Bryan and I are fond of saying that our children are on "loan." It helps us to remember that each one of them is a special gift from God- a gift He has given with the express charge that we should raise them in a way that pleases Him. Bryan had a few days off at the end of last week, and we ended up spending a lot of time talking about our children and our parenting. We both have really been feeling like we need to encourage and praise the kids more. It's easy to correct them when they're wrong, but it's just as easy to overlook all the times they do obey or show kindness to a sibling.
I was still thinking along those lines this morning when I sat down for my regular Bible reading. It amazes me how God, in His infinite wisdom, can take a "scheduled," through-the-Bible type reading, and reveal something that is just so timely. It's not as if He needs to thunder, "Read 1 Thessalonians!" The Word of God is living and active, and He knows just how to make those words come alive for the need of the moment.
Anyway, I was reading 1 Thessalonians, and buried in Paul's praise and thanksgiving for the believers, I found some very interesting thoughts on parenting. First, in 2:7, Paul says, "We were gentle among you, just as a nursing mother cherishes her own children." Mothers, in Paul's view, should be gentle, and they should cherish their children as they would a treasure. This, for me, requires me to slow down. My life moves so fast sometimes that I don't take the time to cherish them and show that godly gentleness.
Then, in 2:11-12, Paul makes a comment about fathers. "We exhorted, and comforted, and charged every one of you, as a father does his own children, that you would walk worthy of God who calls you into His own kingdom and glory." What an amazing statement! Fathers (and I would venture to say that this applies to mothers too) should encourage and comfort their children, urging them to live lives worthy of God's calling. While rebuke and correction certainly have their place- Paul's letters are filled with admonishments for his "children"- this reminded me that our main focus as parents should be nurturing our children for the kingdom of God, in gentleness, with encouragement.