"And if it seems evil to you to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the river, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord." Joshua 24:15 NKJV
My friend was back in the office the other day recounting the weekend’s events. Several families had convened at her house for a summer backyard cook-out. Parents engaged in conversation, children running around the back yard in various activities, swings, sand toys, etc. All was going well until her son and a friend's little girl were found in the fort playing "show & tell," revealing their genitals to each other. Party over! My friend was mortified, some of the other parents were critical while others simply laughed it off as belongings were collected and families dispersed.
This young mother was looking for advice in order to address the situation with her five year-old son. She didn't want to blow it out of proportion, or make him believe he had committed some horrible sin, but desired to help him establish guidelines for appropriate behavior. I asked her what she had said to her son afterwards when all was quiet. She responded that when asked why he had taken off his clothes, her replied, "because she asked me to and you said to help ladies." He was correct, my friend and her husband had been trying over the last few weeks to teach their son about manners and chivalry, opening doors for ladies, picking up things that were dropped, etc. Now this little girl had asked the son to take off his clothes, and he was trying to obey. How do you explain to a five year old that obedience isn't a hard and fast rule?
My next question was, "What kind of person do you want your son to be? A leader or a follower?" In either case, our children must learn to be both a good leader or a good follower since they will find themselves as one or the other at some time in their life. To be a good follower, a person must decide whom to follow. As a good leader, a person must make decisions that are good for those following after. In scripture, Joshua was trying to lead the Hebrew nation away from the false gods around them. He made a decision to proclaim his allegiance to Almighty God, Jehovah. In the future, our children will need to do the same. If our children are to be a strong men or women of God and lead peers to do what is right, our sons and daughters will need to make decisions according to what is right in God's eyes. There will be really tough decisions and sticky situations when they are in a position to submit to someone in authority who may or may not require actions in line with what God would desire. We as parents are here to help with these decisions. The important thing at this age is to help our children learn is how to lead their peers away from sin and encourage good choices.
Our children are faced with huge decisions that can have either wonderful blessings or detrimental consequences. Teaching them to place each circumstance in light of God's commands is our primary job as parents. Remember the two Family Rules from April? Show Love and Obey. If an action does not demonstrate the love of God or is not in accordance to what the LORD has commanded, then a different action is needed. Having loving supportive parents to encourage good leadership and appropriate submission brings glory to the Father.
Abba Father, help us to correctly guide our children to walk according to Your commands. May they lead when You call them to stand up for what is right, be obedient when they are to follow those in authority over them, and help us teach them the difference. It is our desire to be the parents that please You, and to teach our children to walk toward You in every circumstance. Thank you for entrusting these precious lives to us. May we be good stewards of Your children. Amen