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TRUST = OBEDIENCE

TRUST = OBEDIENCE

Joey and Carla Link

November 2015

 

Do your kids trust you? Have you ever thought about that? When I (Joey) look back on our parenting, I think I assumed our kids trusted Carla and I, but I am not sure I ever wondered if they did. I know we worked hard to build a relationship of trust with them as we learned to do in the parenting class, Growing Kids God’s Way. I recently read this in Mark 11, which got me to thinking about it again:

Jesus was going in to Jerusalem and he told two of his disciples, “Go to the village ahead of you, and just as you enter it, you will find a colt tied there, which no one has ever ridden. Untie it and bring it here. If anyone asks you, ‘Why are you doing this?’ say, ‘The Lord needs it and will send it back here shortly.’”

 

When I was a boy, if my father told me to steal a donkey, I would be thinking “My dad just told me to steal a donkey! If I get caught, I could get hung for it?! The donkey’s owners aren’t going to believe I would bring it back. They don’t even know who I am!” I would have even argued with Dad or at least questioned him about it.

 

Trust does not involve questioning. It is a “firm belief in the reliability, truth, ability, integrity, or strength of someone or something.” (Webster’s Dictionary)

 

So, if I really trusted my dad, I would think he already knew the owner of the donkey and he had made arrangements with him about me taking it, or I would believe he knew what he was doing and believe it was going to be okay, so I would go and do what my father told me to do.

 

No matter what, I was, my father’s son and my responsibility was to do what he told me to do. Just like Jesus disciples were to obey Him. Trust=Obedience. If you trust God, you will obey Him, without question. That is a hard call for those of us with the Melancholy temperament.

 

How hard is it for you to trust Jesus when He tells you to do something? If it is difficult for you to trust Jesus, do you think your kids would wonder why they should trust and obey you? As parents, have you given your kids enough reason /good experiences for them to trust you? This is why it is never a good idea to make promises you don’t make it a priority to keep.

 

The disciples “went and found a colt outside in the street, tied at a doorway. As they untied it, some people standing there asked, “What are you doing, untying that colt?” 

 

Jesus knew in this situation people would be there watching the colt so he prepared his disciples so they would know what to say. Jesus gave the disciples EVERYTHING they needed to prepare them for what they were doing.

 

When you tell or ask your kids to do something, or when they ask you for permission to do something, are you sure they are prepared to do it? Oftentimes we are too busy to think through all the ramifications of what we are sending our kids out to do, but not Jesus. He knew it was a busy city with Passover coming up. He prepared his kids for what they would encounter.

 

I remember when our kids were growing up I would go to the gas station to fill up with gas. This was before they had pay at the pump. I wanted to teach my kids to handle money so I would give them more than enough money to pay the store clerk. I told them to wait in the store after they paid until I got there. I knew they would get plenty of changed back after they paid for the gas. Since we traveled all the time, our kids were always going into unknown gas stations to do this for me. I was teaching them how to talk to store clerks and how to count money. If I didn’t trust the neighborhood we stopped in, I didn’t send my kids in. I would pay for the gas myself. Often when I sent the girls in, I would have their brother go in the store and stay out of their sight, but watch to see they were safe. I was teaching them how to believe in me, how to trust me.

 

“They answered as Jesus had told them to, and the people let them go.”

 

Prepare your kids for the things they will eventually have to do on their own. Look for opportunities you can talk to your kids and ask them if they could trust you in a given situation. Prepare them for when you will not be around. Just one week after this scenario with Jesus and His disciples, He was crucified on the cross.

Can you think of scenarios you can use to teach your kids what trust is?

Helping Your Kids Hear God’s Voice

Helping Your Kids Hear God’s Voice

Joey & Carla Link

September 2015

I often think about Adam and Eve walking in the garden and talking with God. WOW, what would that have been like?! After sin entered the world, things changed. Christians will often say they can’t hear God speaking to them. Does God still speak to us? All you have to do is open up the Bible to read what God wants to say to you. He’s speaking all right, but are we listening?

I was struck by one line in Psalm 95 – the Psalm of worship:

Come, let us sing for joy to the Lord;
let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation.
Let us come before him with thanksgiving
and extol him with music and song.

For the Lord is the great God,
the great King above all gods.
In his hand are the depths of the earth,
and the mountain peaks belong to him.
The sea is his, for he made it,
and his hands formed the dry land.

Come, let us bow down in worship,
let us kneel before the Lord our Maker;
for he is our God
and we are the people of his pasture,
the flock under his care.

Today, if you hear his voice…”

After great words of worship and adoration unto God, David says “IF you hear His voice…” It is one thing to worship God in song, but it is quite another to listen to what He says to us in His Word. “If” you hear His voice – So we can hear his voice but whether we do or not is our choice.

How can you help your kids hear what God is saying to them? Let me ask you a question – Do your kids listen to what you say to them? If not, why not? In the first 5 years of parenting, it is the job of the parents to teach their kids how to obey them. We believe God put parents in the life of every human being to teach them what authority looks like. Kids who do not obey their parents do not respect their parents and kids who do not respect their parents will not listen to them. So if your kids aren’t listening to you, back up and work on obedience training.

If your kids are characterized by listening to you, here are some things you can do to help them understand what God says they should do.

  1. Have your kids take notes in church. Over lunch, everyone in the family gets to share what they took notes on. When our children were young, Carla would call the church office every week and find out what the sermon topic was. Then she would find or make up color sheets for them that had pictures of something the sermon was going to be about on them.

  1. Encourage and hold your kids accountable for having devotions / Quiet Times. You can find devotion books for children of every age (parentingmadepractical.com). When they are too little to read, Mom or Dad can take a few minutes in the morning and read their devotion to them. Before they could write, Carla would have them draw a picture in their notebook about what they had learned in their QT that morning.

When they were old enough to do this on their own, each day, in their notebooks they wrote:

  • The answers to the questions in their devotion book
  • Their prayer requests and when the requests were answered they went back to that page and wrote the answer down by the request. This taught them to see God answers prayer.
  • One thing they could do from what they had learned in their devotions each day.

On Saturday evenings, they shared with us what they had been learning in their QT’s that week.

  1. While driving and listing to Christian songs on the radio, ask them what they think a certain song, word or phrase is saying to them / us about obeying God’s voice.

  1. When they demonstrated a character trait on their own initiative, praise them for it and then ask them how they knew being kind (for example) was the right thing to do. Show them how to find verses that talk about this particular character trait.

Oftentimes we don’t hear God’s voice because we are too busy to really have time to listen, think and meditate on what God is saying to us and we become like the next verse in Psalm 95.

Do not harden your hearts as you did at Meribah, as you did that day at Massah in the wilderness, where your ancestors tested me; they tried me, though they had seen what I did.” (Ps. 95:8)

We can sing and praise God on the outside, but are we listening to Him as He works on our hearts? Encourage your kids to talk about what they are learning in different spiritual settings and have them share with you what God is saying to them and ask them how they are going to put it into practice.

Teaching Your Kids to Work

Teaching Your Kids to Work

Joey and Carla Link

October 2015

Keeping on top of yard work is never easy when you have a big yard with many trees as we do. Our busy travel schedule makes it even more difficult. I (Joey) was able to stay on top of the jobs that needed it the most. We both noticed the gutters were full and overflowing, so it was time to get up on the roof and get them cleaned out.

Yard work is a great way to teach kids how to work. I asked friends of ours if their teenage boys would be able to lend me a hand. The boys had never done the dirty job of cleaning wet leaves and pine needles out of gutters before, but they were willing to give it a try. I had spent many hours teaching the oldest kid baseball skills to sharpen his playing for his school team, so he was especially eager to help me.

They climbed the ladder to the roof with trowels in their hands and got to work. I was pleased with both their effort and their good attitude. Their younger sister helped do some weeding in the borders, a job Carla normally likes to do, but as she was still recovering from her broken leg, she had not been able to get out there all summer. With all the rain the weeds had taken control.

When the kids were finished, I took them and their mother out for lunch. I asked Mom if I could do some teaching with the kids, and as she and her husband were alumni of the parenting classes we taught, she readily agreed.

I asked each of the kids who of them was the best worker that morning. Each of them had a different answer, and none of them put themselves first. Their answers surprised each other and their mother. They did a good job of pointing out what each of them had done best.

I asked them to describe what I and their parents meant when we referred to something as “Good, Better or Best”. I wanted them to grade themselves on their work effort in each of these categories in both attitude and skill with either a plus or minus. I shared Romans 12:3 with them as I asked them to do this:

“Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought,

but rather think of yourself with sober judgement.”

When your kids do their chores, as their parent, it is easy for you to grade their effort in your mind. Do you ever wonder what grade your kids would give themselves? Having them do this is a good way to teach them what “sober judgement” is. Our kids graded themselves in these areas:

  • Did they to the job completely?
  • Did they do the job the way they had been instructed to?
  • Do they do the job (chores/schoolwork) on their own initiative?
  • Did they work with a good attitude?

Carla and I found having our kids grade themselves was the best way for us to keep from falling into the habit of looking for what they didn’t do and lecturing them for it. We would grade them too, and shared what we thought after they told us what grade they gave themselves. On the whole, we were often easier on them than they were on themselves.

Our kids gave themselves “A’s” through “F’s” and kept a monthly chart of both their regular chores including schoolwork and added additional tasks they were instructed to do as well. If they got lower than a “B” on any one of the points listed above, they would write one way they were going to work on it that week on paper and put it somewhere they would see it each day.

It didn’t take long for the kids who helped me clean out the gutters to come up with their “+” or “-“for “Good, Better or Best”. Their scores matched what I had come up with. I asked them how they could improve the minus scores. They all came up with things they could do, and I asked them how they were going to remind themselves to work on the things they came up with.

I asked them why it was important for them to give a chore their best effort, especially in attitude. Wasn’t it good enough to get the job done? Why on earth would they need to have a good attitude as they did it?

We talked about the expectations of employers when they got jobs of their own (neither of the boys were old enough to drive yet). Why would I want to hire someone who thought doing the job their way was better than mine? Why would I want to hire someone who did the bare minimum on the job instead of giving it their best effort? Why would I want to pay someone who kept stopping what they were doing to look at their phone to see if they got a text? I surely would not want to pay someone I had hired to do a job if they whined and complained about it to other co-workers or his friends.

A good verse at this point for kids to memorize is Colossians 3:23:

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart,

as working for the Lord, not for human masters.”

When kids grade themselves on their chores each day, they are learning to manage their own work ethic which will impact many areas of their lives.

While it’s a lot easier to threaten, remind and lecture our kids into doing a better job while they are working, it rarely teaches kids anything nor changes their long term behavior.

Do your Children Love You?

by Joey and Carla Link

September 2015

Do you ever wonder if your children love you? At what age do you think they understand what love is? You tell them you love them from the first day you hold them, and they know it by how you take care of them, protect them, hug them and kiss them.

Let me turn the tables just a bit and ask you, how do you demonstrate your love for God? God is our heavenly Father and He demonstrated his love for us by sending His Son Jesus to die on the cross while we were still sinners, cleansing us from our sins. (Romans 5:8) So, we love God because He first loved us and we know what love is because God has shown it to us.

In John 14:15, Jesus said something very interesting about love:

“If you love me, you will obey what I command.”

I started wondering if I demonstrated my love for Jesus by obeying his Word and living how He said in the Bible as He wanted us to live. Then I contemplated if I had ever considered obedience from my children as an act of love.

Turn that around – if our children aren’t obeying us, does this mean they don’t love us? If our kids don’t love us because they are being disobedient, who are they really loving? They are loving themselves!

Each time we allow our children to disobey us and violate the command God gave through Paul in Colossians 3:20, “Children obey your parents in everything,” we are teaching them it’s okay to love themselves over us. What is this going to produce? It will produce proud, self-centered kids.

So what do children learn from this? That if they don’t obey their earthly parents, why should they listen to or obey their heavenly Father?

So please, let Jesus words from John 14:15 roll around in your mind this week and contemplate how often your children are obeying you. Why aren’t they obeying you all the time in everything you ask them to do? Do you expect them to? Where did they get the idea they can pick and choose when they want to obey? Do you come across that way when you give them an instruction? Yes, it is hard to be obedient when you don’t want to, but this mindset leads to us telling God, “I love you, but I just can’t do what you want me to do.”

In fact, John gave us even more encouragement in I John 2:5:

“If anyone obeys his word (God’s word), God’s love is truly made complete in him.”

What a great promise to work towards in raising our children!

Teaching our Kids to Persevere

Teaching our Kids to Persevere

by Joey Link

September 2015

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(Johnny Unitas-photo credit google images)

Johnny Unitas was one tough football player. He played quarterback for the Baltimore Colts from 1950’s – 1970’s. For 52 years he held the record for most consecutive games with a touchdown pass (which he set between 1956–1960), until New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees broke this record in 2012. Johnny Unitas was the prototype of the modern era quarterback with a strong passing game, media attention, and widespread popularity. He has been consistently listed as one of the greatest NFL players of all time.

I recently read a biography about this football legend and I was surprised to read he couldn’t get colleges to notice him. No major college was interested in a 5’11”, 130-pound quarterback. After being turned down by most colleges to play football, only the University of Louisville took a chance on him. It took a lot of drive for Unitas to persevere and not give up on his goal.

Johnny Unitas was drafted by the Pittsburg Steelers but was cut before the season started. He could have given up, but that is not what this young man was made of. Johnny’s father died when he was still a teen. His mom went to night school and scrubbed floors during the day to provide for her family. While in high school, Johnny helped bring money home for the family shoveling two tons of coal every day after school.

Do your kids have goals that they will pursue in spite of the constant “No’s” they get? We know of one young man who set his sights on going to Annapolis Naval Academy and he spent all of his teen years working towards and preparing for this dream. When he was turned down when he applied, he didn’t give up and went to a preparatory military school instead. The following year he received his letter of acceptance and is in his first semester because he persevered.

How hard are your kids willing to work for what they want? How hard are they willing to work to help the family? Are they willing to do their chores and responsibilities at home first before doing what they want to do? Teaching your kids to prioritize their responsibilities and time will help them learn the determination they will need to make their dreams come true.

Rather than give up on his dream and quit football, Unitas decided to keep his skills sharp by playing semi-pro ball. Johnny played so well the Baltimore Colts called and invited him to spring camp where he made the team as a backup quarterback. When the starting quarterback went down with a leg injury, Johnny was inserted into the game. His inexperience was obvious. He fumbled three times and his first throw was intercepted. However, failure was not something Johnny put up with.

The coaches and team hung in with young Unitas, and he kept working and improving. He put the same work ethic he learned at home and from shoveling coal into practice with the football team, which turned him into one of the most successful players in NFL history, appearing in 10 Pro Bowls and winning 3 league MVP awards.

The image of Johnny Unitas is a picture of a determined warrior who pressed on to achieve his goals and persevered through the obstacles in his path. Some people dream of success and expect it to come to them, while others work hard to get it. Which are your kids characterized by?

Johnny Unitas’ determination reminds me of the description of Jesus in Hebrews 12:2

“Who for the joy set before him he endured the cross,

scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

Teaching our kids to persevere could keep them walking with the Lord! Listen to these words Paul told Timothy:

Everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus, will be persecuted.”

(II Timothy 3:12)

What kind of obstacles do your kids face that help them learn perseverance? Even little ones have obstacles in their way every day. A bossy sibling or Mom telling a preschooler to pick up his toys when he isn’t done playing are obstacles that stand in their way. Kids in school certainly see subjects they have difficulty with as obstacles that must be overcome. Think about how you can help your children learn the character trait of perseverance.