October 22, 2009

Pitfalls of Passive Parents (Part 2)

Written By Cary Schmidt

This is part two of Pitfalls of Passive Parenting. Click here to read part one.

Passive Parents Focus on Behavior Modification Rather Than Heart Transformation—They are more concerned with minimizing embarrassment than with truly molding the heart. Eli wasn’t alarmed by the wickedness of his sons’ hearts. He was just embarrassed by their behavior and the complaints he received. In other words, if their sins weren’t so public and embarrassing, he wouldn’t have been bothered at all.

Wise parents do not merely try to modify or manipulate outward behavior. They are always thinking of the heart and targeting heart transformation. They are always asking the question, “Is my child just conforming outwardly, or is his heart embracing God’s truth?”

Behavior modification and outward conformity is a losing proposition. It’s temporary and shallow. It always breaks down at some point, and passive parents are usually shocked and surprised when that happens. Our kids need deep, heart-level convictions built on the foundation of truth and not merely the expectations of men.

Passive Parents Invest High Energy into Personal Interests and Career, but Little Energy into Parenting—Eli somehow found time to serve God, but not time to restrain his sons, and God was not pleased. One of the saddest verses of the passage is 1 Samuel 2:25 when Eli is speaking with his sons and says, “…if a man sin against the LORD, who shall intreat for him?” I believe their father should have intreated! Eli wouldn’t even intercede before the Lord for his sons.

Later, when God pronounces judgment upon Eli’s house, his response is rather ho-hum, “…It is the LORD: let him do what seemeth him good.” What amazing resignation and passivity.

Wise parents fight passionately for their children. They intercede, they intervene, they fully engage with their best energy and effort. They are willing to lose the world, but not their children. And God always honors those right priorities.

Passive Parents Ultimately Resign Themselves to “Whatever Will Be…”—Eli never really invested much energy into trying to bring about a change. Perhaps he saw himself as the victim of circumstances and powerless in his sons’ lives. That belief caused him to slump into fatherly resignation and neglect. I want to shout to Eli, “Get up and fight! Reconcile your relationship with your sons! Do something! Beg God! Plead for your family!”

Wise parents never give up and they never believe it’s too late to affect a change. Many times I’ve seen faithful parents remain faithful through the struggles of a prodigal child. Through all the heartbreak, pain, embarrassment, and frustration, they never quit church, never left the Lord, and never stopped fighting. Rather than play a blame game, they just kept loving, praying, and living faithfully. Though their child was adrift, they remained the anchor!

And many times, I’ve seen those children come back to the Lord and to their spiritual anchor—their prayer-warrior parents. Parent, it’s never too late to see God work in the heart of your child! Don’t ever give up.

Passive Parents Will Answer to God for Their Own Neglect, not Their Children’s Choices—God created free will. It was His idea. At the end of the day, our children have the power to make choices that we cannot control. God holds them responsible for those choices. Eli was not responsible for his sons’ wickedness, but he was responsible for knowing about it and doing nothing. (1 Samuel 3:13)

One of the greatest motivators to awaken us out of parental slumber should be the fact that we will be held accountable for our inaction.

Wise parents see parental action as obedience to God. They discipline and nurture their children not merely to improve circumstances, control behavior, or minimize embarrassment. They do so because they themselves are obedient children of a Heavenly Father. They seek to honor God.

Last week I had a conversation with a young lady from our singles department who is experiencing a marvelous time of growth in God’s grace. Recently saved, she is literally basking in God’s goodness and soaking up all the truth and wisdom that she can. It’s wonderful to see. But over the course of our talk she expressed great disappointment in the fact that she’s so late in learning many biblical truths that her parents should have taught her. How she wishes they weren’t passive parents.

How about your kids? When they are in their late twenties will they share the same disappointment? Or will you fully engage and nurture them with God’s grace and truth?  Learn the pitfalls of passive parenting from the story of Eli. Engage with fervent energy and spiritual commitment. Target your child’s heart with passionate tenacity. Engaging fully in the spiritual development of your children is nothing short of honoring God, and He responds quite favorably to that honor—“…for them that honour me I will honour…” (1 Samuel 2:30)