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To be honest, I would rather not write this post, but it needs to be written. It needs to be written because this problem plagues nearly every Christian family in the world. In nearly every one of our families there is someone who at one point pledged his or her allegiance to King Jesus by being baptized, but is now living in shameless rebellion to Christ. Should we just mind our own business? Should we rebuke them? Should we shun them? How would Jesus want us to handle these situations?
Pray without Ceasing
Before we say or do anything, we need to pray. We need to be like Epaphras, who “struggled” in prayer on behalf of those he loved (Colossians 4:12). Are your prayers for your family members like wrestling matches with God? Do you plead with God in tears that He “may perhaps grant them repentance” (2 Timothy 2:25)?
Pray for them, pray for yourself to know how to respond, ask others to pray for them, and ask others to pray for you. Saturate the situation in prayer.
Love Them Unconditionally
Many of us have a skewed view of what love looks like. Some people think love looks like enabling people or celebrating their behavior. Others think they are being loving when they are verbally “putting someone in their place.” Listen very carefully to the words of 1 Corinthians 13:4-7:
Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Love is unconditional, but it does not rejoice at wrongdoing. Love tells people the truth, but it is never arrogant or rude. Love is always patient and kind. No matter how angry or sad your family member’s sin makes you, be committed to loving them.
Ask lots of questions. Don’t assume you have everything figured out. Speak kindly. Be patient. Give the benefit of the doubt. This is what love looks like. Remember that loving someone is less about how you feel and more about what you do and say.
Choose Your Battles Wisely
It is also incredibly important to define what it means to persist in sin. There will always be personal convictions about which you disagree; things you think your family members are doing wrong, because their behavior clashes with your culture, traditions, or inferences. Romans 14 and 15 teaches us how to handle these kind of disagreements.
Furthermore, your family members will make mistakes along the way, just like you make mistakes. It is loving, and to your glory, to overlook people’s offenses (Proverbs 19:11). You don’t have to “make a federal case” out of every little thing someone does wrong.
What we are talking about here is when a family member is unashamedly engaging in things like sexual immorality, idolatry, adultery, homosexual behavior, theft, greed, drunkenness, abusive behavior, or extortion (1 Corinthians 6:9-10). In other words, when a family member is on a path of spiritual self-destruction, that’s when something needs to be said and done.
Families Need Strong Fathers and Mothers
American culture has really distorted our view of the way families are supposed to work. We have almost completely abandoned the idea of patriarchs and matriarchs. We tend to believe that once a son or daughter reaches adulthood, they should be free to make their own decisions without interference. My question would be, where did we get that idea?
In the biblical culture, the head of the household exercised a great deal of influence over adult family members (Acts 10:2; 16:15; 16:34; 18:8). Furthermore, adult children were expected to honor and even obey their parents (Romans 1:30; 2 Timothy 3:2). As far as God is concerned, parenting should not stop when a child becomes an adult. It changes, but it must not stop.
Joshua was an old man when he declared, “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” (Joshua 24:15). We need patriarchs and matriarchs who will have the boldness to spiritually lead their families, who will admonish their children, who will exercise godly family discipline when their children are living unruly lives, who will love their children enough to say, “If you’re going to choose that lifestyle then you’re choosing to separate yourself from this family.”
Take it to the Elders
At some point, parents – who have done everything within their power to correct their children – may have to take the matter to the elders of the church. Under the Old Testament, God’s covenant people had to do the same (see Deuteronomy 21:18-21). In that case, the discipline was far more severe; but for our children’s own sake, we need to allow the community of Jesus to hold them accountable.
What an absolutely heartbreaking situation it would be to have to go to the elders of the church and say, “I cannot correct my son’s behavior. I need the church to join me in discipling him.” But we must do this when necessary “so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord” (1 Corinthians 5:5).
But remember, whether the family member is being disciplined by the family or by the church, we must never “regard him as an enemy, but warn him as a brother” (2 Thessalonians 3:15). The goal is NOT punishment, but repentance.
Rejoice at the First Sign of Repentance
Jesus’ story of the prodigal son in Luke 15 is one of Jesus’ most referenced – and most misunderstood – parables. The father in the story isn’t just a picture of God, but a picture of how God’s people ought to respond when family members repent.
The father didn’t wait until the son had made his way all the way home. He didn’t wait until the son had cleaned himself up. He didn’t make his son prove his sincerity or go through a probationary period. No, when the father saw the son taking even the smallest steps of repentance, he ran to meet him and threw a party!
That’s how we have to treat our family members. We have to be loving enough to let them walk away in sin, if that’s what they choose to do. But as soon as they take even the smallest step of repentance, we must run to meet them in forgiveness and reconciliation.
Let’s take a moment right now and pray for the prodigals. Pray that they come back home and that they receive a warm welcome while they’re still on their way!
Today’s post is part four of our “Re-Examined Series,” in which we are taking a look at some well-known passages that may not mean what we’ve tried to make the mean over the years. Today we will re-examine Proverbs 22:6, “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.” Honestly, I’ve been shocked this week as I’ve dug deeper into this verse. Let’s look at it together.
How It’s Often Read
One way people read this passage is a promise that if you teach your children about God, they will be faithful to Him in adulthood. Sadly, this has caused a lot of pain and sorrow for parents whose children have left the faith. They wonder, “Did I not train them in the way they should go? Is this my fault?” Or, worse yet, they wonder why God broke His promise.
Trying to move away from that interpretation, many have suggested that the phrase, “The way he should go” is specific to each individual child. In other words, they believe this passage is more about training a child to embrace his or her own unique gifts and talents; finding the path that God has for him or her as an individual.
After examining the words and phrases in this passage, it seems to me that both of these interpretations miss the mark.
The Context of Proverbs
First, the book of Proverbs is NOT a book of promises. We shouldn’t read the Proverbs as saying, “If you do X, then God promises Y will always happen as a result.” Rather, the book of Proverbs is a book of wise sayings, phrased in such a way as to be pithy and memorable. When taken as a whole, these proverbs help God’s covenant people – especially young people – develop a heartfelt appreciation for wise, righteous, and godly living.
Each proverb captures and encapsulates a particular truth about wise living and expresses it in poetic form, Hebrew parallelism. Obviously, no single proverb can exhaust the subject it addresses (and it isn’t attempting to do so). Each proverb is simply saying, “If you remember, and live by this truth, you and the people around you will have a much better life.”
Proverbs 22:6 begins with the Hebrew word, “hanak.” This word appears in three other verses in the Old Testament (Deuteronomy 20:5; 1 Kings 8:63; 2 Chronicles 7:5). Interestingly, every other time this word is used, it is not translated, “train up,” it is translated, “dedicate.” It means to get something started or initiate something.
So the first part of the Proverb is about starting a child off in a certain direction or starting him on a path.
“In the Way He [Should] Go”
The next phrase is very interesting. The word “should” does not actually appear in the original Hebrew at all. The phrase literally means, “in his way.”
The Hebrew word for “way” appears 69 times in the book of Proverbs. It is used to describe BOTH the way of wickedness (e.g. Proverbs 12:26) and the way of righteousness (e.g. Proverbs 13:6). Essentially, it is a road or path metaphor that simply describes a manner of life.
What Does It Mean?
So if you take what we’ve discovered, the literal reading of Proverbs 22:6 would read something like, “Initiate a child on his path; even when he is old he will not depart from it.” It seems to simply mean we are set on a path as children and we seldom deviate from that path.
This proverb could be a warning. It could warn me, as a parent, if I allow my children to follow the “way that seems right” to them (Proverbs 14:12), I will have a hard time getting them off that path when they become adults. After all, the path that children are naturally inclined to follow is a path of foolishness and it takes discipline to keep children from going down that path (Proverbs 22:15).
On the other hand, it could be an encouragement to “dedicate” or “initiate” children on the path of holiness, righteousness, and wisdom when they are young. In other words, get a child started on his path of doing right when he is young; it will be harder to get him off that path when he is an adult.
Another possibility is that this proverb is intentionally ambiguous in order to highlight the malleability of children and the challenge of getting adults to change their ways once they’re on a particular path. Either way, there is a lot of wisdom in this one little proverb and God’s people would do well to meditate on it and apply it to our lives.
Over the next few weeks, I want to do a series of posts in which we “re-examine” some familiar verses of the Bible. Today we will consider Psalm 127:3-5, “Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth. Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them!” Christian parenting experts love to quote this passage, but often miss the real meaning of the passage.
How the Passage is Often Read
I’ve heard multiple parenting experts stretch and stretch the metaphor of children being like “arrows in the hand of a warrior.” They suppose this means children, like arrows, were created to be launched out into the world. They believe this passage implies that children are not supposed to stay connected to their parents, but rather are supposed to be shot out into the world like an arrow shot from a bow.
Never considering for a moment that this metaphor might point to a different truth, parenting experts spend pages and pages saying it is a biblical mandate to take careful aim and launch children out on their own.
In our culture, we believe young people should move away from home and “discover” themselves. We think they need a clean break from mom and dad. We don’t think parents should arrange their children’s marriages or continue to influence them when they become adults. But the way communities, economies, and families worked in ancient Israel and the way they work today are very different.
Consider the biblical families with which you are familiar. Sons would become hardworking adult men, take wives, and have children, but they typically did not move away from their father’s property or influence. They stayed to help and support the family. Whether in the days of the patriarchs or the days of the kings, families typically stuck together.
In fact, much of the Law required families to remain in close proximity. The land in Israel was parceled out to tribes and families. If a family member fell on hard times and had to sell his property, close relatives needed to be close by to redeem the land for their kinsman. If a brother died without leaving a child, the brother would marry the widow so that the brother’s heritage would not be cut off.
Much of the world still operates in a similar fashion. Can you imagine how ridiculous it would be to tell a poor villager in some other part of the world that he is supposed to send his children away once they reach adulthood? Can you imagine telling him, children shouldn’t be expected to stay and help the family, but should be encouraged to go and find their own independent path?
While our modern American way of thinking may not be sinful, it is definitely shaped more by culture than Scripture.
These two psalms are songs of ascent; songs the Jews probably sang on their annual trips up to Jerusalem. These two psalms remind people that God provides for those who fear Him. They call people to put their trust in the Lord, rather than trusting in the work of their own hands.
You might sum up the psalms this way: It doesn’t matter how hard you work, if you don’t fear the Lord, all your labor will be in vain; but those who fear the Lord will be made prosperous and secure.
Although the Hebrew word, “ben” in this passage certainly can mean “children,” it literally means, “sons.” That is probably more accurate in this case.
The psalmist says a man’s “sons” are given to him by the Lord, and they are like arrows in his hand or in his quiver. He concludes the metaphor by telling us why sons are like arrows. A father with many sons, “shall not be put to shame when he speaks with his enemies in the gate” (Psalm 127:5).
In that day and age, sons meant security. When you faced your enemies in the gate, whether in a legal or a military dispute, many sons ensured that you would not be “put to shame.” Having many sons would be like a warrior having many arrows for his protection and defense.
But again, the emphasis is not on the fact that security and safety come from sons in and of themselves. Safety and security come from the Lord, since sons, “are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward” (Psalm 127:3).
This doesn’t necessarily mean children have to stay in their hometown or not go off and live their own lives. Although, if an adult child gets too disconnected from their parents, and does not provide for their parents’ welfare, they have “denied the faith” and are “worse than an unbeliever” (1 Timothy 5:8). We don’t have to pretend we still live in ancient Israel, but we must make sure we don’t fail to honor our parents because of our American customs and traditions (Matthew 15:1-9).
All that being said, the application of Psalm 127 is pretty simple and powerful: You can wear yourself out with your career, your kids, or anything else — but if the Lord isn’t at the center of everything you do, it will all be for nothing. So, fear the Lord and He will bless you.
And, of course, we know that in Christ the blessings are even sweeter.
If you know me and my family personally, you probably know my nine-year-old son loves baseball. He watches nearly every Texas Rangers’ game on television (or lies in bed listening to them on the radio), he pitches for his Little League team, he could sit and talk about baseball for hours on end, and it’s a rare occasion that he does not have some sort of ball in his hand (even in the house). But I strongly believe Christian families need to exercise caution when their children have athletic talent and passion.
The Idolatry of Sports
I believe anything can become an idol and I think a good definition of idolatry is, “Feeling about some thing the way you should only feel about God.” Idolatry is believing, deep down in your heart, that you cannot be whole without this thing in your life. In other words, this thing makes life worth living. So, it’s not hard to see how Americans idolize sports:
Are the gigantic stadiums we construct really very different from ancient temples?
Aren’t professional athletes sort of like priests, who intercede with the sport on our behalf?
Don’t Americans watch, listen to, and read about sports religiously?
Doesn’t our favorite team playing seem to trump everything else in our lives?
Isn’t our emotional state dependent on the performance of our team?
Don’t many Americans believe sports make life worth living?
I don’t want my son to idolize baseball. I don’t want him to think baseball makes life worth living. I don’t want him to believe he can’t be whole without baseball. I want him to know baseball could disappear overnight and everything would be just fine.
Don’t get me wrong. I want him to play baseball and enjoy it as long as he wants to; but at the end of the day, I want him to remember that it is a game…not a god.
The Priority of Jesus
When I was a kid, my mother used to tell me, “You can only have one priority.” There can only be one thing that’s most important in your life. There can only be one thing that takes precedence over everything else. As a father, I am determined that baseball will NOT be our family’s priority.
In Matthew 10:37-39, Jesus said this about being His follower:
Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.
If Jesus was talking to us today, wouldn’t He say, “Whoever loves baseball or soccer more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves football or basketball more than me is not worthy of me”? Jesus and His kingdom must be our priority. Everything else must be considered “rubbish” in comparison (Philippians 3:8).
Every Christian family must decide how they will go about making sure sports never become idols in their homes. We all must make sure that in our own hearts, and in the hearts of our children, some mascot does not sit on the throne where Christ should be seated. We must not allow sports to rule over our lives, dictating our schedules and determining our emotional state. We are going to have to turn off some games and verbally declare, “Sports are not an ultimate thing in our home.”
We are going to have to be incredibly intentional to spend far more time, money, and energy on the things of Jesus Christ than we do on sports. Children intuitively understand what is most important in your home. They pick up on the verbal, and non-verbal, cues about what takes precedence. They can tell if games and practices are more important to us than worship, Bible study, evangelism, and service to others. It isn’t just the sermons we preach with our mouths, but the sermons we preach with our wallets and our calendars.
As my boys grow, I have to constantly ask myself the rhetorical question, “Am I raising athletes or Christians?”
We have a tendency to think of Christianity in very individualistic ways, “If I want to be a Christian, that is between me and God; and if I don’t want to be a Christian, that is between me and God.” But the truth is, your decision to follow Jesus – or not follow Jesus – will affect far more than your own eternal life. Your decision could bless – or devastate – your descendants for countless generations.
My Heritage of Faith
In some families there is a heritage of higher education, athleticism, or military service. In my family, however, there is a heritage of faith. Both of my parents, all four of my grandparents, some of my great-grandparents, and even a few of my great-great-grandparents were Christians.
From generation to generation, they passed down a knowledge of, and a love for, the gospel. That inheritance is worth far more to me than if I had been born the heir of a multi-million dollar estate. Their commitment to passing down the faith has helped to ensure that I know the Lord and will live forever with Him.
But it really isn’t about me; it’s about my children and my children’s children. My sons are receiving this heritage from my family and from my wife’s family. Nearly all of the family my boys know – their cousins, their grandparents, their aunts and their uncles – are members of the body of Christ.
This is a legacy I hope and pray they do not take for granted.
A Resurrection Reunion
When the Lord returns, I am confident that He will resurrect the vast majority of my family to eternal life; and it thrills my soul to consider how wonderful that Day will be. I realize that in the resurrection our relationships will be different (Matthew 22:30), but I sincerely hope we will be able to experience a resurrection family reunion.
I want to meet those who’ve gone before me and I want to meet those who will hopefully come after me. I want my great-great-grandmother to meet my great-great-grandson. I want to thank my ancestors for bringing up their children in the discipline and instruction of the Lord; and I want to thank my descendants for honoring their fathers and mothers by keeping the faith.
I pray that neither I, nor my children, nor my children’s children do anything to disinherit ourselves and miss out on that great resurrection reunion.
It Only Takes One Generation
The faith that has been passed down to me began with one person from one generation. They probably didn’t realize it at the time, but they were beginning a legacy. And perhaps you are the first in your family to walk with the Lord. Perhaps yours will be the first generation of many to come.
If you are a Christian parent, then realize your job is spectacularly important. You cannot, of course, guarantee that your children become Christians, but you can do everything within your power to show them why Jesus is worth following. There is no higher calling in this world than ensuring your children have the opportunity to hear the Good News about Jesus.
As you discipline, as you instruct, as you strive not to “provoke your children to anger,” as you pick up toys and help with algebra homework – remember that you are part of something much bigger than yourself. You are helping to ensure that another generation has the opportunity to seize the baton of faith and pass it down to another generation.
And just as it only takes one generation to start a legacy, it only takes one generation to destroy a legacy. The second generation of Israelites in the Promised Land “did not know the Lord or the work that he had done for Israel” (Judges 2:10). Some of that was probably that generation’s fault and some was probably the fault of their parents’ generation. Regardless, their unfaithfulness had dire consequences for many generations to come.
The point is this: we have to start thinking about Christianity generationally. We have to see the big picture. We have to take what we have heard and “entrust” it to others, “who will be able to teach others also” (2 Timothy 2:2). This is true in the church, as well as our families.
Families are not just a mom, a dad, and the kids. Families are grandparents, aunts and uncles, cousins, and grandchildren. We want everyone to be citizens of the heavenly kingdom. We want everyone to be resurrected to life. Our “waiting for new heavens and a new earth” (2 Peter 3:13) should be a family affair.
So just remember, as Christians, we all have an obligation to the next generation.
It finally happened. I was teaching a children’s Bible class of 3rd-5th graders, when one of the boys said something like, “I can’t be descended from Adam and Eve, because Adam and Eve were white.” I thanked him for bringing that up and used his comment as an opportunity to address the fact that although Bible story books almost always depict Adam and Eve as Caucasian, the books are simply wrong. I’ve been saying for years, we need to stop illustrating everyone in the Bible as white.
The Human Race
One of the major themes of Scripture is that the entire human race is descended from Adam. Not only does Genesis teach this, so does Jesus and so does the apostle Paul. In Athens, Paul said that God “made from one man every nation of mankind” (Acts 17:26).
Simple genetics tell us if Adam and Eve had both been white, then no matter how many offspring they had, all their descendants would be white. Since mankind is obviously made up of many different skin colors, Adam and Eve could NOT have been white. Adam and Eve likely had a “middle-brown” skin color (source).
Many centuries after Adam, a man named Noah came on the scene. The account of the flood tells us the human family was reduced to eight people: Noah, his wife, his three sons, and their wives. Again, if all eight of these people were Caucasian, the entire human race would be Caucasian. It’s possible that those eight people were diverse in skin colors.
Wouldn’t that be absolutely fantastic to see a children’s Bible story book depicting Noah’s family as “interracial”? If that offends you in any way, perhaps you ought to remember what the story of Noah is all about. It is about the interracial human family being saved through those eight people.
Adam, Eve, Noah, Noah’s family, and the rest of the people in Scripture were real people. We don’t know what they all looked like, but surely we know they weren’t all white. To depict our ancestors as all white people is not only inaccurate, it also has unintended consequences.
Why It Matters
My entire life I’ve seen people insist on accuracy in children’s Bible story books; everything from the animal that swallowed Jonah to the way in which Noah’s ark is depicted. I think it’s great that we try to make our children’s material as accurate as possible.
But when it comes to the issue of skin color – even when people are presented with the truth that people like Adam and Eve could not possibly have been white – very few people seem determined to set the record straight. They seem to care more about accuracy in other areas than in this area. Many seem more concerned that the fruit in the Garden of Eden is always depicted as an apple, than about the fact that Adam and Eve are always white.
Shouldn’t we be more concerned about helping “all the children of the world” know we are all part of the same human family? Isn’t that more important than some of the other details over which we often stress? I don’t know how much it really matters if kids understand what the ark looked like, but I know for a fact it matters that children understand Noah’s family is our family – the human family.
All children – “red and yellow, black and white” – need to know they are part of the human family who was created by God through Adam. They need to know they are part of the human family who was preserved through Noah. They need to know they are part of the human family for whom Jesus died on the cross.
Racism continues to divide us and we need to do a better job of helping young children understand we are all part of the same human family. We all came from the same people. We were all created by – and are loved by – the same God.
What Should We Do About It?
I am not saying there was any maliciousness in the way illustrators have depicted Adam, Eve, Noah, and others over the years. I think it was done innocently enough. I think most people just didn’t know, or didn’t ever stop to think about it. But just because it was done innocently and in ignorance, does not mean it is ok for it to continue uncorrected.
I think we need to do everything we can, not only to start producing children’s books and materials that teach the truth, but also to go out of our way to explain the truth to our children when we see inaccurate pictures. When I see a picture of Adam and Eve, I often take a moment to ask my boys, “Is that right? Did Adam and Eve really look like that?”
When I was a youth minister, I took a group of teens to a stage production of “Noah” in Branson, Missouri. After the show I asked the teens if they noticed anything wrong with the play. They mentioned a few things they thought were doctrinally skewed. Then I asked them, “What did you think of the fact that everyone in the play was white?” I don’t think they had ever considered that before, but it gave us the opportunity to talk about the issue.
Of course it would be better if we would change the way we illustrate Bible story books and children’s curriculum, but in the meantime, we can use the inaccurate pictures to start conversations with young people and set the record straight.
One way or the other, we have to help everyone realize the Bible is about the Creator’s relationship to the entire human race, not just one group of the human race.
We often commend mothers by saying they have, “the most important job in the world.” While I will be the first to say mothers have an incredibly important – and difficult – job, I believe we need to rethink calling it, “the most important job in the world.” While this phrase is meant to be complimentary, I believe it has several unintended consequences.
An Incredibly Important Job
Let me say again, being a mother is an incredibly important job. Particularly when done according to the will of God. Being a Christian mother means not only bringing a child into the world, but helping to bring a child into the faith.
I think often about how the apostle Paul commended the grandmother and mother of his young protégé, Timothy. Paul wrote to Timothy, “I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well” (2 Timothy 1:5). A Christian mother helps to instill a “sincere faith” in her children and that job is so very important.
So please do not take what I’m about to say as an attempt to diminish the importance of mothers.
Comparing Ourselves to One Another
The problem with saying, “Being a mother is the most important job in the world,” is that it is a comparative statement and we almost always get ourselves in trouble when we compare ourselves to others. Consider this excellent tweet from Rachel Cruze:
Comparison not only changes our attitude, but our relationship with the people we are comparing ourselves to.
Comparison changes “our relationship with the people we are comparing ourselves to.” When a mother compares herself to all the people who are not mothers, it automatically changes her relationship with all of those people. In this case, she is saying she happens to do a more important job.
Within the church, we all have different jobs, but we do not have more important – or less important – jobs. Scripture says the church is a body and each member is a different part of the body. Each part has its own important job to fulfill.
How would we feel if other people said their job was the most important job in the world? “There are many parts, yet one body” (1 Corinthians 12:20b).
The Father’s Job
In my experience, the person who usually says, “Being a mother is the most important job in the world,” is usually not a mother, it is a father. I’ve heard countless men praise their wives in this manner. And of course, these men are to be commended for acknowledging the hard work of their wives, but what are they saying about their own jobs?
It’s no wonder fathers have been made to feel their job is less important. Almost every family sitcom for the last 20 years has had a father who is bumbling idiot. The mother is the competent parent and the father is the comic relief. Is it any wonder then, so many men do very little to assist their wives in the role of parenting when they hear constantly that their job really isn’t that important?
Scripture paints quite a different picture. When parents are told to bring their children up “in the discipline and instruction of the Lord,” it is to the fathers that this command is specifically addressed (Ephesians 6:4). God is not ok with men taking a backseat in the parenting process. He is not ok with us politely telling our wives, “You’re the one with the important job; I would just get in your way if I tried to help.” Dads, we need to step up and realize our job is just as important as our wife’s job.
There was an interesting study done that showed if a mother “attends church regularly,” but the father does not attend at all, only “2% of their children will end up attending church regularly” (source). We’ve got to stop telling Christian fathers their job is not as important as their wife’s job. And Christian fathers, we’ve got to stop believing that lie.
Some dads need to be told, What your wife would appreciate more than you saying she has the most important job in the world is you realizing how important your job is and doing it.
The Women Without Children
On Mother’s Day, countless well-meaning preachers will likely give a sermon about the women who are doing, “the most important job in the world.” And I can’t imagine how heart-wrenching those words are to those women who do not – or cannot – have children.
What are we telling single women or women who have been trying unsuccessfully to conceive? Are we telling them, “No matter how you contribute to the work of the church, it can never match the importance of women who are mothers”? How wrong and how cruel for us to give this impression.
With the biblical accounts of women like Hannah and Rachel, you would think we would be more sensitive to this issue. You would think we would realize just how hard it can be on some women simply being childless, but we add insult to injury by telling them mothers have the “most important job in the world.” And that statement is not only untrue, it’s hurtful.
Women who are faithfully serving the church in other capacities are doing jobs that are just as important as the women who are raising children. I think we need to be more sensitive to these ladies. If we’re going to publicly recognize the job mothers do, we need to recognize the jobs the childless women do as well.
The Bottom Line
The bottom line is this, mothers have an important job. Fathers have an important job. Christians without children have important jobs. We need to stop trying to figure out who has “the most important job.”
Let’s all just do the good works God prepared beforehand for us to do (Ephesians 2:10). The good works you were created in Christ Jesus to do are important, whatever they are. So “whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31).