The issues of family and parenting are foremost in my mind. I don’t know why people so readily presume that ours is a perfect family with children who never disobey or talk back. That cannot be further from the truth! The past months have been rather interesting as we found our parenting journey tested and challenged in new ways. All I can say is that it has been most trying as it has been humbling. And Serene and I are learning new things even as we re-visit and re-discover timeless truths and principles. If you are on the same parenting journey, I pray that the following will encourage you:
Salvation Requires Explanation. Recently, we have become more mindful of the challenges faced by children born into Christian families. Our children are no different. They attend church, know the Bible and Christian phrases. Then one day, my 10 year old daughter asked me, “Daddy, what is salvation?” I must admit that threw me off a little. I am not questioning her simple faith in Jesus Christ. However, as parents, I believe we have a responsibility to explain what salvation is to our children as they grow and mature. As such, Serene and I devoted one family meeting to addressing this. And I know it won’t be the last time we talk about salvation.
Family Devotions Require Effort. Over the years, this has been a start-stop activity for our family as we face the demands of time and energy. And yet, the Lord impressed upon our hearts that this is not to be compromised. Oh, how we struggled. Getting together was challenging enough; and then to get the children to focus without the snide remarks and long faces around the table. Yes, family devotions require a lot of effort. The toughest for me was that I could not farm this out to anyone. It was a task that only I, as father and the spiritual leader of the family, can do. Thankfully, in pressing on – with little discouragements along the way – we have had meaningful times together.
Teenagers Require More Time. As children grow up, they become more independent. How tempting it is to leave the older ones on their own, thinking the younger ones need you more. We are finding out that the opposite is true. There are just so many issues teenagers face these days. Without parental communication, guidance and affection, they will endeavor to find solutions by themselves which may not be in line with God’s best for them. All that requires time, and that is what we struggle with because it does not work out equally across 7 children. Serene and I will have to devote more time to connecting and journeying with our two teenagers. Lord, help us when there are five youths between 12 and 19 in the house!
Parenting Requires Prayer. We’ve said this before and we will say it again. Not to you, but to ourselves as a reminder again and again. After all is said and done, we don’t have all the answers. Even if we do it 100% right (and we don’t), the results do not often tally given the freewill and personal choices of each child. The permutations are simply too overwhelming to consider and compute. Parenting exposes our weaknesses, drives us to our knees and propels us into the arms of the Perfect Parent. Our Heavenly Father loves our children too. He knows each one by name and has great plans for them. We pray for our children, but we are actually praying for ourselves. Lord, help and enable us to love and parent as You do. With renewed strength and hope, we continue the parenting journey.
Families Require Strong Marriages. How easy it is to miss this altogether. Amidst the homework, the swimming lessons and the enrichment classes, the family can find themselves overly child-centred. Sure, we love our children and that is why we focus on them so much. But don’t miss the institution of marriage that existed before the family ever became a family. It was out of this that the family was borne, and it will be around this that the family will be built up. And marriages need constant tending too. Remember, daddy and mummy, you are also husband and wife. Whilst we know and teach this often, Serene and I have also at times neglected our marriage. Indeed, there are sacrifices to be made from time to time. But ground and guard your marriage in the Lord through which you will draw strength and encouragement for the parenting journey.
I pray that these pointers would serve as good reminders for us all as we parent. We covet your prayers as we stumble and learn along the way. By now, you would have realised that we are not experts in parenting. We are sorry if we had unknowingly given you that impression through our posts and articles. All we are doing is share our experiences (and mistakes) that others might be encouraged that they are not alone in this journey.
That said, we recognise the seriousness and urgency of the times. Marriages and families continue to be attacked from all angles. The LGBT Agenda is gaining momentum against a backdrop of declining morals. Just yesterday, a mother lamented how a teacher taught her 11 year old daughter to lie about her age just to register for an app – all in the name of education. This may appear insignificant to some but we will no doubt see the effects played out in society in the years to come.
It is with this conviction that I will be ever mindful of my priorities, seeking to balance both family and ministry commitments. Covenant Vision Christian Church is growing and discipleship requires time. Covenant Vision School of Ministry re-opens with Term 2 and another five months of guiding Certificate and Diploma students plus a one-day seminar “This Side of Eternity” by Dr Neal Patterson on 27 July. I will also be sharing at TSL Staff Devotions (8,15,22,29 July) and at Pentecost Methodist Church’s Men’s Ministry (13 July). On 17 Aug, Serene and I will share about “Discipline” at the invitation of Children’s Vineyard.
Excited as I am to teach and preach the Word of God, impacting lives for the Kingdom, I have also been made fully aware of the season I am in as a father to many little ones. There are just too many accounts of pastors’ and ministers’ kids dropping out of church and falling away. That is definitely not what I want to see happen to my family. By God’s grace, I am determined to do my part (with Serene’s help, of course) to love my children, to be there for them, and to walk with them for as long as it is needed.
Thank you for reading this update. This is where we are at the moment and in pouring my heart out, I unabashedly ask for your prayers. I know I cannot do this on my own. God knows I have tried, fallen and felt like a big failure – in the family or in the ministry. Thankfully, through it all, there is always hope and strength in Jesus Christ! Little wonder then that my all-time favourite is “In Christ Alone” by Brian Littrell.
It leaves me to thank all who have supported us in very tangible ways. Regardless the reports of inflation and the rising cost of living (plus the increasing needs and appetites of growing children – haha!), we have experienced the faithfulness of God through the obedience and generosity of all who have responded as their hearts were moved by the Lord to bless our family. To each and every one of you — thank you for being such a blessing! We love and appreciate you all!
In His love and for His glory!