During this season of my life, many of my sanctification moments involve my immediate family – my husband and children. My sanctification and theirs is being lived out day to day, week to week, and year to year! The good, the bad and the ugly – if you will.
One morning this past week, I was jolted to full alertness by my two favorite sons arguing in the kitchen over which food resources should be consumed and by whom. (Scarcity of food resources in a house with young, growing men is a constant real and present danger!)
“You took the last two tortillas!” accused the authoritative, firstborn, fourteen-year-old son. “You should have eaten the whole wheat bread!” With a tone of injustice and exasperation, the oldest son brings his plight to his mother, who is not the sharpest (or most sanctified) judge and juror before 9:00am. But none-the-less, sanctification never sleeps, (at least not past 9:00am!) and I am once again summoned to direct the traffic for these two budding, often bull-dozing, boys.
The first to present their case seems just, until another comes along and examines him. (Prov 18:17)
The youngest son, Caleb, often feeling to be the victim of such barrages of the high expectations from his older brother, rather dumb founded demands, “Daniel, leave me alone! I didn’t do anything wrong! You always get on to me!”
When clarity and hidden-heart agendas need to be revealed, there is a model Jesus provided. One he used over and over again. One I seek to feebly follow in our own home.
Delaying dealing with my youngest’s tone and sweeping statement, a question arises in my mind. Unclear as to why my oldest son was pushing the whole wheat bread, I asked some key questions. This brings me to my first practical principle in sanctification.
Sanctification Principle #1:
Ask questions and get THEM thinking!
Questions engage the mind and reveal thinking. Jesus modeled this throughout His interactions with different people. His purpose was often to sift to the surface the heart and the understanding of the person he was engaging.
Caution: Too often as parents, we continue do all the thinking for our older children.
Through a series of questions, it is revealed my oldest partiality toward the tortillas and his lack of fondness for whole wheat bread. Upon this revelation, we determine - together – he should not have taken a reprimanding demeanor with his younger brother which began the disgruntled detour. Reconciliation (a practical process put firmly in place in our home from the time my oldest was two) was sought with his brother, both apologized for their reactive words, attitudes and tones. Sanctification continues – relationships strengthened, bitterness abated, humility displayed, grace given – after all, He is the potter and we are the clay. The streets of sanctification are once again relatively relationally liter-free.
Weighty considerations as we journey down the streets of sanctification…
This takes TIME, LISTENING and asking QUESTIONS! Much harder than giving a command and demanding compliance, which most appropriately characterizes parenting in the child’s younger years (or the inverse mindset of leaving the children to themselves to find looking-to-the-interest-of-others, god-honoring wisdom.) As the child grows self-revelation is much more powerful and lasting than the revelation by others to the child – questions help sift self-revelation to the surface. Are we willing to invest at this level? We choose. This is a toll road. There is only a PAY NOW or PAY LATER option, because either way, we will pass through the toll booth. Pay now is proactive, pay later is reactive and tends to be much messier. Both are costly in time and energy, however one way tends to be much more harmonious, the other way much less.
Have you found this out the hard way? In some areas of my sanctification journey I sure have! My biggest struggle has been to have tools to help me be proactive. As a parent, this took genuine humility on my part, because that meant I didn’t have all the answers much less tools to help me. I don’t even think I had any answers, mostly because I didn’t have a vision for intentional parenting founded on His word and ways. Rather, I had lots of “man’s wisdom” – from my own secular upbringing, my third parent – the TV, ideas influenced by romance books and mindless music. Yikes! The only thing I can say is that when my oldest was two years old, I became keenly aware that I didn’t know where I was going with these new family additions! I hit a roadblock on the streets of sanctification.
So what do I do when I need help? Is there a street sign with instruction in His word, on what to do when we need help? Yes!! Call on the Lord, seek Him, seek Him with all our heart is what His word says. So I clung to Jeremiah 9:23-24, Jer 33:3, Prov 3:5-6, and other scriptures that revealed this “seeking and finding” principle to me and the journey began…
So roadblocks require genuine humility and a few tools in order to overcome and journey forward. I say tools and not techniques. Techniques tend to cage our thinking into a system or formula, which, when divorced from foundational understanding, are dangerous and inappropriate when it finds its application in people and relationships. Rather, we need tools which provide an image of a master tradesman with understanding utilizing a tool to accomplish a purpose.
Do you and I know our purpose as parents? Do we seek to understand our influence, stewardship, responsibility? I am afraid too often we do not. Rather than seeking sanctification in our parental thinking, we seek the path of least resistance or the path of least patience… and we settle. We settle for what the current culture says, and yes, even what some short-sighted church leaders and “church-goers” say.
One of the primary tools we need is good questions!
Good questions are by nature, engaging and relational. Without good questions, we are merely having “parallel monologues”, as I have heard my friend, Andrew Kern, say. Conversations without connections don’t strengthen relationships – with God or with others. So let’s see where we can go to find some models of good questions, then we’ll work on some principles of purpose and listening.
More probing ideas to come…
Uncomfortable? You bet, that is sanctification’s way. With the perpetual flow of seemingly prickly people in our lives as well as our own ample portions of porcupine-ness, sanctification finds its transforming abode.