In the last post we looked at the fact that although parenting is challenging, we can be hopeful as we learn how our heavenly Father relates to us. We noted the importance of Affirming our Kid’s Value. Next we’ll see that we need to…
Entrust Them with Responsibility
Nothing brings out the best in people faster than having somebody believe in you and having somebody trust you with responsibility. Jesus pointed this out. He said the way that we grow is by being given responsibility.
In Luke 16 He says this “Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much…And if you have not been trustworthy with someone else’s property, who will give you property of your own?” Wise leaders and parents know this principle.
People respond to responsibility. Kids respond to responsibility. We all need places where we can grow and be trusted and prove ourselves, develop and blossom. One of the most important life skills is learning to accept responsibility. The only way you can learn that life skill is by being given the opportunity to show responsibility.
The very first church I served in I was asked to be a youth pastor. I knew little about ministry or youth work. The pastor of that church and the church said, we trust you. So go for it. Do whatever it takes to reach kids for Christ.” With that, I went out and tried all kinds of stuff. We reached many teenagers for Christ. I learned some lessons that helped me today. If I hadn’t had a guy to believe in me like that, some of those early lessons would have taken me many years to learn. But because he gave me the room to grow, he gave me the room to try, room to make mistakes, I was able to blossom and to grow.
Jesus did this with His disciples. He walked around with 3½ years with twelve guys. Any psychologist would have told you that these twelve guys would have never gotten along or accomplished anything. A bunch of fishermen, a tax collector (who was hated in those days), then Simon the Zealot. He was like a religious terrorist, the PLO of that day. He’d as soon stab a Roman in the back as anybody else. And he’s on the same team as Matthew the tax collector who represents Rome. These guys were just a bunch of misfits. But Jesus developed them. He trusted them. He gave them responsibility. One day He said, “I’m going back to heaven and I’m leaving the salvation of the world in your hands.” Would you do that?
Obviously it worked. We’re all here. Because of those twelve — actually eleven because one was a traitor. He knew what He was doing. He trusted people with responsibility.
I like to ask older parents who may have had their kids leave the nest “What would you do differently?” because I’m trying to learn as a parent. One of the things I’ve heard over and over from parents who’ve been through it all, they’d tell me, “If I had to do it over, I’d do less for my kids and I’d teach them to do more for themselves.” Why? Because there is a principle of life that goes like this. When we take responsibility for someone, we take responsibility away from that someone.
Obviously, as a parent, when your kids are very young, you are totally responsible for every area of their life. They don’t know how to feed themselves, clothe themselves, take a bath, anything. But from the moment that child is born, you are weaning them from yourself. The moment that child is born, you start the releasing process. Your role is not to keep them dependent on you the rest of their life. Your goal is to move them from total dependence upon you to independence to dependence upon God. That’s the process you want to lead them through.
Part of bringing out the best in your kids involves allowing them to fail. You must allow your kids to fail if you want to bring out the best in them. Our tendency is to protect our kids from failure. It’s natural. We don’t want them to fail. We want to protect them from mistakes. We don’t want them to feel bad. We don’t want them to have those negative feelings. If they do fail we want to bail them out real quickly so they won’t suffer.
But what we’re doing is preventing them from learning a valuable lesson. The truth is, in life everybody fails. Nobody is good at everything. The key is not, not failing in life. It’s learning how to rebound from it, learning resiliency. A totally unbroken string of successes is a character disaster. They don’t know how to respond, rebound when they fail. If you protect your children from all failure in life and when they do fail you immediately bail them out, you’re not letting them face the consequences of their stupid decisions, then when they get out in the world and experience real failure on their own, they’re devastated. Kids who only have success in their life fear failure more than kids who have failed. It’s good to have some early losses early in the season, so then you don’t have to keep up this “perfect game” syndrome throughout the whole season of life.
Overprotecting our children from failure is a form of rejection. When you don’t give kids the opportunity to fail, then what you do is basically say, “You’re not competent and I don’t trust you. You can’t handle it, so I’m going to do it for you because you’re not good enough.” That keeps the kids dependent upon us.
The Bible says this in Galatians 6:5 “We are each responsible for our own actions.” When your kids fail, don’t let them blame anybody else. Why? Because we must all learn we’re each responsible for our own actions. That is a desperately needed truth today because we’re living in a nation of victims. Everybody is a victim today! It’s all somebody else’s fault. Any problem in your life. It’s the government’s fault, the environment’s fault, education’s fault, heredity’s fault, on and on. But the Bible says we’re each responsible for our own conduct.
In the last post we’ll examine discipline and love.