Full text of Pastor Andy Stanley’s talk titled “The Patient Parent” which is a part of the lecture series called ‘Parenting in the 21st Century’.
Listen to the MP3 Audio here:
Andy Stanley – Leadership Author and Pastor of North Point Ministries
So here’s something to help launch us into today’s topic. I want you to think about this, your parents’ behavior.
Think about this, your parents’ behavior.
Your parents’ behavior, not their advice… not their advice determined whether or not you would want to be like them, or even with them when you were old enough to choose for yourself.
Think about that.
It was your parents’ behavior, not their advice, not even their parenting skills that determine whether or not you want to be like them or with them.
It was how they behaved towards you. It was how they behaved toward each other. It was what they did. It wasn’t what they required.
Again, it was their behavior, not their parenting skills, that determined the trajectory of your relationship with your parents.
So… And this should give us all a moment to pause.
Chances are, your behavior not your advice, will determine whether or not your children will want to be like you or whether or not they even like you. Your behavior will determine whether or not your children will want to be you or even be with you when they’re old enough to decide for themselves.
I mean, that’s a little scary, isn’t it?
Similarly, in similar way. Your parents’ behavior, think about this. Your parents’ behavior determined how much respect you had or have for your parents.
And respect, this is important, respect creates influence. If there’s no respect, there’s no influence and odds are the same will be true with you and your children.
If you want influence with your children later, and trust me, you will, you must maintain their respect now. And the way you maintain their respect is how you behave. More on that in just a bit.
We are in Part Two of this series entitled Parenting in the 21st Century.
So if you are a parent, if you’re about to be a parent, you hope to be a parent, maybe you’re helping another parent parent or you’re watching your own kids’ parent, this is for you. It’s actually for anybody who feels the weight and the responsibility of equipping an infant, a child, a teenager, or a student for life.
And those of us who were engaged really at any level in helping another human being, you know, grow up, recognize pretty quickly that just because we had a parent doesn’t mean we know anything about being one.
And just because we were a kid once, doesn’t mean we know anything about raising one any more than having had a surgery once, prepares you for surgery, right?
Now, last week we began by connecting what might be considered two very uncomfortable dots. The dots between marriage and parenting.
We discussed the tension between what’s real and what’s ideal, then we explored the way that Jesus navigated that tension. He never dumbed down the truth to make people feel better. He pointed to an ideal. He inspired people toward an ideal, but at the same time, He never turned down the grace when people fell short of the ideal.
Oddly enough, the people who fell short of the ideal, they actually liked Jesus. They flocked to Jesus. They liked Him, even though they knew they were not really anything like Him and He liked them back.
In fact, the only group… the only group Jesus didn’t seem to like were those who held up the ideal, but did nothing to help those who fell short of the ideal.
In fact, on one occasion, a group of religious people came to Jesus and they said, “Jesus, you hurt our feelings, you hurt our feelings.” And Jesus wasn’t having it.
Here’s what He said to them. He said, “Woe to you.” You don’t want to ever be on the other end of a woe to you from Jesus.
He said, “Woe to you because, you load people down with burdens they can hardly carry and you yourselves will not lift one finger to help them.” (Luke 11:46)
In other words, He was saying, “You religious leaders, you weigh people down with the ideal, but you do nothing to help them navigate what’s real, the realities of life.”
But Jesus… Jesus was different. He pointed toward it, He inspired toward an ideal, while helping people navigate what was right there in front of them, what was so real. In fact, His sandals were firmly planted in what was real, but He continually pointed to the ideal.
As we said, last time, Jesus was all grace and He was all truth all the time.
Now, if we’re talking about parenting and if you’ve read much of the Bible, you know that when it comes to good examples of family, and when it comes to good examples of parenting, there are virtually none to be found in the Bible.
In fact, when it comes to examples of real-life family dysfunction, the Bible is actually your go-to-source. It is full of family dysfunction. In fact, apparently even Jesus didn’t get along with His own siblings. They thought He was crazy. They thought He was crazy until after the resurrection and then there was like a collective, “Oh, well that explains things.”
But in terms of learning anything about parenting, even from the story of Jesus, the story of Jesus isn’t even helpful. But Jesus and the authors of the New Testament pointed the way forward for all of us and specifically, I think, pointed the way forward for parents.
And while Jesus never talked about parenting directly, He laid the foundation for New Testament parenting, when He laid the foundation for New Testament behavior.
Did I mention that your behavior will determine whether or not your children will want to be like you, with you or even like you?
Anyway, so Jesus laid the foundation for His followers’ behavior when He issued His new covenant command. We talk about this all the time. He called it His new command, “A new command I give you,” He said, not to be added to the existing commands. His new command was designed to replace all the existing commands.
As we’ve discussed before, the Apostle Paul referred to this all encompassing new command as the law of Christ… the law of Christ, which is to love others as Jesus loved us.
Now, one of the things that we’re fond of saying around here is that following Jesus will make your life better and will make you better at life. And to the point of this series, following Jesus will make you a better parent, because at the core of being a Jesus’ follower is an ethic of others first, an ethic of selflessness, and nothing, let’s face it.