I have the greatest parents in the whole world. This is an indisputable fact. My dad, Wes, has been a minister (missionary/pastor) my whole life and has truly left a legacy in his children of loving the Lord and working for the glory of God. His answer for just about everything growing up was Scripture. In my view, he is a textbook example of what Paul tells Timothy to look for in an elder or minister:
He must manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive, for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God’s church? – 1 Tim. 3:4-5
This is not to say that dad was a perfect Father or that his children turned out perfectly (look at me for proof that we did not). But much of my love for the Lord, passion for ministry, and my general disposition can be attributed to my Dad’s leadership in my life.
My mom is the picture of a Proverbs 31 woman. She loves her family well and she expects a lot from her kids. She prays for us without ceasing and when we are hurting, she writes us letters that show her petitioning God for His mercy in our lives. She is without doubt the most godly woman I know. She’s not your average, traditional mom, and that’s her best quality.
I have often heard that I seem older than my actual age. People are often surprised to find that I am 23 years old. This has long been the case. In high school, people routinely guessed me to be in my twenties. Most of the time, I copped out and used my missionary-kid background as the reasoning for their bewilderment. But this is not altogether true.
I think I have always seemed older than my age because my parents treated me older than my age.
The town I live in, Danville, Virginia, is full of teenagers who are scared to leave home, have never experienced much outside of their immediate surroundings, and who greatly fear (and celebrate) driving 60 miles alone. Parents coddle their kids and try to keep them children as long as possible. I find this to be incredibly sad and, to be honest, unfair to the children and teenagers.
I started my first job at 12. I worked all the way through high school and college. When I was 16, I drove by myself from Mississippi to Florida and back, which is a 12 hour one-way drive. As a senior in high school, I had no curfew. My parents offered me as much freedom as possible and treated me like an adult from an early age. I bought my own car and paid for my own gas. I filled out my own scholarship applications and changed my own oil. And I was definitely not afraid to stay the night away from home.
Why am I telling you all of this? Am I trying to brag about how independent and grown up I am? No. I am trying to brag on how amazing my parents are. Most folks in today’s culture would read the paragraph above and call my parents irresponsible and unloving. But the truth is that my parents understood that adulthood is earned, not simply handed out. They encouraged my sisters and me to try new things, to work hard to gain success, to love the Lord and understand our faith (not piggyback on theirs), and to experience life to the fullest. They did not treat us as fragile and breakable. They did not let us freeload off of their hard work; they taught us how to work hard like they did. And that was a much more valuable commodity than the easy life most teenagers today experience.
The truth is, most people thought I was older than I was because my parents treated us as such. They expected hard work and greatness. They trusted us until we broke that trust. And then they helped us rehabilitate that trust. Although it may not look like it in today’s culture, my parents, I believe, loved me more than most, because they taught me how to be a man long before the world called me one.
And for that, I will always be thankful.
Parents, don’t be afraid to trust God with your children. He’s a better parent than you are. Proverbs 22:6 says, “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.” There will come a point when you will have to let go and trust God with your kid. Start now. Start teaching them the Word, start showing them what adulthood looks like, and for goodness sakes, take the silver spoon out of their mouth!
And kids, stop freeloading off your parents and expecting mommy or daddy to always save the day. Learn to work hard. Learn what your faith really means. Learn to become a godly man or woman. Learn how to not live in fear. And for goodness sakes, learn how to take some responsibility and earn your parents’ trust. Work hard in school, get a good job and get married young to godly spouse. Stop delaying adulthood and charge forward. Do it for God’s glory. Spit out the spoon. Grow up.