Sunday, April 30, 2017

Semper Gumby

Have you ever planned a long trip, one which you have never undertaken before?  You plan, research the route, and develop a strict itinerary for how you will proceed.  You load up the vehicle with every item you can think of and are ready hit the road right on time.  Everything is going great...and then you actually pull out the the driveway.

"I gotta go to the bathroom."
"She's sitting too close to me."
"When are we stopping for breakfast?"
"How much further do we have to go?"
"Tell him to put his shoes back on...his feet stink."

Soon you find that your strict itinerary has become less of a plan and more of a "let's just try to get their in one piece" prayer.  As a 21 year active duty member of the U.S. Coast Guard, I've lived by our service's motto "Semper Paratus" which means "Always Ready".  We also have a lesser know motto that other armed services serve under:  "Semper Gumby"..."Always Flexible".  This motto is more prevalent to parenting the older our children get.  

So let me pause right here and eliminate any misconceptions that some of you are likely already formulating:  

1) I'm am not questioning the sufficiency of Scripture.
2) I am not insisting that parenting should be a "shoot from the hip" approach.
3) I am not negating consistency in parenting.

With that PSA out of the way, let me get to the point.  You can plan, read all the books, get all the godly advice you seek for (and a lot which you do not), and even be perfectly in sync with you spouse...then when reality sets in you find out just have uniquely designed each of your children really are.

Let that sink in for a second.  Your children are individually and uniquely created by God. There is no one like them anywhere else.  They do have much in common with everyone else (their sinful nature and need for a Savior) but they are not cookie-cutter kids who can easily be shaped into the same mold as others.  This means the nature and specifics of parenting each child may look a little different depending upon the personality, strengths, and weaknesses of that child.  This also means that despite the advice your bestie may give regarding how they have raised their 18 year old to be the most proper addition to society, their exact approach will likely not work for your child.

The principles of Scripture regarding parenting NEVER change.  No style of parenting is to provoke our children to anger (Ephesians 6:4).  No approach to parenting is to ignore the centricity of Christ in the home (Hebrews 3:4).  No book on parenting can ever stand without the Bible as its foundation (Psalm 119:142). 

But perhaps the journey we had planned needs adjusting once we actually hit the road.  Maybe we need a few more stops along the way to stretch our legs and just give everyone a little room.  Maybe we need to be a little more flexible in our personal approach and more biblical in our foundational understanding of the blessing of God's creative uniqueness. 

For King and Kingdom,