Saturday, February 2, 2008

Heroes

The topic of the Bible study was who do you admire the most and why. I thought of my dad and my pastor. As we talked that night, several of the guys mentioned their dad and one mentioned a friend.

The leader of the Bible study said that according to A.W. Tozer, the value we place on others is a window to our own soul.

Do we admire celebrities, sports figures or maybe someone who has been successful in business or has money? I can see the connection between who we focus on and what we are or become.

A question was asked of one of the guys who said he admired his dad, “Was he your hero when you were growing up?” He answered that he was.

I admired my dad because he was such an example of self-sacrifice, giving and thoughtfulness. Was he my hero when I was growing up, probably not. I’m sure that as a very young child he was but in my mid teens I would have thought of my dad as too strict and very stupid. I probably thought better of him during my twenties and as I grew older came to appreciate him much more. Did he change? No, it was my perspective of him that did.

Am I my kid’s hero? Probably not, at least to the ones older than six. Should that bother me? I don’t think so. I think it’s a rare teenager who admires a parent. We know that most teenagers know all there is to know and it is very hard for them to condescend to mere mortals let alone their parents.

As kids enter their twenties they are aware of all their parents imperfections and are usually oblivious to their own. When my wife and I were in our young twenties we were on a short-term mission trip and lived with a missionary couple and their three children. Boy, we sure could have told them a thing or two about child rearing and other areas where they needed improvement. I think the same happens with our parents. We figure we are going to do a much better job than they did. I hope that we all will.

After years of marriage, children and life, I saw my dad in a completely different way. I appreciated what he did for me, and the difficult job it was trying to raise a child like me. He did a good job in raising my brother, sister and me but was far from perfect. His life was far from perfect but I absolutely admire him for the person he was. I realized how hard marriage, parenting, working and living are and I thought a little less of my own abilities.

I think parents worry too much these days about being their child’s friend or the status of their relationship. That’s not to say that we shouldn’t do all we can to communicate with them and be a good parent. What I’m saying is that history will be the judge. Their view in their thirties, forties and fifties will be much different than when they were younger.

Live in the present, do the best job you can as a parent and don’t expect your child to be your friend. Don’t let fear of alienation direct how you raise and discipline them. Give them something to appreciate when they are finally able to do so. If you do this they will probably speak well of you at your funeral and maybe even before.

Philip

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