God is a perfect Father with at least one perfectly obedient Son. The rest of us? Well, we tend to be a little less than perfect in our fathering, and our kids are definitely not Jesus.
While the impetus for strong, definitive parenting is abundant in both current parenting advice (see How to Land Your Kids in Therapy) and Scripture, dads make mistakes and should sometimes listen to their kids.
When dads listen
I recently heard a remarkable story about a dad who took his children’s advice and lived out the gospel because of it.
Dr. David Anderson, who started Safe Families, was hosting a neglected, difficult boy while his mom went through rehab. When the boy’s mother died, David was bound to release the boy to the State’s discretion. That is until his other biological children told him, “No way! we can’t do that!”
So David took it up with the State and ended up adopting the boy, thanks to his (now) siblings.
This story embodies the profound and insightful wisdom of kids. Their simple (perhaps ignorant) disregard for the established legislation of the State caused them to boldly hold out for the gospel move in this situation. They just knew what was right, and they held out for it; however unlikely it originally appeared to their dad.
Jesus loves kids
Jesus thought a lot of kids, too. He said things like, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children” (Mt. 11:25). Or, “Unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven” (Mt. 18:3).
But more often than not, we bend over backwards to exclude children from our adult Bible studies and fellowship time. This is sin.
You are responsible for training your children (and those in your community). But so often we end up shunning them either directly or indirectly.
Directly by hiring a babysitter to watch them while the adults have Bible study — out of sight, out of mind. Or indirectly, by having a boring Bible study — maybe they’ll just leave if we’re boring enough.
Jesus loves kids. In fact, when his disciples rebuked parents for bringing their rowdy kids to Jesus’ church, Jesus got really angry. He stopped what he was doing and said, “let the children come to me!” My kingdom belongs to them! (Mark 10:14).
Kids love Jesus
“They’re too loud,” we’ll say, or, “they’d just be bored with us.” Perhaps it’s not an issue with the kids. They’re probably bored because you’re not fun.
You’ve been a kid before. You know what it’s like. Shame on you for boring them! If, in your community group, you’ve decided to “go deep” instead of having worshipful fun, you’re neglecting your responsibility as a parent in the family of God.
It’s so curious that kids loved hanging around Jesus. When parents brought them to see Jesus, he would throw them up on his lap, say, “become like this kid!” and they just went with it. Why? Because Jesus is fun. He is safe. He makes time for kids. He doesn’t turn them away when he was doing grown up things.
For the sake of becoming more like Jesus, include kids in your community group.
So, what do we learn from our kids?
- Kids know that Jesus is a loving, strong-yet-gentle, and safe man. Look how quickly they took to him in Matthew 19:13-15. We love Jesus more when we become like kids.
- Kids don’t abide by the same social boundaries we do. We would show more people more love if we became like kids and hugged strangers.
- Kids can party. More people would see the gospel as a joyous thing if we became like kids and let loose.
- Kids know how to feel. We would “mourn with those who mourn and rejoice with those who rejoice” better if we learned from our kids how to feel.
- Kids are honest. Fewer people would feel alienated from Christians if we were honest about how cranky or unsure we are, or how much we need a hug.
- Kids know how to ask for things. We would pray more like Jesus if we became like our own kids, bold and hungry.