My posts have not been as regular these last two weeks. Life has a way of getting busy. You know how it goes. You’ve experienced it. The busyness of life ebbs and flows with each various season and stage of life. Family, work, community, church, all have a way of keeping one rather busy.
Right now, life in my household is certainly eventful. It’s probably not much different from many young households in our country. We have four young children—an infant, a two-year-old, a four-year-old, and a seven-year-old. There are not too many dull moments. My wife and I aren’t worried about getting bored.
Parenting is no half time job. It’s a keep the older two from fighting, get the two-year-old a snack, nurse the baby, help with homework, change the poopy diaper, cook the supper, good manner teaching, kiss the boo-boo, Jesus loving, find the nuk, potty training, bad dream comforter, child hugging, baby rocking, no sleep getting, full time, nonstop job.
That’s where my life is at right now. Sure I get tired. Yes I get cranky. (Just ask my bride.) But that’s my life and I’m thankful for it. I have no desire to wish away the busyness of family life, or to wish my children older. As one wise mother-in-law told me; little kids, little problems; big kids, big problems! The Lord has put me in this vocation at this time and I’m rejoicing in it, even if it is rather messy. (And believe me, the poopy diapers going on at my house have been messy!)
Yes, I do also have another full time job as a pastor. That has its own challenges and burdens too. But the vocation of parent is powerfully important in multiple ways. My wife and I have made an arrangement to celebrate the importance of our parental vocations while also making sure we can pay our bills, have a home, give an offering, and buy the groceries. In short, I work full time but she earns half my salary. No. Not by IRS standards. I get paid for the 50-60 hours I put in every week as a pastor. But the pay scale for stay-at-home moms’ is not too lucrative. Society has too long devalued and disparaged the tremendous work that stay-at-home moms do. And I believe our challenged society is now reaping the fruit of that false belief. Nonetheless, this is why, in our home, she earns half my salary.
In any case, we agreed to make it our priority to parent our children and teach them in the way of the Lord. And as we continue to find out, that’s no small task. It takes time, commitment, discipline, patience (I’m still working on that one!), love, time, encouragement, teamwork (with four kids we typically run a zone defense), and did I mention time? It’s not easy. Those of you who are parents know this. But we keep at it nonetheless—faults, failures, imperfections and all.
The fact is, the Bible has long said that parents are the most formative influences on their children: “Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it” (Proverbs 22:6). Then flip the numbers around and go to Proverbs 6:22 (actually 20-22). “20My son, keep your father’s commands and do not forsake your mother’s teaching. 21Bind them upon your heart forever; fasten them around your neck. 22When you walk, they will guide you; when you sleep, they will watch over you; when you awake, they will speak to you. (Also see Deuteronomy 6:6-9).
It’s no wonder that Luther writes about the vocation of parents: “In all the world this is the noblest and most precious work, because to God there can be nothing dearer than the salvation of souls…Most certainly father and mother are apostles, bishops, and priests to their children, for it is they who make them acquainted with the gospel. In short, there is no greater or nobler authority on earth than that of parents over their children, for this authority is both spiritual and temporal.” (AE 45:47, Estate of Marriage, 1522.)
Amid all of the pleas for the church to have its number one priority be the seeking and saving of the lost, I believe that plea must begin in our homes, with our children, fulfilling our vocation as parents.
This, too, is the mission of the Holy Christian Church.