Shepherding Away from Wrong Influences

A short time ago I was speaking with a co-worker, whom I’ll call Bob, about his son who is involved in a very serious problem. He said his son was saddened by a family who wouldn’t let their son associate with his son anymore because of this problem. Bob said he understood how the other parents felt, and he didn’t hold it against them. However, his son might not be in trouble now, had Bob exercised the same judgment at a previous point in time.

You see, Bob’s son’s trouble stemmed from his friendship with a fourteen-year-old young man. This young man had a history of this kind of problem, and yet Bob didn’t discourage his son from the friendship. Now, as Bob looks back, he can see how costly his lack of protecting his son will be.

Proverbs 22:24 says, “Make no friendship with an angry man; and with a furious man thou shalt not go.” Otherwise we will learn his ways. We are also not to join with the rebellious, or we too will pay the consequences. Proverbs 24:21, “My son, fear thou the LORD and the king: and meddle not with them that are given to change.” These principles hold true for us as parents and certainly even more for our children. Children are extremely impressionable, and that is why negative peer pressure and other wrong influences are very dangerous.

I know some will say that young people have to learn to deal with the world; you can’t shelter them forever. However, aren’t our children more precious than young, tender plants that are raised in a greenhouse until they are mature and able to stand the environment? We don’t put a plant out in a violent thunderstorm for just a little while so it can get used to the wind and hail. It would be permanently injured. The same is true for our children. They must be protected until they have a strong foundation and have matured.

God’s role is for the father to be the protector of the family. We must be on guard for all types of threats. Certainly, the top of the list is wrong friends. They often appear to be nice and well behaved. Do you remember Eddy from “Leave It to Beaver”? He was nice while he was around the parents, but was a terrible influence the rest of the time. Your children may have friends who sow seeds of discontent with home education. Is it any wonder when your children then become discontented?

There are problems with wrong books, TV, and computer games. I am incredulous to find fathers who let their sons play the latest popular computer games. Some are very hideous and violent. Are we so naïve as to believe our children won’t be affected? Do we forget that companies spend millions of dollars for sixty-second commercials to influence people’s buying habits?

So, dads, are we being the shepherds that God has called us to be? Are we aware of what our children are reading, playing, watching, and who they are playing with? If so, are we certain that these influences will be for our children’s good? We will all give an accounting to the Lord someday for what kind of stewards we have been with these treasures God has entrusted us with.

Right Thinking

Resting in the quiet of the afternoon following a turbulent morning of peacemaking between Joseph (6), John (4), and Anna (2), I was cuddled up in my recliner chair. A heavy heart, jumbled mind, Bible, and notebook were my companions as my pen titled the page, “Thinking Right Thoughts When Discouraged and Worn Out by My Children’s Unkindness to Each Other.” Five “thoughts” soon filled the recently empty lines.

Number one: Every mother faces these same problems. Do you take any comfort in knowing my children fuss with each other? As I prayed about the situation, God reminded me every child is just like mine, and every mother must deal with the same things. None of us enjoys having children squabble. I need to change my mindset to expect the unkindness and be thrilled if any kind deed comes from them, rather than expect the kindness and be discouraged when it doesn’t happen.

Number two: God is developing my character as much as He is working in their lives. We say this often, but I have to keep telling it to myself. God is as much concerned with my learning to be patient, kind, loving, and gentle as He is in my children developing these qualities. What frequent opportunities He gives me to learn them, practice them, and even fail at them (thereby gaining humility and therefore God’s grace through my failures).

Number three: God is developing my faith, as I trust Him to do this work since I can’t myself. I can consistently train and teach my children. I can be an example to them, but it is God who works in their lives just as He works in mine. Therefore, my eyes must be on my Lord and my faith rooted in His working in their lives in His time. As a mother with both older and younger children I have proof of this as I have seen Nathan, Christopher, and Sarah develop more godly attitudes toward each other as they have grown up.

Number four: God is teaching me to rest in Him since my strength and will cannot bring it to pass. If I could, I would certainly force my children to have godly attitudes toward each other, and I do try. The truth is I can command some measure of outward conformity to the standard, but I cannot change a selfish heart. God is the One who does that, but He wants me to rest in Him as I wait for His timing. I can even trust that through the bickering He is working good in my life and theirs. We have talked about developing character in my life, but even the child who is being wronged in a disagreement is growing in character through it.

Number five: My greatest goal–even more than my goal to have a peaceful home and loving children–needs to be to teach my children to love God. Often the squabbles in our home make me focus more on peace and quiet than on the goal of turning my children’s hearts toward loving their heavenly Father. As we focus on loving God, certainly a by-product of that, in time, will be children who have servant’s hearts and are willing to give up their rights.

I find I can get so overpowered by thoughts and feelings of discouragement that I have to sit down and write truth out, like I did here, to bring my perspective back where it should be. Then I have to control my mind to think the truth when situations arise that trigger discouragement. In the midst of the emotions it is hard for me to do.

Usually, the change in thinking comes when I get down on my knees, cry out to God for His forgiveness for my self-focus, and ask for His help in my thinking truth. I pray each of you will use these situations you face with your children to see the benefits He is working for both you and them.