The next time our world has a problem that needs a creative solution, I suggest we turn to the authors of diet books. They are some of the most creative people around. Diet books have to convince the reader there is a new, exciting, fun way for you to lose weight. The only problem is there really is only one healthy way to lose weight – burn more calories than you consume.
Eating less and exercising more sounds dreadfully boring, perhaps even painful. Quite frankly, I feel a little faint even thinking about the few calories I will get to eat. However, if you package it in some pretty or glamorous sounding package, I am all in. In fact, people spend millions of dollars every year on various diet books and cookbooks. In spite of all of this creativity, most people still fail in their attempts to diet. The reason most diets don’t work is that there is no magic involved. No matter how pretty the package, the bottom line is you will be eating less and moving more if you really want the pounds to disappear.
Maybe we read too many fairy tales as children. We want everything to work as if our fairy godmother has waved her wand and everything turns out perfectly. If we are truly honest, there is a part of us that wants to eat as much as we want, move only when absolutely necessary, have everyone revolve around our wishes and desires, spend as much as we want and yet have plenty of money left over, etc. I think the Apostle Paul calls it our sinful desires. The flesh wants what the flesh wants and it doesn’t want to work for it if at all possible.
So how does all of this relate to parenting and dedicating our children to God? Remember the ongoing debate about quality time versus quantity time with our children? It was often the crux of early debates between stay-at-home moms and career moms. The old “I am there for them all of the time” versus the “I may not be there all of the time, but at least when I am with them I give them high quality time” debate.
Want to know the secret to raising spiritually, emotionally, mentally and physically healthy children who follow God all the days of their lives? You are not going to like it, but here is the truth.
You will have to spend a large quantity of high quality time with your children to do the best you possibly can at raising your children and dedicating them to God. In order to give your children the amount of quality time they really need, you may have to sacrifice or postpone things you enjoy or want until your children are adults.
Are godly children raised by parents who have spent neither a large quantity or high quality time with them? Possibly, but I would imagine the children had outside help and/or a strong determination of their own to follow God. They also have holes in their lives where they wished their parents had been. (I know because I have had this discussion with many teens and adults over the years.) Does spending quality time in large quantities with your children absolutely guarantee they will grow up to be faithful Christians? No, your child has free will and can make choices that will take him away from God in spite of all your efforts.
So why bother? I think back to the story of Samuel. The Bible doesn’t really go into details other than that Samuel traveled a lot around Israel and his sons did not have the same values he did. Actually, the misbehavior of Samuel’s sons was what initially caused the people to come to Samuel and ask for a king. Think of all the trouble that Israel later had because of evil kings. How would things have been different if Samuel’s sons had been godly? If he had spent a larger quantity of quality time training them, would they have been godly?
We will never know for sure, just like we won’t know for sure if all of our extra efforts in raising our children will come to fruition. I have always said though, that if God were to ever ask me about how I raised my daughter, I want to be able to say I have done everything I possibly could to dedicate her to God. I hope you will join me in attempting to spend a significant amount of quality time with our children, training them to be godly men and women when they become adults.
So my question for you is, how can we package this parenting truth in creative ways to encourage Christian parents to put the necessary work into parenting? If we package it creatively, are we being a little deceptive or is it necessary to glam up the truth to make it more likely people will parent proactively? I would love to hear your thoughts in a comment below.