On The Rearing of Children

An insightful woman once said, “There is no calling more elevated in our society than that of being a parent, and no career for which there is less preparation.”  I am not sure when that statement was first uttered, but in today’s world it might need amended to read “there is no calling more elevated in today’s world than that of being a pet owner!”

Parenting skills seem to have been in this 21st century, delegated in large part to the internet via the computer or iPhone.  Yet parenting remains a full-time task that can be rewarding, heart-rending, exhilarating and exhausting all at the same time.  It demands love, wisdom, patience, long-suffering, gentleness, consistency, common sense, character-molding, humility and grace in equal and abundant measures.  There is never a break, vacation from, sabbatical afforded, yet there are always physical, mental, emotional and spiritual demands that at once seem impossible to fulfill.  Nothing can be more rewarding; nothing can be more heart-breaking.  No books (except the Book of Wisdom) can ever assure the parent practitioner of success.  No model followed to the ultimate will ever produce a product that is guaranteed to bring pleasure or pride.

Many highly successful and prominent people have walked halls of Congress, dined with presidents, negotiated multi-million-dollar business deals and have won the plaudits of their world, all the while failing miserably in teaching and training, loving and leading, nesting and nurturing of the precious soul of a child who bears his or her image and carries in time to eternity their name. “What shall it profit a man if he should gain the whole world and lose his own (child)?”  Jesus of course said, “and lose his own soul,” but the loss of one’s child through neglect or dereliction of duty is of equal tragic consequence.

Benjamin West was an 18th century painter who was chosen as England’s King George III’s historian painter.  When he was a child, his mother assigned him the task of tending to his sister Sally while she ran a short errand.  The lad discovered some ink filled bottles of differing colors with which, in his mother’s absence, he painted a portrait of his little sister.  Upon returning home the  mother was greeted first with an inky mess on chairs, tables and the floor and was aghast until she saw the picture Benjamin had painted, causing her to exclaim in delight, “It’s a picture of Sally,” whereupon she bent over and kissed her son’s forehead.  Years later, recounting the incident, West said, “My mother’s kiss made me a painter.”

Many a little boy or girl, in today’s world, are starving for a kiss or kind word from mother. 

The late Lester Roloff, an old-time preacher of another era who loved youth and founded homes for homeless or troubled boys, girls, men and women, once said there were some things he would not change, given the chance:  “(1)  Mother and Dad—not educated but good people who stayed together; never did go to the divorce court; (2)  Where I was born and raised—out on the farm with chickens and cows, and a nine-yard cotton sack and a gooseneck hoe and work and sweat and a daddy that saw to it that I was hyper-active; (3)  A little one room church where an old-fashioned preacher came and hollered loud and preached the gospel and I got saved.”

Parenting, the highest calling and heaviest commission known to men and women under the sun.  An impossible task apart from the grace of God and the wisdom of His Word.  A job that may leave your heart blessed or broken or both at the same time.  A work never finished at the end of a day, and in the mind of Mother and Father, never completed, in actuality, until one draws his last breath. A great privilege, at times a grueling pain this parenting job. I have ministered for a lifetime as a pastor to parents and have wept and prayed, laughed and loved with families overjoyed with success or overwhelmed with failure; sometimes reaching heights of happiness, sometimes depths of despair.

Take heart, dear parent.  No parent has all the answers.  No parent with any good sense would claim all the credit; neither does any parent deserve all the blame.  Adam and Eve gave birth to the world’s first brothers: one known as a man of faith and one as a murderer.  Two boys, same parents, same environment yet as different as heaven and hell.

Ellen and I wish you all the best in your parenting pursuit. We hope you will experience great joy. As well as joys there will be also some disappointments.  But the joys far outweigh the sorrows.  Recently, rifling through a box of mementos that had been in storage for decades, we came across the following lines penned by one of our daughters.  We share with you in hopes that you are clipping (parenting) coupons even to old age.  It began:  Mom and Dad:

There’s a bond between us.  I’m not sure when it started but now it’s my lifeline of spiritual and mental support.  A shaky bond—weak because of its newness but will grow stronger with use.  A bond born in tears—shared tears over ruined plans and shattered dreams.  A bond nurtured by your smiles—smiles of encouragement when the shared tears dim the future.  
A bond strengthened by faith in God—faith to direct our paths and give us wisdom.  A bond woven with cords of love—sacrificial love that reaches beyond the miles and wraps its’ inflexible grip around my heart holding me to thoughts of you forever.  All my love
.”

Lo, children are an heritage of the Lord:  and the fruit of the womb is his reward.” (Ps.127:3)

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