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The long view

“Direct your children onto the right path, and when they are older, they will not leave it.” – Proverbs 22:6 NLT

Parenting requires more vision and persistence than anything else I have ever been involved with in my life. As parents we respond to a series of short term moments, many of them immediate (potty training, sharing toys, riding a bike, etc.).

As children grow, parents find themselves in more complex situations involving relationships, life choices, and finances. The desire to have freedom is pitted against the ability of a teen or emerging adult to demonstrate responsibility and trust.

A frequent question among parents is, “Are my children going to turn out all right?” This is code for a wide variety of concerns ranging from being a responsible citizen, staying out of trouble, choosing good relationships, and being able to make a sustainable living.

For parents who follow Jesus, the most profound concern is our children’s faith, “Will they follow Jesus, too?” All my children are in various stages of adulthood. My wife, Bev, and I pray for them often. Many times we awaken in the middle of the night with a burden to pray for one or more of our children or grandchildren.

This simple verse in Proverbs provides us with the “long view” parenting requirement: “Direct your children onto the right path, and when they are older, they will not leave it.”

When children are younger, directing them is easier to do. (Don’t get me wrong, it is still a lot of loving, and tireless effort.) As they grow older and become more independent, our role gradually becomes more about supportive guidance.

Perhaps the most vulnerable time as a parent is after having directed them onto the right path. My children are now making independent choices about the ways in which they live their lives. Sometimes, they step off, maybe for years. As parents, our hearts ache when this happens. It’s not what we want. It hurts. In contrast, we celebrate when they walk the path of faith in Jesus.

Proverbs reminds us to keep vision. The lessons taught and modeled over those early years of child development are in the lives of our children. Take the long view. God is working beyond what you and I see or know. Intercede in prayer. Be available for conversation. Help where appropriate. Live with vision. As children age, they will move towards the faith and values diligently modeled by us, as parents.

Keep the long view.

To this day, Bev and I pray Scripture over our children and grandchildren:

Dear Jesus,
Please help our children to love God with all their heart, soul, mind and strength. Please help them to love the people in the world with the love You love us with. In Your name Jesus, Amen

-Ed McDowell, Executive Director
Warm Beach Camp & Conference Center

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