This weekend I learned something as a father. It was, as most things, a combination of inputs and actions coming together in a perfect storm sufficient for me to get it. I’m coming to understand this is the way God often talks to me.
On Friday I had a strange role reversal with my youngest son where he discovered something I was doing that I shouldn’t be and confronted me. Then I had to deal with that fall out. I had to come up with the words you tell someone you know you have let down. It was very strange and effected me deeply for days.
Sunday I got into a yelling, screaming, berating, hurting argument with my eldest about his morality. In the end we were both balling and he was vomiting. I was brought to mind a passage in The Divine Conspiracy where Willard is talking about Matt 7 and judging others. He quotes C.S. Lewis’ The Four Loves, where Lewis says he is rarely surprised by how children talk to their parents, but is often appalled by how parents talk to their children. They say the harshest, most damaging of things to the children. Things and said in a way, they would never talk to another person’s child. Yet supposedly they love their children more, yet they don’t even treat them with the courtesy they give strangers.
As I said to my wife I would never talk to my atheist friends the way I talked to E. I wouldn’t do it because it would be rude and because yelling and hurting people is not how you convince them to change.
So I’ve sought forgiveness from my sons, and their maker. I’ve also repented and turned away from that way of acting. Now I will show them the respect they deserve as humans, as young men and people I love. I can be firm without being harsh. I can questions and discuss without arguing. Above all I can love and be kind.
We had a youth minister candidate in this weekend at church. It was a busy weekend for all. Now with my new way of looking at parent/adult child/youth relationships, I realize we may not have shown the respect to the youth we would have shown to adults. I also realize we sometimes don’t show the respect to others we should.
I’m also very aware of how being a youth minister is different from being a parent. The YM is not their parent, he’s their minister. Ministers are there to equip and train the saints for good works. Parents are there to shape their offspring through love and discipline. When you put parents in charge of a youth group, they expand their parent role and don’t see what they are doing as equipping.