"So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal."--2 Cor. 4:18 Last night, I watched Glory (1989), a Civil War movie about General Robert Gould Shaw, the Union leader of the 54th Massachusetts Infantry. His regiment was (one of) the first black regiments that gave their lives for this country. They were a motley crew of African Americans, some who were born free as well as those who were born slaves and had escaped.
Shaw worked his men hard, because he believed he was training up soldiers that were going to see action on the battlefield. He did not allow goofing off, and he required discipline and punishment to be meted out when necessary. At times, it even seemed excessively harsh. However, he was fair and stood up for his men, even when others did not.
Unlike his contemporaries, who believed that these soldiers were good for nothing except for field work and looting, he held his men up to high standards. They were well trained and ready for action. At the end, he was finally able to see his men enter into the action for which they had trained. He courageously volunteered his regiment, though he knew that the casualties would be high. He believed in them and were confident that they were up to the challenge. They all fought valiantly, and more than half of his regiment was killed, including himself.
As I was watching this, I realized that what I believe about my children is of the utmost importance because it will completely alter how I train them up. If I look at my children as "just" children, I will overlook things, chalking it up to just being a kid. However, if I look at my children as God's creation, whom God prepared for good works (Eph. 2:10), I will work them hard. While I am no "Tiger Mother", I don't believe that I am to just let things slide either.
For example, our youngest, Jonathan, is a feisty, opinionated 3-year-old. Whenever we cross wills, which is often, he lets us know his displeasure by screaming. (I'll be honest here, so you know that my kids are no angels.) However, I do not count that as acceptable behavior. I will not tolerate it. Even if it means I have to stop what I'm doing and deal with it, I cannot let him get away with it. When I excuse it, I pay for it later because it only gets worse. I discipline him because I believe that God wants to use his strong will someday in the future. I can see that being a strength, but not in its current state. I believe God can one day take his opinions, ones that have been trained and shaped into godly use, and use it one day to firmly stand for the Lord and speak truth to others.
Because Colonel Shaw believed in his soldiers' value in battle, he trained them and prepared them for it. He had a vision that went beyond what he saw at the moment. Likewise, I need to look beyond what I see in Jonathan right now and look at him as someone that God may one day use. If I believe that my children have immense value in God's eyes and in His kingdom, I will likewise train them for it, even when they are young. I will hold their feet to the fire not because I want to simply exercise my parental authority but because I believe they are made for greater things. I will take the hard road because I know that God is looking for men and women who will stand in the gap for Him in their generation. I want my children to be ready for that work.
I believe my children are not just children, but God's workers, soldiers, builders of His church, the ones that will make sure the gospel continues to spread in a world that is rapidly decaying. Yes, they are still growing and have a lot to learn. It's going to take a lot of hard work and training on my part. But when I believe that they are made for more than just this life, I will work towards preparing them so that one day, after I am gone, they will be equipped to carry on the work of Jesus in their generation.
Happy Mother's Day, dear friends. May you continue to carry on the good work at home that the Lord calls us to do.
This part 5 of 5 in the series iMother. You can find the rest of the posts here.