Sluggard is one of those great Bible words we don’t use in regular conversation very often. Yet, the Bible actually has quite a bit to say about sluggards. As someone who considers myself a person who accomplishes more than most in the course of an average day, I never thought much about sluggards.
That is until I read a quote by author Leighton McCoy. “I chose to believe that whatever I didn’t do as a parent would be covered by what God would do as the perfect parent and therefore I didn’t really have to worry too terribly much when my children veered off course. I was wrong. I thought this was childlike faith, but now I know it was spiritual laziness.” Ouch!
We have all been there more than once. You have had a long hard day and you feel like your conversations have primarily consisted of you repeating the word “No”. Yet, that precious child insists on continuing to rebel against your instructions. I know I at points would say, “I’m done. Letting this one go won’t make that much of a difference.”
If we aren’t careful though, the times we avoid the hard work of Christian parenting begin to outnumber the times we toughen up and do what God asks us to do as Christian parents. We still make mistakes and I believe God often does cover those for us. Unfortunately, our culture is becoming a culture of entitlement and assuming others will take the responsibility for and correct our mistakes. We just need to enjoy our life and “love”. If we aren’t careful, we can let our culture convince us we are wonderful Christian parents when actually we have slipped into sluggard parenting.
I believe though, if we go back to those verses about that special sluggard person, we might find some clues if we are shifting from doing our best with God covering us to becoming a sluggard Christian parent who is asking God to do our entire job for us while we play.
What are some signs of a sluggard – and in our case sluggard parenting?
- Won’t listen to instruction. We think of our kids listening to instruction, but as parents we need to listen to instruction on effective Christian parenting. The Bible of course is our first instructor. You know those verses about talking with your kids about God’s commands as you are walking, lying down ,etc.? How many Christian parents regularly ignore that instruction because we are too busy? It also pays to listen to older parents who have adult children who are godly, active, productive Christians. When they caution you to avoid something or do something, it may be worth your while to listen to their counsel. Trust me, I have seen the damage done to the families who have routinely ignored wise godly instruction. (Prov. 26:16, 13:1)
- Wants things done, but won’t work. I will be the first to admit, Mary Poppins ruined me for life. I want to be able to snap my fingers like those kids and have all of the messes in my life cleaned with no real work on my part. Unfortunately, if we want to raise godly, Christian kids who live their faith as adults, it takes a lot of hard work. There is no easy way to do it. Period. Some kids will become wonderful Christians in spite of their parents. That is the very rare exception. You don’t put in the work God requires of us as Christian parents, you most likely won’t get the results you want. (Prov. 20:4)
- Won’t address problems and correct them as they arise. If you have ever had a garden, you understand the problems this can cause. It’s so much easier to pull out a weed seedling than a full grown weed that has roots that go feet into the ground. Left too long those weeds will go to seed themselves and produce even more weeds in your garden. Soon you have more weeds than garden. The lives of your children are like that. It is so much easier to correct an ungodly attitude and behavior the first time it appears. If you keep letting it slide though, it can grow into a well-entrenched ungodly habit or in some cases addiction. Sometimes that first ungodly weed in your child’s life if left unaddressed can set the stage for adding many other ungodly attitudes and behaviors. “Nip it in the bud” is a saying for a reason! (Prov. 24:30-34)
- Ignores danger when it is seen. Danger can take a lot of forms. Perhaps it is the friend who constantly makes ungodly choices. Perhaps it is an activity known for having participants who engage in ungodly behavior or encourages your child to miss church for the activity. If totally honest. many parents will later tell you they recognized the potential danger, but chose to ignore it until it was too late. (Prov. 27:12)
- Makes excuses. The older I get, the more convinced I become that excuses are our way of giving voice and power to the temptations of Satan. The sluggard parent is full of excuses why they “can’t”. Whether it’s family devotionals, attending worship services, correcting their children, having tough conversations with their kids or whatever they need to be doing, there is always a really good excuse why they couldn’t or didn’t. (Prov. 22:13)
- Is distracted by worthless things. How much Christian parenting doesn’t happen because of screen time or jobs or athletics? All may seem important in the course of our world, but when eternity is factored in to the equation, they are often worthless. Especially if we lose our children in the process of pursuing them. (Prov. 28:19)
- Won’t plan ahead. Trust me, you may be the very rare exception, but if you don’t plan for family devotionals, they won’t happen. If you don’t plan a time to have a tough conversation with your teen, it probably won’t happen. Effective Christian parenting is proactive not reactive. (Prov. 16:3, 15:22)
- Won’t finish what is started. Ask any room mother. In kindergarten, every mom wants to be the room mother. By third grade, the spots are barely filled. Fifth grade and beyond, you will rarely see a parent in most schools. We all have a bad habit when our kids start to mature, “They’ve got this.” for one set of skills multiples in our minds to the idea that they don’t really need us anymore. I can’t tell you how many young adults beg for godly advice from parent type figures because their parents cut them lose long ago. To be an effective Christian parent, you will gradually change how you are involved in the lives of your children, but you will always be involved. Your Christian parenting job isn’t really finished until you both are in Heaven.
Want to have great kids who will be with you in Heaven? Don’t be a sluggard and leave it to chance. Parent the opposite of a sluggard parent, and you may find your kids become the adults you have always prayed they would be. There are no guarantees, because God gives them free will, but your odds will greatly improve.