About a year ago Shirley and I hosted The Truth Project, a life group at New Life Christian Church, at our home. It was a marvelous experience which taught me how very important truth is in the Christian life. The “Tour Guide” for this DVD-based group was Dr. Del Tackett. Since becoming aware of Dr. Tackett I’ve followed his blogs and find them very useful in my life and spiritual development. A recently posted item from Dr. Tackett really grabbed my attention and I believe it is well worth shooting it along to any who might run upon this blog. RMF
“The Million Dollar Parenting Question”
by Dr. Del Tackett
Dr. Juli Slattery called me promptly at 9am. She’s working on a parenting DVD series for Focus on the Family and wanted me to be a part of it. I was delighted with her first question: “When it comes to the very practical issue of raising children, why do you think a biblical worldview is important?” It was a great question and we talked about that for some time, but then she ended with the million-dollar question, as far as I was concerned. It is the critical question that every Christian parent should wrestle with and constantly keep before them as they attempt to raise their children.
It was a natural question, considering the pathway our discussion had taken. Man has a strong tendency to squeeze God out of his life. For the believer, this is still true. We end up compartmentalizing our Christianity into a smaller and smaller slice of life, until it pretty much only applies to the time we spend at church on Sunday mornings. For the extremely faithful, that may also include Sunday and Wednesday evenings, and possibly a morning or evening devotion. But, unfortunately, for much of the Body of Christ today, that is where it ends. Once we leave the “God Zone” of our life, we walk into the rest of the world as if He doesn’t exist or, at least, doesn’t speak or care. This was this conviction that led to the creation of the Truth Project and my burning desire to be a small part of seeing all of that change. The truth of God is not only relevant in every area of life, but it is critical…critical to understand the design of God so that we can walk in accordance with that blueprint; critical so that we can understand why things around us are in a mess or why they are a blessing; critical so that we can be the light and salt in a world that desperately needs the children of God to stand and say either “this is the path of blessing” or “this is the path of tragedy”—in an attractively, winsome way, of course.
If we care about the plight of people, not only eternally, but also caring for them in this world and desiring to see everything glorify the Lord, then we must know how things ought to be or we will never know the right prescription to offer.
So, we were talking about all of this when Juli then asked: “But how does a parent tell truth to their children without coming across as dogmatic or dictatorial?”
The million dollar question.
Why? Because this generation has bought so deeply the notion of tolerance, that they are spring-loaded against absolute truth claims. We are long past a generation of kids that simply say “Yes, maam” when mama says thus and so. They are internally geared to reject the simple declaration of truth.
Now, it’s not as if teenagers haven’t been like this ever since Cain killed Abel! But there is a deeper rejection today of absolute truth. More than ever? I don’t know. But I do know this: I see it all the time…even in some of our very best Christian college students.
That is why, more than ever, it is critical to help our children see the connection between a truth claim and reality.
This requires homework.
This requires effort, preparation.
If your son or daughter is struggling against some truth, you will need to go beyond the easy part of just saying “that’s wrong…this is right” and expect them to say “Yes, sir! Wow! Thank you for the guidance!”
I saw this illustrated in a great way several years ago. I had taken my youngest son to a father-son camp, J. R. Ranch, for some “bonding” time. One of the activities they provided for us was a skeet shoot, where dad and son entered into a competition against the other dads and sons to see who could get the highest total of “skeet hits”. But before we were handed the shotgun, the man running the show (I’ll call him John) gave us a safety lesson. He told us the “truth” about the danger of guns and how to use them properly. I noticed some of the boys fidgeting and looking around. I wondered if they were taking to heart what John was saying. It was important to me, because these teenagers with their pants hanging half-way off of their hips were about to hold a loaded shotgun and I wasn’t going to be very far away.
It was then that this savvy guy made the connection between his “truth” claims and reality. On a tree stump a few feet away sat a watermelon. Someone, I assume John, had painted a smiley face on it, turning the watermelon into what looked like a great big head. He then said something like this: “In case you weren’t really listening to my talk about the danger of this shotgun, let’s assume that watermelon is the face of one of the dads or sons standing around you when you start your shooting. He made a little joke about how the face was smiling because you were such a terrible shot!” He continued to talk about this watermelon such that we began to see it as a real person…part of our group. He even began calling it by a name he had given “him”. We were paying attention now and laughing. He continued: “Maybe you get a little caught up in the excitement of shooting a shotgun for the first time in your life and get a little careless or maybe start fooling around and you happen to swing the gun towards one of them.” He then swung the shotgun toward the watermelon and from the hip, pulled the trigger.
The watermelon exploded.
Green rind and seeds and red watermelon pulp flew everywhere. I think some of it even splattered on a few of us.
There was an initial gasp when it happened, then a deathly silence as we all got the point. The “truth” claims he had been making about the dangers of a loaded shotgun were deeply imprinted upon everyone of us.
I felt much safer after this as each boy took the gun and held it with great respect and fear…which is exactly what he wanted in each of us.
Connecting the dots between the truth claims of God and the reality of life around us is a critical part of teaching…whether you are a parent or a pastor or a school teacher.
Jesus did this constantly…from fig trees to parables. God did it with Jonah…from a storm to a big fish to a worm and a broom tree. They, of course, are the master teachers. We should follow their example!