I love a good discussion with a friend over a steaming cup of chai, but since I can’t gather all of you at a comfortable cafe, I’ll have to be content with this little corner of the Internet.
I want to thank each and every person who has come to these coffee chats and commented. I have thoroughly enjoyed your insights and inspiration! Thank you for your time.
Read previous coffee chats under the “discussion” category or click here.
It has always mystified me how a godly parent can have awful children and how awful people end up with godly children. The most common answer is, of course, that people make their own choices in spite of upbringing. While that maxim is certainly true, it still shocks me when I read about Eli, Samuel, David and their children. The accounts of all three families are sobering.
Eli’s sons 1 Samuel 2:12-36
Now the sons of Eli were worthless men. They did not know the Lord.
1 Samuel 2.12
If you click on the passage, it will take you to the full context so that you can read, in detail, the wicked deeds of Eli’s sons. In that scripture, it details how they “treated the offering of the Lord with contempt,” and that they would “lay with the women who were serving at the entrance to the tent of meeting.” Eli rebuked them, but he did not stop them and it was within his power to do so.
Samuel’s sons 1 Samuel 8:1-5
Yet [Samuel’s] sons did not walk in his ways but turned aside after gain. They took bribes and perverted justice.
1 Samuel 8.3, ESV
The people of Israel were so frustrated with Samuel’s sons that they demanded a king!
- Amnon – 2 Samuel 13 (Amnon raped his stepsister)
- Adonijah – 1 Kings 1:5-7 (Adonijah set himself up as king without authorization from David)
Now, those three men—Eli, Samuel and David—were recognized as godly men, but the state of their households was deplorable! They pleased God, and yet it appears they neglected to instruct their children in the ways of the Lord.
I know of instances in which missionaries, preachers or pastors decide they are going to do some “great work” and they go on to accomplish great things in the name of the Lord… but while they are off changing the world, they leave their families behind to crumble from neglect. Is this acceptable to God? Is this how God wants us to put Him first?
It’s an interesting conundrum. In the book of Matthew, Jesus talks about the need to put God above family.
“Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword.
For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household.
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.
When two people choose to be married, that relationship is a covenant relationship. Vows are made between two people before God and other witnesses that they would love, honor and cherish one another under every circumstance while they are both living. There will be times in which that commitment requires one spouse or the other to set other obligations aside. When a couple decides to bring children in the world, those children are entrusted to their care (unless for some reason both parents are suddenly killed). We are told repeatedly to train our children in the ways of the Lord. Training children up in the way of the Lord is putting God first while still caring for the needs of those children. The two are not mutually exclusive.
God told the Israelites that they were to teach their children, and we know how well they did that… (sarcasm intended):
“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.
And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart.
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.
Here are some cut-and-dry scenarios:
- Your kid’s Sports/Extra-curricular activities on Sunday or… worship? (Ahem. Worship, of course!)
- Your child doesn’t want to go to Bible class because it’s boring. In order to keep peace, you decide to stay home. (Negative! They are under your roof and you are charged with teaching them. Don’t be wishy-washy!)
- Your child or spouse or parent has a medical emergency or illness and you are missing services or losing out on bible reading or class to care for them. (Yes!)
Here is where the gray area emerges: I have read about (and observed) missionaries and preachers so engrossed in working for the Lord that their families are neglected. Their care for a congregation is phenomenal and the church is thriving, but their children don’t love the Lord. The spouse begins to seek affection elsewhere. They may be doing a great work for the Lord, but what about their family? I read the story of one woman who was sent off to boarding school so her parents could go be missionaries in a foreign country. Apparently this was not an uncommon practice in the early twentieth century. Would you entrust the teaching and raising of your child to someone else so that you could go off and teach the gospel? Which one is right?? If you take your children with you, will you be able to care for them physically and spiritually? I’ve read about it being done successfully from time to time. Again, how do you find balance?
Maybe you aren’t a preacher or missionary, but you are very involved with your local congregation. Are you still meeting the spiritual and physical needs of your own children?
As a blogger trying to share the Word of God with others, are there times you have to set aside your blog to care for the needs of your family?
Maybe you have the opposite problem and you make excuses not to do this or that because you have to take care of family. (I will be the first to admit that I have been guilty of this in the past.)
I firmly believe that our walk with God and care for our family should be intertwined, but the how is not always clear.
How do we uphold our commitments to our families in a way that honors God without neglecting the work that God has for us outside the home?
How do we achieve balance?