Today’s Reading: Proverbs 14 – 16
I few days ago I complained about how much I hated my work. I hate my work, seriously, I hate my work. But work is only 40 – 50 hours a week. Sure, I have 18 – 20 more years of work.
When I wrote the post the other day about hating my job my good old friend Greg wrote a comment on the post. He explained that he understood what my work was lacking – “We all want to feel that our work is significant.” He is right. Four years ago when I did this same work for the first time, it was important, there was a lot of attention, people were looking to me for an answer. Now they don’t, now everyone is tired and hates the work I do, even me. But we want our work to mean something. We want to see significance in what we do.
But I have a job that has gone on for over 18 years and will continue until the day I die. It is a job that has significance.
My job is to raise my children in the fear and admonition of the Lord.
Ephesians 6:4 (NIV)
4Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.
I love this job. It is challenging and rewarding. It means something.
I see this job as one of bringing children into the world, caring for them and then preparing them for their own way in this world. We start by doing everything for them. We feed them, cloth them and protect them from every danger. But as they grow up we have to begin to allow them to do some things for themselves. We teach them to crawl, walk and then run. We teach them to eat, use a spoon and then a fork and knife. We buy and pick out their clothes for them and then we teach them to buy and pick their own clothes. When they are a child we pick their friends for them, then we teach them to pick their own friends.
These are tasks within a job that hold significance. Sure, we could do everything for them for the rest of their lives, but that is not God’s plan. God’s plan is that the child grows up, experiences the world and finds their place in the world. We don’t abandon them. We are still looking out for them, but now we are looking out for them for new challenges. We no longer watch as they cross the street, but we do help them think about who they will marry or how they will raise their kids. We let go of the old lessons and we prepare for the next lessons, the next chapter in life, the harder chapters. We move on.
Solomon has had some verses in the first 16 chapters of Proverbs for us about parents and children.
Proverbs for Parents
So far we have had three proverbs for parents:
Proverbs 13:22 NIV
A good man leaves an inheritance for his children’s children, but a sinner’s wealth is stored up for the righteous.
Proverbs 13:24 NIV
He who spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is careful to discipline him.
Proverbs 14:26 NIV
He who fears the LORD has a secure fortress, and for his children it will be a refuge.
The first one tells me I should consider what I am leaving my children. Sure, it could be talking only about money, but I would like to think Solomon is talking about a more valuable inheritance – a spiritual inheritance – one that last forever.
The second proverb is a well known one. It simple means that godly discipline is good for a child. It is done in love by caring parents to a loved child. It is not done in anger or hate and it is not done without a sense of mercy and justice.
The third one is very powerful. For as I know the Lord, as I try to walk in His way, it is a demonstration to my children that will last for eternity. It is not saying that my salvation in any way is my child’s salvation. It is saying that I should lead the way for them in the fear and admonition of the Lord.
Proverbs for Children
So far we have four proverbs written for children.
Proverbs 10:1 NIV
A wise son brings joy to his father, but a foolish son grief to his mother.
Proverbs 10:5 NIV
He who gathers crops in summer is a wise son, but he who sleeps during harvest is a disgraceful son.
Proverbs 13:1 NIV
A wise son heeds his father’s instruction, but a mocker does not listen to rebuke.
Proverbs 15:20 NIV
A wise son brings joy to his father, but a foolish man despises his mother.
The first and last proverbs are nearly identical. They are warnings to children telling them that they, the child, has a decision to make. They can either bring joy to their parents or they can despise their parents and bring grief. I find it interesting that the consequence of being a foolish child is to hurt the mother. There is a special bond between a mother and a child that is especially hurt when a child is foolish, more so than for a father.
The second proverb is a simple lesson that a wise child is one that works and is not lazy.
The third proverb is also a simple one to read, a harder one to actually do. Wise children follow instructions of their parents, foolish children don’t listen to correction. Again, it is the choice of the child.
In all of Solomon’s proverbs I have not found a single proverb about my work at my employer. But every day that I read I find at least one proverb about how I should be doing my job as a parent. It is an important job. It is one that has everlasting consequences. It is a job that God gave me and one that He cares about. It is one that has significance.
For those of you who have children – I pray that you accept the significance of the job that God has given you. I pray that you find success and joy in this endeavor.
For those of you who do not have children – Please pray for those of us who do. We need your prayers. Our job is a complicated and laborious one. It never ends until the day we die. Pray for our strength and wisdom to do the right thing. Remember, they don’t teach this stuff in schools.
For those of you who are children of a parent (that means all of us) – I pray that we can see the value and significance of the job that our parent are trying to do. We should try to help them. We can help them by being responsive to their instruction. Most importantly we can follow in their footsteps in knowing and loving the Lord.