January 5, 2007
Sheltering and Accountability
When people talk about sheltering I kind of twitch. In some ways I was sheltered, but oh praise God for the ways in which I wasn't. My mom had this idea that everyone had to "earn their keep." If you didn't work you weren't a member of the family, and she considered me a borderline member at best. So I worked my tail off getting the scholarships and academic honors that seemed to keep them tolerably disposed to my position as firstborn. It was never enough. If you folded all the laundry you should have done it faster or sooner. And NEVER expect commendation for your work. It was in the little ways I wasn't sheltered (getting a job at a science center to earn money for college and going to weekly community group at church) that I learned that I didn't have to "earn my way" with people. I learned about GRACE! I want to add that my parents were both dealt rough hands as children and struggled mightily to create a better home for their children, which they did in many ways. My dad would have cheerfully fought grizzly bears for us, and my mom has this wacky sense of humor and love for the outdoors that sent us singing down many a trail. I've braided bread for my mom and helped my dad build fences. I love my parents very much. However, I needed people outside the home and especially people from the body of believers to teach me some of the things my parents didn't or couldn't teach me. That's something that I don't think my parents have been able to accept very well. They never welcomed outside interference and/or mediation, and to a certain extent I agree with them. There are things that should remain in the family. Aunt Elmira's gallstones and the number of spankings little Timmy got last week are of no concern to anyone outside the family. Yet there are other issues that need to be dealt with, and if the family won't deal with them then someone outside the family should. This is where accountability becomes so important. If we shelter our children to the point that we cut out other influences then our children are stuck with the way we see the world. As Christian parents we do our darndest to make this a Godly view of the world. However, we have our own struggles and areas of unbelief that make this picture incomplete and flawed to a greater or lesser extent. By placing our children in community -especially in community with other Christians- we are imposing a certain accountability on our parenting. If Mark can come home and ask why his friend Thomas doesn't get any spankings at all and Susan can ask us why she takes home economics every year when her friend Anna is planning to become a lawyer and both of them can get honest answers as to why we do things our way then we have accountability. Even if they can't discuss their questions as I couldn't discuss mine, they are laying the groundwork for the day when they can ask questions -and find answers. At this point parents might rightly wonder how they can keep their children from being blown about by every wind of trend or doctrine. In the wake of questioning many of the ideas and assumptions I had been brought up with I found myself literally having to relearn how to think and live in everyday situations. However, my parents always impressed on my the ascendancy of God's Word. I grew up knowing that it is absolutely true and the only standard for living our lives. Because of this my questions drove me towards the Gospel instead of away from it. This is the main way I believe parents can keep accountability within their homes. It would be wonderful if we could be perfect parents, but that won't ever happen however much we try. However, if you strive to instill in your children a love and a passion for the truth and person of Jesus Christ then your very errors will drive them into to arms of Christ for answers.