Child-Training: Before You Place Your Foot On The Path, Stop!

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(This is number three in a row in a larger series on Child-Training–“Ten Things” Most Important in Child-Training: Advice from An Older Woman.)  Click to read number one, “The Proof is in the Pudding”, and number two, “What’s It Going To Take?”)

Hugely impacted by the way we were raised, we accept or reject standards and practices, activities and pastimes, hobbies and interests, based on how our parents raised us, what “everybody” we know is doing, pride, desire to “fit in”, desire to look good in others’ eyes, or desire to purely please our flesh.  If, for one second, we sat down and prayed about it, presented a completely clean slate to the Lord with no presuppositions, were truly willing to do exactly what He said, and asked what He wanted us to fill our time and lives with, what difference would it make in the world?  What difference would it make in our souls?  What difference would it make in our “fruit”–in our children’s lives.
I believe that satan is going through the orchards of Christians and robbing them of their fruit, making their fruit unappealing, not very sweet, and startlingly small, and we are giving up without a fight, in fact we are full participants with him. Christian parents are willing for their spiritual fruit to be paltry.  Oftentimes, they choose to be involved in things which promise physical good: strength, stamina, prowess, their physical ability to be magnified.  All through our lives, it’s not going to be the obvious wickedness which satan tempts us to do which will make or break our spiritual lives and decide the outcome of our fruit.  It’s the choice between the good and the best.  It’s about time.

So, as we begin the spring season, heading into summer, here is my counsel to you:

Number seven in my list of “Ten Things” I would tell a young mom, as an older woman who’s raised her children to adulthood:  if you want to raise Godly children:
7) Limit or Eliminate Team Sports—We had few. Teams (sports and otherwise) are a dictator over your family’s life and take over your time and schedule. They become your master. Your love for, and allegiance to, them will tempt you to compromise your convictions and to disobey God, and will constantly ask for and demand more and more of you. When our children were in grade school and junior high, I was appalled and saddened by the number of “championship” games that were scheduled on Sundays. (Later, even practices were scheduled on the Lord’s Day). This caused Christian families to have to make a choice between their desire and conviction to worship God and their commitment to the team and not wanting to disappoint their child.   Being on a team (or squad, etc.) often introduces your child to foolish (if not immoral) companions, exposes your child needlessly to the world, and invites unnecessary temptations.
Let me tell you a true story to illustrate.  When our son was on a team in grade school, a boy brought a certain “magazine,” well-known for its lewd and immoral pictures, to practice and was passing it around showing it to some of the boys–fortunately our son wasn’t one of those who saw the pictures.  The coach thought the whole incident very funny.  We went to all the practices and games, or we may have known nothing of it. Many a man was introduced to pornography in this very manner, and now it has destroyed his life and family.
Have you placed your foot on the path?  If not, stop.  I am very wary of  “starting down a road” and not being able to turn back.  One decision in the early years of a child’s life can start you down a path, on a road, which takes you to a destination you had no intention of going to.  Have you ever been on a highway, and realized that you were going the wrong way, but couldn’t get off?  No exit ramps. You end up miles and miles down the road, and often it is a very long, time-consuming task, fraught with frustration to turn around and get back on the right road, going in the right direction.  This is a very frustrating experience when driving, but in life, it has far weightier consequences.  Every choice you make, every activity you allow your child or your family to participate in, is a step on a path, a beginning of a road.  Parents start on the road of sports involvement (or it could be ballet, tae kwon do, etc., etc., etc.,) when their children are very young, not realizing where the road leads, or even thinking through the decision at all. It’s very difficult (but not impossible) to discontinue participation in these activities (or get off the road), once you’ve placed your foot on the path.

There’s a story of a woman who won a contest, and her prize was that she would be allowed to go into a room filled with piles of money–piles of one dollar bills, ten dollar bills, twenty dollar bills, up to one hundred dollar bills–and she would be allowed to keep as much as she could collect up in 1 minute.  What would you think if she headed straight to the pile of one dollar bills? Why would that be the wrong direction to go in?  Is there anything wrong with one dollar bills? No, of course not!  The question is not always one of moral right or wrong, though sometimes that is the case, but the question is one of good, better and best!  Choosing “dollar bills” means you can’t choose “hundred dollar bills”.  Time is short! Choose the best.

See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise,
Redeeming the time, because the days are evil.
Ephesians 5:15-16 (KJV)
Choose what is best.  First and foremost, decide in your heart that these children are God’s, not yours, and surrender their lives, as well as your own, to the Lord.  Then, in light of eternity, ask Him what He wants all of you to do with your time and talents. Think about what kind of adult person God wants your child to be, and spend serious time in prayer about what you will add into their lives to develop them into that person.  Don’t take it lightly.  Often, it seems to just “happen” that our children become totally locked into a sport or activity. It doesn’t just happen–you make a choice when they are young. Often parents don’t feel that they can change, once their children are a little older, but you can, if the Lord wants you to.  Really examine your reasons and motivations and weigh the benefits and consequences, and pray earnestly about if, and why, you need to have your child involved in these extracurricular activities?  What would God have you do?

2 Replies to “Child-Training: Before You Place Your Foot On The Path, Stop!”

  1. Dear legendswife,
    Thanks again for your encouraging comments. I really do appreciate them! Yes, over and over we see the family's focus, not just the child's, on sports (that seems to be the major culprit, at least), to the point that it becomes an idol. Anything that takes that first place in our lives, instead of God, must go. We have a hard time seeing, much less giving up, those competing affections.
    Thanks again!
    Blessings as you reflect on Jesus' sacrifice for us, and look forward to celebrating His resurrection!
    Wendy

  2. Wonderful post once again! My husband and I were just talking to some friends who has a ten year old son who is struggling in school, but plays every kind of sport. My husband (bless his heart) called up the child's father a few weeks ago, and asked him “when your child is all grown up, which one do you think will matter the most? As parents we have to take a hold of Stephen Covey's advise to do everything with the end in mind.

    Thanks again for the post:) Off to bed. My allergies have been terrible today!

    God Bless

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