Whenever I think of parenting I’m reminded of an illustration by Dr James Dobson. He tells about this picture of a woman, perfectly poised. Sipping a cup of tea, with her finger crooked just so. What she doesn’t know is that her slip has fallen down around her ankles. The caption read, “Confidence is what you have before you know all the facts.”
Parenting is one of the greatest challenges and the most important responsibilities we will ever undertake. And its tough. They don’t come with instructions. What do you do?
I’m often asked, “Bill, what is the most important part of being a parent.” There’s so much that is important. Affirmation. Unconditional acceptance. Focused attention. Meaningful touch. Discipline. Training. Time.
Most important. Show them Jesus.
The greatest problem with most parents today, even Christian parents is what I call the Pinnochio problem. Remember Pinocchio? He had no conscience. He didn’t internally know the difference between right and wrong. So the Blue Fairy gave him Jiminy Cricket as his conscience. That was a huge mistake. Jiminy wasn’t always around. And even when he was, Pinocchio didn’t always listen to him.
Pinocchio’s great problem was external influence verses internal guidance.
Some of you are Jiminy Cricket to your kids. You are their conscience. The minute you are gone they do whatever seems right to them. External guidance won’t do the job. They need an internal guide. They need the filling of the Holy Spirit.
So the greatest gift you can give your child is Jesus.
Ephesians 6:4. Bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.
You have to model it. You have to live it to give it. No other way. It’s caught more than taught. They need to catch you loving Jesus. They need to see you in church. They need to see you praying. They need to know that you trust God through tough times.
One wag said, “Truth is more permanently transferred from a parent’s life than his lips. Modeling the truth far outweighs preaching it to the young.”
In the opening lines of “Blue Like Jazz, Donald Miller makes an important discovery,
“I never liked Jazz music because Jazz music doesn’t resolve. But I was outside the Bagdad Theater in Portland one night when I saw a man playing the saxophone. I stood there for fifteen minutes, and he never opened his eyes.
After that I liked jazz music.
Sometimes you have to watch somebody love something before you can love it yourself. It is as if they are showing you the way.”