WHERE'S YOUR BATON?
You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.
When children become token trophies, society is in deep, deep trouble. These become the children that parents have but don't raise. Because children are designed to be raised they hurt a lot when they are not. And just like the worse kind of problems, the ones that start quietly and unnoticed yet insidiously, this utterly preventable problem only gets any attention when its full-blown cancerous-like traits become so obvious that even its most vocal deniers can no longer ignore it. Someone needs to find the baton.
He must manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive
First Timothy 3:4
I am writing to parents and would-be parents with this urgent plea: take hold of the baton. And I am especially writing to those parents who are followers of Christ: pass on the baton, for it is a sacred trust.
I am mindful of those who are single-parents. I have said it many times, but a single-parent has a tough job because they have twice the responsibility with only half the resources. I could go on to say that those single-parents who have not yet found the strength that can only come from following Christ, and the timely support that can come from being in a community of Christ-followers, have an even tougher job. Given the choice, nearly all single-parents I've spoken with would not have chosen to raise their child/ren on their own. But regardless of whether you are a single-parent or a married parent, I want you to see the baton of responsibility you have. This is not a beat-up-struggling-parents-session. But this might be a wake-up-some-parents-session. Here's my premise about the baton which every parent has: Home-schooling is not just for home-schoolers! I plead with you, stop seeing your children's school, Sunday School, or Youth Group as the place where they are taught and start to see these places as where they help YOU teach your children!
¶ "Only take care, and keep your soul diligently, lest you forget the things that your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life. Make them known to your children and your children's children—
Having a child is relatively easy compared with raising a child! And because we live in an outsourcing world, it seems that the incompatible baton-abandoning idea of having children and then outsourcing their upbringing is hardly questioned. The situation has now become dire. Children who should have been trained, as well as taught, by their parents are now suffering emotionally, intellectually, and socially. As a result they are being medicated, counselled, amused, virtualised and duped. And for the most part, much of this is all entirely avoidable if parents parented.
Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.
In his book, Talk with Your Child, Harvey Wiener reports on a U.S. Department of Education study that indicates that American mothers spend less than 30 minutes a day talking with their children; fathers spend even less. Some pollsters report that fathers spend an average of 15 minutes a day talking with their children. Others have found that the average father spends less than 30 minutes a week talking to his children. In his The Read Aloud Handbook, Jim Trelease points out that the average adult in this country spends 6 hours a week shopping and 30 hours a week watching the television, in contrast to daily time spent in one-to-one conversation in homes with school-age children. One-to-one conversation averaged 9.5 minutes for at-home mothers, 10.7 for working mothers, and less for fathers.
New York Times
Estimates vary on much time a father spends talking with each of their children. Some research suggests that it's around 10 minutes a day. But if we take our 'utilitarian' talk ("Come here" "Clean up your room" "Do your homework" "Pass the salt" and so on) out of the totals it could even be less than 3 minutes a day! This is dropping the baton and it's got to stop. If you're a parent, you have a rewarding job and you may also have a paying job. Like any rewarding endeavour, it is proportional to effort invested - not just time. A baton holding parent knows that each of their children needs alone time with them as they talk about their worlds. It's important for our children to understand our world just as it's important for us to know theirs. This requires the dying art of conversation - the exchange of heart and mind with another person through the magic of listening. This is often best done at the end of their day, sitting on their bed. And our children also need socialising with their parents - being polite, attentive to, sensitive to, and considerate of, those they are with. This is often best done at the dinner table each night.
As followers of Christ, parents have a sacred charge: to teach, train, instruct, and discipline our children to be be fully devoted followers of Christ by growing their understanding and application of God's Word. This is not your Christian School teacher's job. This is not your Pastor's job. This is not your Children's Pastor's job. This is not your Youth Pastor's job.
Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.
When parents realise that God has given them a sacred baton to pass onto each of their children, they accept responsibility for teaching their children to read, to write, to reason, to express, to do math, to spell correctly, to learn where the countries of the world are, to eat well, to exercise well, to get along with others, to work, to care, to draw, to sing, to play, to share, to be generous, to listen, to apologise, to do science experiments, to learn another language, to discover the past, and to worship the LORD of Hosts. In this light, their child's Christian School teachers, Music teacher, Sports Coach, Pastor, Children's Pastor and Youth Pastor each help the parentto teach their child.
Parents, you have a baton. Pass it cleanly to each of your children. Read to them. Listen to them read. Let them see you read. (Christianity is a reading religion. Western culture is not.) Read Scripture with them and explain it to them as you go. Help them to understand God's Word. Show them the difference between the Old and New Testaments. Explain how God had one plan of salvation introduced in 'shadows' in the Old Testament and fully revealed in the New. Train them to attend church and how to engage in worship, participate in the ceremonies, and worshipfully listen to God's Word. Model for them what a husband is and does. Model for them what a mother is and does. Let them see the delight and joy in marriage. Demonstrate how to love. Showcase what forgiveness and reconciliation looks like. Present to them Jesus as the centre of your world through your commitment to God's House and your Home Group attendance. Give them a window into your world where your devotion to Jesus of Nazareth affects your effort at work, how you do your taxes, how you talk about your spouse when your spouse can't hear you, how you delay your gratification so you avoid debt, how you sacrifice some pleasures to willingly be a parent and follower of Christ. Fathers, father. Mothers, mother. Pass the baton on. Dads, discipline (not punish) your children (Hebrews 12:8). Mums, nurture your children ( 1Thess. 2:7).
¶ I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.Romans 12:1-2
While the world 'debates' what constitutes a "family" and it's foundation- a marriage - followers of Christ have a wonderful privilege to show the world the answer. This is one of the reasons why Christian parents dedicate their children from a young age to be raised in the ways of Christ. While children as young 11 and 12 are being left to fend for themselves in world gone mad on rights without responsibilities they are being deprived of the loving attention of their father and the complementary loving nurture of their mother. The result is confusion, aggression, depression, isolation, sexualisation, which are increasingly being dealt with by alcohol, pharmaceuticals, synthetic drugs, more toys - anything except what a child really needs. And Christ-following parents can really stand out from this scenario by parenting their children to the glory of God. Consider taking a moment tonight, and the next, to talk with your child. Listen to them. Hug them. Affirm them. Pass the baton to them.
Train up a child in the way he should go;
even when he is old he will not depart from it..