Posted by: Andrea Mullins | 26 July, 2009

Happy Parents’ Day!

martha_greg_singletonCelebrity parents are in the news daily from Angelina Jolie to Michael Jackson. Their decisions to be private or public, to adopt, or to marry the other parent, influence homes across our nation with mostly negative role models of parenting.

Because of this and in celebration of Parents’ Day on July 26 (fourth Sunday in July), I have asked Greg and Martha Singleton, authors of Setting up Stones: A Parent’s Guide to Making Your Home a Place of Worship to speak to the importance and power of our positions as parents.  The Singletons have, for 29 years, met the challenges of balancing successful professional careers in journalism and marketing while raising a faith-filled family. Together, they creatively share their experiences and insights on family life at conferences, seminars, workshops, churches of various denominations, schools, organizations, and businesses. The couple resides in San Antonio, and has two adult children, Anne and Matt.

From Martha and Greg:

We’d like to take this opportunity to wish all you moms and dads a very Happy Parents’ Day! Actually, we weren’t aware that there was such a holiday until someone brought it to our attention earlier this month. But, when we found out about it, we sprang into action. We don’t let opportunities like this just slip by without appropriate fanfare, especially when we, as parents, are likely to be the beneficiaries. So we called our children, who are adults now, and let them know that we didn’t expect anything huge. Dinner on the San Antonio Riverwalk would be just fine.

It’s difficult to know how to celebrate a holiday that you don’t know that much about. Some holidays call for feasts and celebrations; some are times of solemn memorial. So that we all might be on the same page as to the tone this day’s traditions should take, we’ve done some research and personal recollection about what it means to be a parent.

Do you remember when you first held that baby in your arms? The rush of emotion at seeing that little bundle was equaled only by your thoughts of the future and that child’s potential. Before you could even get the baby home from the hospital, all the dreams about tomorrow had already begun. You couldn’t wait for those first steps across the room, or their first words to be spoken. Their first day of school will be great. And won’t it be exciting to see him on the baseball field? Just imagine what it will be like at her first dance recital.

We begin to project our hopes and expectations on that new little one. Beyond the mundane, we might even design plans for how this life will serve God, envisioning successful ministry in our child’s future. In our excitement and anticipation, we reason, “How awesome! God has presented me with a fresh new canvas here, and I’m going to create a classic work of art!”

And, it really would be so exciting if it was simply our responsibility to select all the colors and designs for that child’s life just like we wanted, and fill that canvas with beauty, just the way we had it pictured in our mind. Then we could frame it, hang it a gallery somewhere, and the whole world would pass by and tell us what a wonderful job of parenting we had done. And when the audience applauds our efforts, wouldn’t that make us feel wonderful?

But, this is the point where we just need to slow down a bit. Because, this isn’t our art project at all. Despite the biology involved, this gift from God has nothing to do with what we can create. It’s not about our ingenuity and dedication to the craft of being a parent. Parenting really has very little to do with our credentials and successes. In fact, God has already invested His work and creativity in that child’s life, before he was even born.

He has other ideas about what our role is supposed to be. When He graciously places a baby in our home, there is absolutely nothing lacking. What God asks of parents is that we discover all that He has invested in that child and direct those abilities and proclivities toward maturity. Our task is to discern the valuable gifts that God has placed there and enhance that beauty all for His glory. Then that person, our child, as an adult, can realize the potential that God had intended in his life from the very beginning of time.

We should probably view our job as parents like that of a refiner rather than that of an artist. A refiner does sweaty work and there’s usually a lot of intense labor involved. Refineries follow a process that creates a valuable resource out of a raw material that already has an inherent worth. It doesn’t happen quickly. It requires constant attention, and if any part of the process is overlooked or shortchanged, then the entire product could lose its usefulness and value.

The process is day-by-day and moment-by-moment. Rather than the grand gesture or the big lecture, it is the prayerful, careful attention to daily detail, the tone and content of our most casual conversation with our children, the consistent illustration of our character and caring that they see in us day by day, and the practical reality of our relationship with Christ lived out before them as we meet life’s challenges that will forge our children into the adults God has called them to be.

There’s just not an opportunity to take a day off. For the process to be effective, we have to stay right in there with all the heat and the stress. Paul wasn’t speaking specifically to parents but he described our duty so well. “Be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction.” (2 Timothy 4:2 NIV)

So, on Parents’ Day, take a deep breath and reflect on this magnificent journey called parenthood. Now, get back to work. You’re on the clock.

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Responses

  1. And thankfully, being a parent continues into your children’s adulthood. Not so much refining any more, rather acting as a sounding board. Not so much advice-giving as listening until they work their way through to their own conclusions. In the hard times as well as the good, being a parent is a marvelous gift from God. Thankfully He listens to parents who understand how woefully inadequate we are without Him.

  2. And an additiomal blessing of being a parent — being a GRANDPARENT! Just spent a blessed week+ with my children (birth & by marriage) and grandchildren. All stages of parenthood are wonderful and special – especially when your children choose to serve the Lord.

  3. It’s encouraging to see someone commenting on the need for godly examples of parenting and real family cohesiveness. There is so much chaff out there that its hard to tell the conterfit from the real. All that glitters is not afterall gold. The world cheers alot of high profile people doing good things but never acknowleges the fact that there are even fewer regular folks doing the “right thing”. And the word affirms that people perish for the mere lack of knowledge. This works not only for us individually but in our families as well. What we don’t know can hurt us. I’m excited to see a shifting coming to the body of Christ. Where we finally esteem spiritual character over wealth power and position and it all begins at home.

    “Train up a child in the way that he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it”.

    Pastor Tina
    freshwindshift.blogspot.com


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