Being a book-lover, I like www.christianbooksummaries.com a lot. Every week they post the summary of a Christian book, and I essentially get to read the gist of one book per week in less than one hour.
This week the summarized book is Family Driven Faith by Pastor Voddie Baucham. While reading that book summary, I was reminded that being a Christian father really is not supposed to be easy. No, I did not start out expecting it to be easy, but more and more I started to realize I’m not just responsible for my kid physically, but increasingly more so spiritually.
The book Family Driven Faith suggests that there are three phases in raising godly children: (1) discipline (getting kids to do what they’re told, when they’re told, and with the right attitude); (2) catechism (teach and motivate kids to know God and allow them to ask questions); and (3) discipleship (help kids to live out their faith and understanding). But just the first phase of discipline already scares me. How can I get Chase to have obedience and respect?
More and more Chase is growing independent and autonomous. He’s also showing us that it’s so much easier to learn to rebel than to obey. When I attempt to model being good and nice, he seems to be ignoring it, but when I slip and say bad things or do bad deeds, he picks those things up and copies them perfectly. When you tell him to go east, he might go west, and when you try to tell him he can’t do something, he might react by grumping or even hitting back.
The book also uses Deuteronomy 6 to say that parents should bear the primary responsibility to raise godly children. I completely agree with that. I’m not one to look for school districts when I look for a house, and I’m not one to look for children/youth programs when I look for a church. Churches and schools have their place in a child’s education and growth, but I’ve always believed that parents should not rely on other people to shape a child. But it’s easier said than done. It really takes a lot of hard work.
When Chase was a baby, I was reading different kinds of parenting books from different parenting philosophies. After reading many books, I can say there are two broad categories of parenting philosophies. The first category is aimed at parenting methodologies that provide quick results. For example, one book says that letting babies cry it all when they sleep is the best because it achieves the results the quickest way. And how could you argue with them when they say their method allows parents to sleep better so they can parent better the next day? I’ve heard from other parents who agree with this method, telling me that yes, it would be sad for the kid to cry so much, but they’re so small and they’ll forget about all that stuff in just a couple years.
The second category is not about methodologies, about relationships. They also believe that kids know more than we give them credit for. When an infant cries, he/she is communicating, and if that need to communicate is not met, it chips away at the trust and the relationship between the child and the parent. I read books on discipline not as a method but as a relationship, and mealtimes not so much a nutritional feeding time but a time of communication and family ritual.
One thing I observe about Jesus is that he doesn’t have a clear method when leading his disciples. In fact, he would be a lousy leader by worldly standards. But clearly he emphasizes his relationship with Father God, and the disciples cling to Jesus because of their relationships. I want to learn to be that kind of leader of my family. So I clearly favor the parenting by relationships and not by methodologies. I feel sad when I see parents rely on sending kids to numerous activities or buying material things for the kids to try to appease them, while lacking in actually spending time helping them grow to be a godly person. But I also have to admit that I slip into this mode from time to time due to my busyness.
However, establishing relationships is hard and it takes a lot of time and energy. But I have to believe that it’s worth it in the long run. I remember reading a story in a book by Gary Thomas about the reward of suffering. As a highschooler, he once was running a race against students from smaller schools. He surpassed the other athletes quickly and proceeded to slow down for the remainder of the race and won easily. Though he won the award, he didn’t feel that ecstatic over it. But another time he raced against really good runners, and he ran and ran with all his might, and he even felt like he wanted to collapse in the middle of the race and still kept running, and after winning by a nose, he got sick for 3 days afterwards. But it was the most treasured award he won. In the same way, suffering gives meaning to victory. And I must be convinced that, after all the hard work Wendy and I put in to this family, and even feeling like we want to give up along the way, when years later we look back on today, we’ll feel this is a race well run and well worth it.
In closing, I’d like to quote a word of encouragement from the book Family Driven Faith: “We can turn our homes into sanctuaries for the worship of Almighty God… Our lives can be fully engulfed with the presence and priority of God. That will go a long way toward establishing family driven faith.”