A Patient Parent
8 Jan 2010
"Don't be misled—you cannot mock the justice of God. You will always harvest what you plant." Galatians 6:7 (NLT)I pray that this encourages and challenges you as it has me, to be careful of what I am planting in the hearts and lives of my children each and every day. You can see this devotional and more at Proverbs 31 Ministries.
One of the most damaging choices a person can make is to give up too soon when faced with a failure. I see this in children all the time. A child doesn't make the sports team in junior high, and gives up before his body has a chance to develop. Another stops singing because she doesn't get a solo in the school play, and her voice hasn't reach maturity. Children face "failure" in many ways, and discouragement can hinder their spiritual growth and potential. How can a parent help?
There's a biblical principle parents can apply when helping a child overcome failure and explore their potential. Galatians 6:7-8 says, "Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man rea ps what he sows. The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life" (NIV).
Paul used the analogy of planting to explain the principle of spiritual growth. He encouraged his readers to sow into the things of God, with the promise they would reap the things of God. In the life of a Christian we sow into God by how we think, speak, our actions, where we spend our money, and our time. These are investments in a God-honoring life, which reaps a harvest of blessing – but not in the same season. There is always a delay between sowing and reaping.
What if we considered our children's hearts and lives as a garden? The principles of sowing and reaping apply as well. Every day we sow into those "gardens" through our words, behavior, and the disciplines we teach them. However, just like a vegetable garden, if we plant carrot seeds, we will reap carrots – not corn. Consequently, if we sow negative seeds of discouragement, we will reap despair. If we sow seeds of impatience, we will reap frustration. If we sow seeds of laziness, we will reap stress.
Conversely, if we sow healthy seeds of good choices, we will reap self-discipline. If we sow seeds of patience, we will reap peace. If we sow seeds of perseverance, we will reap success. Our children's hearts are rich soil prepared by God to receive good seed. As conscientious gardeners, we need to plant those that will reap a harvest in our children's lives and prepare them for service in the kingdom of God.
What if you don't see results right away? That's normal. After a few days, the farmer doesn't get frustrated with slow growth and rip the seeds out of the ground. No. The farmer continues to water the soil, shoo the birds away, and pull the weeds. The farmer protects the seed until it has a chance to grow in its own time.
God designed our children to grow and flouris h with love and care. However, failure can be the weeds in our children's lives. Weeds don't destroy the good seed, they just leech the nutrients out of the soil limiting the growth of the plant. Failure doesn't destroy our children's potential; it just removes the enthusiasm from their hearts.
In order to overcome the pain and heartache of failure, children need a parent who will step in with fresh water and bright sunlight, while replacing the weeds with healthy seed. With this tender care, perseverance and self-discipline will grow and develop. Then in time, our children will produce a harvest of confidence. May we be gardeners who don't give up until the harvest.
Dear Lord, I praise You for Your almighty power and wisdom. Thank You for making me with potential to grow and change. Help me to see that same potential in those I love and to become a gardener of healthy seed in their lives. Help me to see failure as something to overcome, not stop me for a live of obedience. In Jesus' Name, Amen.