, she's not trying to hurt her foal; she's loving her in the hardest way there is. She knows that the time has come for Misty to be on her own." Well, that's pretty good horse sense, isn't it? And it's always good horse sense to keep that time in mind.
I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "A Parent's Hardest Job."
Now, our word for today from the Word of God comes from Genesis chapter 2, verse 24. It's always good to know your goal, right? If you're a pilot and you're flying a plane, it's good to have your flight plan and to know what airport you're aiming for. If you're running with a football, it's very important you know which goal is yours. It's good to know where your goal is if you're raising your child, too. A parent's final objective is described to the very first parents there ever were even before they were parents - Adam and Eve. And our biggest assignment has not changed.
Genesis 2, verse 24, "God says, 'For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.'" These are hard words if you're a parent. "Leave father and mother." Basically, God is telling us here that our children are not ours to keep. Our mission as parents is to prepare our children to leave us; to live without us. And that starts very young. You don't come to your child every time they cry or they call, because if you do, they'll never learn to be on their own if you come every time. You don't solve every problem for them. You teach them how to solve a problem. You don't give them an endless supply of money; you teach them that you earn money, and then you plan your spending. When you're out of money, you're out of money.
As they grow older you don't make every decision for them, you teach them how to make a decision and then you let them make some mistakes. You don't give them a rule for every occasion. Instead, you teach them a personal set of principles by which they can make all their moral choices. You don't just give them all the right answers, but you teach them how to ask good questions. Everything in us wants to protect them from every mistake, every hurt, and to hold on to them even sometimes to tie our identity to theirs. Don't do it. It's just not how God meant parenting to be from the very first parents.
We're assigned to nudge our children slowly but surely toward the gate. The gate's called personal responsibility. And if we do it well, they'll one day rise up and call us blessed. We just don't dare need them too much for our own identity. See, we're supposed to be getting them ready to leave. And that's a parent's hardest responsibility, but it's also one of our most important jobs.