Due to extenuating circumstances, we were unable to post the audio from Pastor Yogi’s messages on parenting. But he has written up the highlights for us below.
Something we need to keep in mind in regards to parenting is that no one holds the corner on “doing it all right”. There are no perfect parents and no perfect children. Parenting is not for cowards. There is nothing in this world that has made me feel more like a failure at times than the job of parenting. At the same time, I can’t think of any other responsibility that has brought me more joy.
Our children are grown now, but I do remember days I could agree with Mark Twain’s philosophy on raising children, “When a child turns 13, put him in a barrel, nail on the lid and feed him through the knothole. When they turn 16, plug up the knothole”.
Two comments Joy and I quit making a long time ago: “Our kids will never act like that,” and “That will never happen to our family.”
One of my favorite Scripture passages on raising children – Psalm 127:3-5
3 Children are a heritage from the Lord,
offspring a reward from him.
4 Like arrows in the hands of a warrior
are children born in one’s youth.
5 Blessed is the man
whose quiver is full of them.
They will not be put to shame
when they contend with their opponents in court.
Three factors to consider regarding the warrior’s relationship to his arrows:
1. The concentrated time he gives in shaping the arrow.
2. The strong desire he has for the arrow to hit the target.
3. Once released, the hope he has for the arrow to travel beyond his reach.
When I think of my desires for my own children, it very similar to the warriors relationship to his arrows. With God’s help, I spend time and effort shaping my children, so they might hit the mark God has set for them. In doing so, I’ve seen my children go to places and touch people I could never reach myself.
Four qualities children should pick up from their parents:
Wonderment – children come into the world with a sense of awe, especially in regards to their parents and God. Both are enormous in their eyes. Very often they lose that sense of wonder as they grow, especially through their teenage years. Early on, kids believe their parents are the greatest. Do what you can to hold onto that “opinion”. Give them reason to believe it. Kids need someone to look up to. Why not Dad and Mom? Then to an even greater degree, teach them how “awesome” God is. Through Scripture, creation and your own personal testimony, help your kids to understand, God is worthy of our attention and praise. He is Someone to be in awe of.
Authenticity – and while you’re working to hold onto that opinion of wonder, don’t be afraid to be real. Kids catch when their parents are faking it, especially as they grow older. Take advantage of those opportunities to be real with your kids. To acknowledge you don’t always do it right. To admit to them you blow it sometimes as well.
Humility – right behind authenticity, comes humility. The opportunities we provide for ourselves to get down on our kid’s level and not only admit we blow it, but ask their forgiveness when we do. Our stock goes up, not down, when we do.
Faithfulness – our children need to catch what the term “keep your word” means. Commitment seems to be in short supply these days. We need to teach our children what it means to be faithful as a child of God, a husband and wife, and as a parent. They need to witness faithfulness in action on a regular basis. This more than anything builds security and confidence into those young lives.
As I mentioned in the first message, parenting is a responsibility that is full of many blessings and challenges. Nothing I’ve done in my life has provided more joy, while at the same time some of my most difficult moments.
In this message, I would like to share four of the lessons I’ve learned along the way, and sometimes lessons that have been learned the hard way. It is my prayer that in some way, these lessons might be a blessing to other parents, no matter at what place they find themselves in the journey.
Cherish the phases that naturally come with growing a family.
Joy and I started off with twins, one of which was not expected. In depended on the day, as to which one that was. Starting off with two, set our lives in a spin that did not slow down until long after numbers 3 and 4 were born and adding to the “fun”. For me, I don’t know that I caught the “phase” part of parenting until our two oldest were well into their elementary years. What I caught later in the game, was the fact that parenting involved very different phases along the way, such as,
Pre-school – a very busy and tiring time that can feel like it is might go on forever
Elementary – parents begin to experience new freedom and more “activity” away from the home
Teen – hormones, pimples and attitudes. Not all families have the same experienced, but for many, can be turbulent times.
Release – off to college or career and the things around home begin to change with each child’s departure. Happy sad times.
Empty nest – all are gone, but sometimes they come back. Sometimes they come back with “extras”. This is a period where mom and dad discover how well they really know each other.
Obviously, each of these phases can be broken down, but this gives you some kind of idea what I am referring to. My encouragement is to recognize the phases as they come and be certain to enjoy each one rather than wish they would hurry along. That happens quickly enough.
Take the time to identify and celebrate each child’s uniqueness.
Proverbs 22:6 tells us to “train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it”. As a young father, I heard a message that gave this passage a different slant from how most read it. The key word in this passage is “way”, which refers to the child’s “bent” or characteristics. In other words, God makes each human being with a particular way about them, and one of the primary responsibilities for the parent is to help their children discover that way and help them follow it. Most parents quickly notice the differences between their children. This is not by accident. Wise, discerning parents help their children find “their way”.
Don’t be afraid to do the hard thing.
Every parent faces moments where major decisions need to be made. Decisions that will not be popular for the child. I have made many decisions in regards to my children that left me sleepless at night, not knowing if I had done the right thing. Sometimes it is the parents right and responsibility to step in and make hard decisions, that hopefully will turn out for the best and one day, the child will be thankful for. They might even tell you that themselves.
One of the hardest decisions we ever made was insisting one of our sons transfer to another college at the beginning of his second semester in his first year. The decision had to do with a difficult and dangerous roommate, along with some of our son’s lifestyle choices. At the time, he wanted to disown us (but could not afford to). Today, he would say it is the best thing we ever did for him. We didn’t always do it right, but sometimes we did, and only God knows how many times we save our children from who knows what.
Try to smile, maybe even laugh, at some of the stuff you learn about later.
Joy and I prayed regularly for our kids to get caught if they were up to something they shouldn’t have been doing. Sometimes it happened, but often it did not. We know that because of the stories our children are sharing with us today, now that they are out of the house and fell safe to share them. Now that they are out of the house, raising children of their own that will one day feel safe to share their own stories. It is funny how true the saying is, “what goes around, comes around”. God is good!
The most important lesson I’ve learned is how deep love flows. No words can adequately describe the love I feel for my children, and now my grandkiddos take it even deeper. This helps me to begin to grasp the fact of God’s great love for me. He is perfect in love and lavishes it all on me. Having children of my own has helped me to have a greater understanding of this incredible truth.