Parenting in a Changing World – Part 4
The Principle of Unconditional Service: How to develop a life in which the world has no hold.
Earlier in this series, we discussed the myth of the perfect parent, the need to set the standard, and the importance of unconditional love. This last principle upon which every parent must stand is the principle of unconditional service.
In a culture where the approval of man is the ultimate goal, life is futile. It is a life focused on pleasing others which, long-term, is impossible to do. For by nature, man is fickle, self-absorbed, and vain. In contrast, for the life in which the ultimate goal is to love and to serve God, heaven on earth is within reach.
Teaching our children how to flow along God’s path of service, preparing them for a life of favor and blessing, takes some thought. For this path requires a strong spirit and unyielding resolve. It means that we must equip our children with the tools necessary to resist the pressures of the world, not surrendering to the will of peers. In short, we must ensure that our children become not followers – but leaders.
On the playground, critical comments and harsh words run rampant. The wrong brand of clothing, an out-of-style haircut, a unique name, or an unfamiliar accent, can exclude a child from play for an entire school year. What better place for young children to exercise a strong spirit of grace than in an environment rich with opportunities and need.
So how do we teach our children to become champions? How do we build scaffolding upon which they can hold steady in the midst of pressure and coercion?
- by daily encouragement,
- by validating their efforts as they follow their hearts,
- by teaching them to yield to compassion,
- by building their confidence and knowledge about who they are in God,
- by involving them in family efforts of service, and
- by expecting them to rise above the ways of the world.
The following true story is a simple illustration to this end.
One Teacher’s Account:
The newscaster said more snow was on the way. At the end of the broadcast he reminded all the children to help uncover the fire hydrants in their neighborhoods since most were under ten feet of piled snow.
My brother and I raced to the porch, sifted through an array of assorted mittens, grabbed two snow shovels and headed out the door. What better way to begin a snow day than a brisk walk past the school bus stop without books and lunches? About half way up the street we began to dig away at the heap of snow, knowing that somewhere in the vicinity a fire hydrant stood.
As the winter’s chill invaded my toes, I abandoned my brother and headed home. On my way, a local policeman drove slowly past me, making his rounds. As he approached the half exposed fire hydrant now behind me, I saw him fumble with something. He did not stop but continued up the street. About an hour later, as my brother walked back home, he found a dollar bill that the officer had dropped on the road. Fifty years ago, a dollar was a considerable sum of money.
I never forgot the incident: the kind policeman rewarding the young citizen; the young citizen doing his civic duty even though no one would know; and the younger sister, preferring comfort over others. Where were the other neighborhood children? Where was their unyielding resolve to serve?
A life dedicated to service,
- to healing the broken-hearted,
- to mending wounds,
- to ministering good words and encouragement,
- to yielding to compassion, and
- to teaching forgiveness,
is a life in which the world has no hold. It is a life of purpose – free of fear, free of worry, and filled with God.
It is all that life can be, and it belongs to our children.I Peter, Chapter 5: Verses 3-11
– End –