“Be watchful, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry” – 2 Timothy 4:5
As a parent, part of our job involves solid watchfulness. This job is made both far more difficult and in some ways slightly easier by that good friend/new nemesis: the internet.
Those of you with children not yet old enough to beg you for a phone or have social media access, I envy you. Don’t waste these years of youthful bliss away. There will come a day you wish you had been trained at Quantico or the Pentagon. And even then you’ll go to bed at night praying your kids haven’t stumbled into stupidity or outright danger on the web.
At least I do.
So this verse stuck out to me during my quiet time. Because as parents we have to be watchful. And we have to watch out for one another. Your kids aren’t my job and my kids aren’t your job (Whew! Right?) but in the end, we have to have each other’s backs. Guaranteed every kid tries something beyond foolish at least once and as parents we must come to one another and help each other know what’s going on. It’s hard to tell another parent when you know something’s not quite right but let me share with you a few important tips for when/if you find yourself in that position…
1. Talk to the other parent in private.
In person if possible. If your conversation happens over the phone, make sure they have a few minutes to handle the information and that they have adequate privacy to talk. No one wants to be hit with a 2×4 in public.
2. Come in humility.
If you haven’t experienced eating some humble pie before as a mom or dad– just wait. Your turn’s coming. So whatever it is you have to tell this other parent, make sure you do so with love and understanding (even if it involves something that hurt your kid…remember, these parents are could be completely clueless as to what’s been going on). Any sense of self-righteousness or “my-kid-would-never” has absolutely NO PLACE in this conversation. You’re doing this because you CARE about their child, not because you’re a tattle tale.
3. Don’t give them suggestions for how to punish or solve the issue.
It’s not your place. Tell them the information and then get off the phone or out of their face. Many times people need to process and can’t even begin while they are still in a conversation. Plus, if it’s really bad news they may not want to break down in front of you.
4. Give grace.
Forgive quickly. Move forward. Love freely.
It’s not your place to judge or condemn another parent…likely there are dozens of extenuating circumstances that you have no idea about. Treat them exactly how YOU would want to be treated in the same situation. A parent you may not have considered a good friend may likely turn out to be a dear one since you have shared a cup of suffering together. The quicker you can send or give an encouraging word to after such a conversation the easier it will move from awkward to helpful.
5. Be ready for resistance.
I wish I didn’t have to include this but I better anyhow. Lots of times, parents meet any kind of bad news about their kids defensively. They can’t help it. The mama bear in them or the papa bear just can’t believe their little cub would do such a thing. Give these parents grace too. They may vehemently deny or even berate you for saying the truth…but after the dust settles they will likely dig a little deeper and see that you were only looking out for their cub. With these parents too seek to give an encouraging word or some peace offering as quickly as you can. Again, you don’t know what’s really going on behind closed doors so give grace and walk away.
And that’s why this verse in 2 Timothy chapter 4 is so profound as a parent.
Look out for your kids and those kids around you that you know. I can’t stand Hillary Clinton but in some ways it really does take a village. I am EVER GRATEFUL for the friends and ministry partners that have come to me and shared with me things I needed to know about my kids.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again…
No one gets through parenting unscathed. Endure the afflictions. But then…
Do the work of an evangelist.
Our kids WILL make mistakes. Hopefully not life altering ones but they will stumble into stupid, legitimately choose wrongly, decide to be dumb every once in a while or outright just fall. But that’s when the good news of Jesus comes in. We remind them that they are forgiven through Christ, their sins are washed clean and they are new and fresh every day. Christ couldn’t possibly love them any less and neither do we.
And fullfill your ministry.
I wish I could tell you it’s easy. I wish I could say you’ll never eat humble pie and your kids will never screw up. I can’t say that. But I can say this: that no matter what your kids do, the outcome is sure:
They will follow Jesus. They will fulfill their calling and purpose. They will grow through it and do greater things than you or I can imagine. Know how I know? Because you will fulfill your ministry as a parent and love them through it, speak truth, love and grace over them, and you will fight like crazy in prayer that they may BECOME who God intended them to BE.