One week ago everyone went home.
Camp Comer was long over, but we’d extended with visits from Elizabeth with Duke and little Scarlet, and then the unexpected delight of our other daughter, Rebekah, coming for a long weekend.
While they were here I relished the moments, ignoring e-mails and messages and responsibilities and deadlines (and cleaning!) to fully pour myself into relationships that will be mine for a lifetime.
I cuddled with Duke when too much play with too many friends and cousins left him exhausted. We lay on my cushy feather bed, his head resting on my heart, imagining castles and knights and maybe could we make a fort in the attic space above the bedroom?
I issued yes’s for all the times I’d no’d my own kids.
Yes you can help yourself to the gum in the top drawer. Yes, you can have a bit of unhealthy whipped-cream-from-the-can on your vegan hot chocolate. Yes, we’ll build forts and find nooks where imaginations can fly us to other worlds.
They’re all gone now and my little cottage in the fir woods is neat and clean once again. Handprints on the windows lingered long enough to remind me why I’m spending my summer writing words for parents— words I’d longed for when I was the mama with little ones.
And then this morning I read a passage in God’s word I’ve read a million times and somehow this time it lit up the page like the marquees in Times Square:
Here is a trustworthy saying: Whoever aspires to be an overseer desires a noble task. Now the overseer is to be:
…faithful to his wife
…able to teach
…not given to drunkenness
…not violent but gentle
…not a lover of money
And even while I cringe at the realization of how I fall short, it dawns on me that this is God’s matrix for the kind of spiritual leaders He is looking for. A list of character qualities that He values.
A list for parents in the thick of raising the next generation of men and women who will shape the Church and will bring the Kingdom of God into their world.
I’m excited now and fully awake to the riches hidden in plain sight!
This is why Phil and I have changed course after years and decades of pastoring in the local church. Why we are risking security and ease and saying no to retirement and a gazillion things that take up time. Why I am packing my suitcase to trek to un-touristy places like Haiti and Uganda and Albania instead of staying ensconced in my cozy little cottage in the woods.
God has tapped us on the shoulder and beckoned us to come alongside parents who are raising the next leaders and elders and deacons and teachers and entrepreneurs and engineers. His invitation to us is to teach and encourage and train and point out the wisdom pieces in God’s Word that lay waiting to be discovered.
Treasures like Proverbs 24:3,4:
By wisdom a house is built,
And through understanding it is established;
Through knowledge its rooms are filled with rare and beautiful treasures.
There’s a metaphor to inspire parents! To build and then establish a spiritual house where rare and beautiful treasures are the norm. A calling to wisdom and understanding.
I read that list in 1Timothy knowing it was the Apostle Paul’s inspired-by-God list for choosing leaders in Timothy’s church. And at the same time I read it sensing that Paul’s list is also a parent’s list.
Because, what every counselor or teacher knows is:
… that faithfulness and self-control and gentleness instead of violence are best taught early before a child is hardened into hard-to-change ways of dealing with conflict.
… that being quarrelsome can be nipped in the bud when parents encourage humility and teach their children ways to listen and understand instead of allowing them to succeed by demanding control over their siblings.
…that being hospitable is best taught by throwing open the doors of our homes and lives to people who need the refuge we offer.
… and being not a lover of money is ingrained in a child who is taught and shown how to be grateful and generous.
And so I sit at my desk this summer, reaching for words to explain truths in the Scriptures that work in real life. Writing and rewriting and studying and pondering— asking God to make His wisdoms easier to find, to gift me— and all the parents who want to raise followers of Jesus— with a depth of understanding that will enable us to raise children who will become the next generation of leaders.
I’ll be spilling over onto the pages of this place, of course. Some things just can’t wait the months needed to create a whole book. And I’d love to hear from you— young moms, hope-to-be-someday moms, empty-nest moms and those who were raised in the ways of wisdom—
What is it you know about the spiritual training of children that you’re sensing is a rare and beautiful treasure?
What is it that you know now, that you wish you’d known then?
What are the areas you need help in this task of raising children whose hearts burn to know God? Members of the tribe who A.W.Tozer called “children of the burning hearts”?
And books! Don’t forget to send me the names of books that have fueled your quest for wisdom and understanding. I would love to gather your questions and treasures as I write.
From my heart,