Though it didn’t look like it would go that way, it turned out to be a good conversation. Concerned about some attitude problems, my dear wife and I sat down with our three biggest to express those concerns, to encourage repentance, to wash them with the Word. From our perspective the children were falling into a common habit among teenagers, looking to their parents as peers, and seeing their instructions as fodder for arguments. Denise and I were quick and happy to confess that our children haven’t been showing outright defiance, just a bit of cheekiness. They have been forgetting their place.
After some struggle they began to own the problem. They repented of their recent weaknesses. That, however, wasn’t the best part, nor the great turn to the good of the conversation. That happened when they, graciously, humbly, remembering their place, gently suggested that their peace and their place might be more secure were my wife and I more quick to speak encouragement into their lives. It seems our correction may be losing some of its power because it is not sufficiently seasoned with the salt of encouragement.
Our failure to speak more encouragement is likely the fruit of our own lack of gratitude. Were we grateful like we ought to be, we would be quick to speak to those for whom we are grateful. I’m mad about my children. I’m button busting proud of them. But my own sin is to focus my attention on their sin. My sin is to grumble for what is amiss rather than rejoice over what is going well.
This propensity is not limited to just me, nor just to family contexts. The gifts God has given our pastor become the norm, the baseline, what is expected. His weaknesses, on the other hand, become what we focus on, what we think we must correct. Thus we grumble more than we give thanks.
In our work the blessing of our calling becomes what is our due, while the thorns and thistles that we all have to deal with receive our attention and our focus. We think something is amiss with the world, not because we are shocked by the blessings, but surprised by the challenges. Frustration becomes our default position.
God has been so good to my dear wife and to me. We have each other. We have eight wonderful children that pepper our every day with joy. We even have older children that are able to encourage the two of us toward righteousness. There aren’t many parents that can say that about their teenagers. Better still, all of us together have a Lord who forgives us for what we forget. He forgives cheekiness from children. He forgives ingratitude in parents. He gives us peace with each other, and better still, peace with our Father in heaven.
And having forgiven us, He blesses us, with parents who love children, and children who love parents, and a good Word that corrects us all. Yes indeed, those are some fine children. Far better than we deserve.
Dr. R.C. Sproul Jr. is a homeschooling father, Teaching Fellow at Ligonier Ministries, and professor and lecturer at Ligonier Academy. He is also founder of Highlands Ministries and author of numerous books, including Believing God: 12 Biblical Promises Christians Struggle to Accept.