One Million Arrows Christian Parenting Blog

Posted in: Parenting

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24
Born Into A Battlefield
Guest Author: Nathan Wilkerson
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So, God tells us that children are his gift to us and he wants us to pass that truth on to them, but what about the second word picture—that of children as arrows in the hand of a skilled warrior. It seems to me that there are two things to be observed here. First, this is a wartime theme—arrows in the hand of a skilled warrior. Every child born since the fall has been born into a battlefield. In God's estimation, they don't enter as prisoners of war or refugees, they enter as arrows. Here is how Julie Ferwerda, author of One Million Arrows says it,

"Remember, there's a war going on in the heavenlies. Our children can either be pawns unaware, or they can be weapons of mass destruction against forces of evil in the unseen realm. We've got a choice to make. 'It's the righteous man who lives for the next generation,' says Dennis Rainey of FamilyLife Ministries. 'This is not the time for peace, it's time for war. Raise your kids to become arrows for war.' Only then will our kids be the conquerors God intended, not the casualties."

Just like arrows, our children have a destination or a destiny and God is the archer. We should see them as arrows that Jesus will use to push back Satan's influence and bring others into the kingdom of light. So how should we react to this truth? We should shape and sharpen them.

On the positive side of shaping our arrows, we should practice redemptive discipline. Rules in the home should be few, clear, and appropriately enforced. Regarding rules and consequences, our children want to know how long they can disobey us before we'll actually do something. If our children discover that we respond right after our faces turn bright red, then we will have taught them to disobey until just until we're turning a dark pink.

It can be a sign of a major parenting deficiency if we find that we're repeating ourselves a lot to our get the attention of our children. This is a terrible scenario for a couple of reasons. First, it relies on anger and frustration as its energy source. Children learn that anger is a source of power and will model that in future relationships. Besides that, parents who spend every day angry and frustrated with the kids get burned out with parenting. Worse still, they come to actually dislike their children. Without meaning to, they telegraph their dislike to their children and relational cords get broken.

Second, neither party is learning to obey God. Parents, the best time to discipline our children is when we don't feel like it. That's when we're purely responding in obedience to God's command. Then our children will learn that God is the boss of mom and dad. They see obedience modeled. They will also learn to submit their wills on the basis of a command. Such children will be ready to be released to obey God.

I remember when our older kids were 2 and 4. We didn't really like them. They made our lives pretty hard. Then we encountered a book that encouraged us to train them by disciplining them for the first infraction of a clearly stated command. Two things happened. First, we ordered our kids around a lot less. We discovered that we'd been flippantly telling them to do things that weren't all that important because we had no intention of responding to their disobedience. Once we committed to active parenting, we cut our rules down to the essentials.

The second thing that happened was we discovered that our children had a sin nature. By giving clear commands and strictly enforcing them, we saw that disobedience often stemmed from pure rebellion. Our children would continue to misbehave for extended periods of time, even though it brought them only hardship. They simply didn't want to admit defeat. They needed to come to a place of brokenness and surrender. In short, we needed to win. Praise God, we did. As a result, our teens are becoming amazing young people. If we'd waited to have that battle of wills when they were teens, I'm afraid it would have caused much more upheaval in our family with a less certain outcome. So before telling your child to do something, make sure that you know what you'll do if they don't, that you're able to do it, and that you do it right then.

One thing we need to remember is to painstaking make the distinction between what our children do and who they are. Even if our children lie, they must never come to believe that we think they are liars. God has demonstrated this so beautifully through the cross. At one point in him, he has demonstrated his hatred for sin and his love for sinners. We as parents must be swift in our response to sin and even more swift to affirm our children.

Okay, so far, from Psalm 127:3-5 we've seen that children need to be valued and trained. In other words, we need to make sure our children understand that they are amazing just like they are AND that they need to change. At first blush, these ideas may seem to contradict and in fact they often do in practice. God, however, specializes in paradoxes. Look at Eph. 2:10-

"For we are God's masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago."

It's like God is saying, yes you're wonderful, now get to work! Ryan and Anne Rana describe these two sides of parenting as structure and relationship. According to them, both must be present and in balance for parenting to work. Parents who are too strict without connecting with their children will produce rebels. On the other hand, parents who are too permissive in the name of love and friendship will most likely produce rebels. Parenting is a dynamic process where we find the right mix of each for each child and for the family as a whole. Through a lot of prayer and a little trial and error we groove our parenting to produce the children and disciples that God has commissioned us to produce.

wilkersonNathan Wilkerson is a Bible teacher and member of New Heights Church. We appreciate his contribution of this parenting series!

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