My kids can thank me for their good vision. But they can also blame me for the crooked teeth they had straightened with orthodontics.
But I haven’t just set my two children up with physical blessings and cursings. It’s likely that I’ve paved their paths in other ways as well.
Fact is, I’m setting the pace for their lives in many ways…with every decision I make, every attitude I harbor, every word I say, and every habit I practice.
For the past several days I’ve been reading in 1 Kings and I’ve begun to notice a trend. I bet you’ve seen it too.
Turns out that David’s decisions and lifestyle sent his sons Absalom, Amnon, and Solomon in three different directions. Saul’s tormented attitudes drove Jonathan to an early death. And Solomon’s short-lived wisdom and success predicated his son’s short-lived reign on the throne and shrunk the kingdom he inherited significantly.
And that’s not all. The chapters I read indicate one son after another who reaped the consequences of his father’s or grandfather’s actions. Sometimes the inheritance was good. The father had done well and so the son was blessed. Other times, unfortunately, the dad messed up and the son ended up trying to clean up the pieces he left in his wake. Blessings and cursings. Inheritances and handicaps.
That makes me think: what am I setting my children up with?
Sometimes the consequences of our actions are direct and unmistakeable.
- A divorce leaves a child with a fractured family and a shattered concept of commitment.
- If I neglect to provide for my child financially, he inherits poverty and must work his way up out of a pit before he’s had a chance to fly.
- And if I don’t take my child to church on a regular basis but only occasionally, then I teach him that God is secondary, an afterthought, maybe even an inconvenience.
But I’m sure there are more subtle set ups in the making every day of our lives. Little decisions, “harmless” words, unintentional reactions, stubborn attitudes we think belong to us alone and affect no one else. We’re wrong. The Bible clearly teaches that our ways–all of them–are laying the pavement our children will walk on in their adult years.
For instance, what kind of path do I pave for my children when I:
- gossip with my friends, sneering at others’ mistakes and casting judgment on situations I’m not fully briefed on?
- neglect to help the poor, show concern for the hurting, or give assistance to the down and out?
- insist on having things my way all the time, refusing to bow to others’ preferences occasionally?
- raise my voice in anger?
- fight unfairly with my spouse, calling to account past grievances and using words like “never” and “always” and “divorce” and “hate”?
- produce lavish Christmases, birthdays, and vacations for my family, but never include anyone else who might not have a family to celebrate with?
- pick up my Bible on Sunday mornings and lay it back down by 1:00 that afternoon, rarely locating it otherwise?
- sit stoically through the Sunday morning sermon and then enjoy roasted preacher for lunch?
- ask my child or spouse to tell whoever is on the other end of the phone that “I’m not here”?
- rarely call my parents or include them in family outings and plans?
- shop ’til I drop, pulling out the little plastic card to “pay” for things I can’t afford?
Ahh, the list could go on and on and on. The little things. The little things that I’ve seen have huge consequences in other peoples’ lives. The little things that I’m setting up my children with.
So I ask myself today–and I ask you–what choices have I made today…this day…that have set my children up for blessings? And what decisions have I made or neglected to make that have set them up for struggles, for problems?
It’s something to think about. Seriously.
Summer has been a testing ground for this. I've been much more cognizant lately of who they see when they look at me. Thanks for making me stop and really think about the influence I'm having on these precious people God has entrusted to me.