As church leaders, I’m sure many of you may all too well relate to this story:
On Sunday mornings people would come to church and observe how well I interacted with their kids; after all, I was the children’s pastor—kids were my specialty. And I had three of my own—all under the age of five. So, grocery shopping in the summer heat of Phoenix during naptime with all three kids in tow may not have been the wisest choice; but when you’re out of milk, diapers, and frozen chicken nuggets it moves from a choice to a necessity. After weaving my way through the aisles with our youngest in baby carrier, our middle child in the cart seat, and my oldest pretending to be a race car driver as he sat underneath the cart, I was finally ready to check out. As we inched our way through the line, my son (the oldest) started begging for a treat. Everything tempted him as we waited in line, from the gum to the candy bars to the $5 plastic egg filled with Silly Putty. Asking turned to begging, begging turned to weepy, weepy turned to sobbing, and then the “all-out jumping up and down life-curdling screaming temper tantrum” made an appearance. Which of course, made the younger two cry as well. I grabbed my son by the arm, pulled him in tight, and proceeded to have a mommy tantrum of my own. I left my cart filled with necessities and took everyone outside into the Arizona summer heat for a cool down.
When everyone had dried their tears and settled down, I headed back inside to retrieve my cart which I’m sure had melting Popsicles in it by now. As I walked in, a woman approached me to let me know she had the manager put my cart in the refrigerator and I just needed to go to customer service to get it. The woman was talking with me like I knew her and her face was familiar, I just couldn’t place it. Until she told me who’s MOM she was—her kids were in our children’s ministry program. Embarrassed, I started to apologize for my behavior when she interrupted me and thanked me for my behavior. I’ll never forget what she said, “You always seem to have everything figured out with kids and you’re so good with them; it’s so good to know that you’re human and lose your temper, too.” Yep. I’m not a perfect parent. None of us are.
This month, we’ll be exploring the book Parenting Beyond Your Capacity by Reggie Joiner and Carey Nieuwhof. As you journey through this book, you’ll discover that your family is part of a bigger story—one that includes other influences that help us realize why a relationship with God really matters. In the first two chapters, we get a glimpse of similar stories to the one above; the stories that show that God uses broken people to communicate His message of restoration and redemption.
What’s Your Story?
Every family has a story, and it’s not the perfect family unit we see on billboards or TV. God wants us to take a look at how our families fit into His bigger story by becoming open to learning and cooperating with whatever He wants to do in your life. It’s about realizing that as a parent, no one has more potential to influence your child than you. It also means that you aren’t the only influence your child needs and, even better, two combined influences have a greater impact than just two influences. As you explore this book, strive to establish a parenting lifestyle where you:
- Widen the Circle: Invite others to invest in your children.
- Imagine the End: Focus energy and effort on things that make a lasting impact.
- Fight for the Heart: Create a culture of unconditional love in your home.
- Create a Rhythm: Tap into the power of quality moments together.
- Make it Personal: Let kids see how you strive to grow so they know how to handle their own limitations and pursue character and faith.
Think On This
How would you describe a “perfect” family? How would you describe your family? Who are the people who are influential in your children’s lives? Why is a combined influence more powerful than one or two separate influences in the life of a child?