Direction and Choice

_Hear, O my son, and receive my sayings; and the years of thy life shall be many._
_I have taught thee in the way of wisdom; I have led thee in right paths._
Proverbs 4:10-11

Over the years while I was Youth Pastor at my home church in Mt. Morris, Michigan, I discussed with different parents their role in thier child’s life. Often, I heard parents of wayward youth lament, “What did I do wrong?”

It’s vitally important that parents take an active role in the upbringing of their children. It’s also equally important that the right things are taught. However, I believe parents are all too willing to take the blame when their children make poor choices or get themselves into trouble.

We cannot expect children to do the right thing if they’ve never been given guidance and instilled with wisdom, but we also cannot assume that their mistakes are simply the result of poor parenting.

Understand, now, that I don’t intend to make excuse for parents who neglect their children’s proper instruction and upbringing. I simply want to point out that our youth, as well as we, have the ability to make individual choices. Good, and bad.

There is an incredible joy in watching a child succeed… especially when you’ve been active in instilling values in them. Mothers and fathers feel pride and take some of the credit when their children do well. Parents are honored at their childrens’ accomplishments, and feel that they have done a good job in bringing them up.

I believe parents can give their children a great advantage to a successful life when they instill God-values in them, and teach them in the ways of righteousness. Children of Apostolic families who are devoted to their faith have an immense upper-hand in living successful lives.

However, it’s not the upbringing alone that dictates a person’s epitaph. There is still the matter of choice.

Is God considered a failure when we stray away and make stupid choices in life? Does God consider himself a bad Father when his children disobey? I have never read in the Bible where God chastised or punished himself for the choices of his creation.

Why does God not respond to our disobedience with the same defeatist, failuristic(tm) mentality that we as parents do? Because He understands that we are created with the gift of choice. In Joshua 24:15, Joshua implored the people to, “Choose this day who you will serve”. We have a choice.

We are predestinated to do right things, think right thoughts, and live a right life. But that predestination is merely a plan for our life… a schedule to follow… it is not an unalterable script that we blindly act out. There is still the variable of choice. Paul lamented, “The things I want to do, I don’t do… and the things I don’t want to do, I do!” Were his parents to blame? Or did Paul simply make the wrong choices?

Parents… make ‘raising your children right’ your absolute highest priority in life. Without your Godly, prayerful example and instruction, your children are more inclined to fail in life, and in salvation. Teach them to make right decisions, but don’t torture yourself when they mess up. Be zealous in giving them wise counsel, but don’t feel that you must live their lives for them. Let them live. Let them choose.

Raising children is like drawing back an arrow in a bow. You carefully set the arrow, draw it back straight, and aim it in the right direction.

And then, you let it go.

Author: Jay Jones

Jay is an author, veteran church planter, speaker, and the pastor of the Pentecostals of Kentwood. He's a passionate worshipper of Jesus Christ, a husband, daddy, pastor, and a ‘pretty good guy’. Jay is also an ordained minister of the United Pentecostal Church, where he currently serves as a Presbyter in West Michigan.

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