I was sitting in the stands behind the backstop watching my sons at baseball practice one Saturday morning and couldn’t help but notice a sad scene play out before me. There wasn’t much practice going on because the coach was having to continually tell his son to do what he said. (It was a team composed of 9-10 year old boys). The son totally ignored his father when given instruction. It was sad watching a man in his forties with no influence whatsoever over his rebellious son.
A lady sat nearby on the same row watching, too. It was the coach’s wife. After we talked for a while and she discovered who my boys were she said, “I wish my son were like your boys. They listen and do what my husband says rather than talking back”.
I didn’t know how to respond; certainly my boys weren’t perfect and had their own struggles. So I just said, “Yes, ma’am”.
Then she said something that for a moment made me angry, “I guess some parents are just lucky. Their kids are just born that way and do what their parents tell them to do”.
Here’s what I wanted to say, “No, ma’am, you’re totally wrong. My kids weren’t born that way. They were born with the same propensity to do wrong and to rebel against me like your son is doing now. The difference is that my wife and I aren’t lazy like you and your husband and just let the inmates run the asylum. We work hard and expect them to listen to us. We have taught them to obey and to listen. You, however, have allowed your nine year old son to terrorize your home and every environment he is a part of, including this team”. (I’m glad I didn’t say any of it!)
My frustration was rooted in the fact that as parents Paula and I had made a decision to train our children to obey and expect them to do so. We weren’t lucky at all, but had made a choice about the way we wanted our kids to behave. It wasn’t easy; in fact, it was very difficult. While we desperately needed God’s help to train them, there was no luck involved at all.
They, too, had made a choice, but it was a very bad choice. And bad choices lead to bad consequences. Tolerating rebellion toward the authority of parents doesn’t end on a ball field, it extends to other authorities later on in life and leads to a lot of painful and severe outcomes.
Like this boy’s mother, a lot of people attribute those that are successful to their having luck, personal connections, or being in the right place at the right time. This flawed perspective has a common denominator in those that believe it – they see themselves as victims, blaming others for the mess where they have landed. Those with victim mindsets don’t assume responsibility for their choices, but feel that they can’t do anything about their situation.
Wherever you are today is the sum of the decisions you have made in the past. Do you believe that? It’s true in your spiritual walk, your work, your family, the kind of relationships you have and every other area in your life.
This means that what you are presently you have been becoming and you are becoming today what you will be in the future. This is a simple truth, but it motivates me to want to make wise decisions – not only for me, but for those around me.
It’s a cliche, but true: if you keep on doing what you’ve been doing, you’re going to keep getting what you’ve been getting, good or bad. First you make your choices and then your choices make you.
Here is what I believe with all of my heart – following God’s principles enable you to make wise decisions. The opposite is also true. Ignoring God’s principles lead to bad choices and a life of sorrow and pain.
What are these principles God has given in decision making? In the next few blog posts I’ll share some ways in how to make wise decisions. This is most important in our relationship with God, our marriage and as we parent our children.
We all have made bad choices – personally, as parents, and as children. If you’re away from God and away from home because of sinful choices, turn your heart toward home.