The other night I was home working on the computer, as I often do, sending some work emails to clients. I also take time out during this process to talk with and play with my kids before dinner. This past Thursday, it was time for dinner and my two girls washed up and were sitting at the table, while my son and I were slightly behind (me sending the last work email) and my son playing with his Legos. I walked by his room to tell him, not once, not twice, but three times to wash up and come to dinner. After the third strike, I told him that he just lost dinner for not obeying and listening. Obviously his world was rocked and he lost his composure. I joined the rest of my family and we prayed for our meal and began to eat when I told my son that I wanted him to get ready for bed and to come say goodnight to the rest of the family before bed. This may sound mean and heartless, but I wanted to drive a point home to him and to my family (my wife was aware by me that some mercy would take place, but she wasn't sure where I was going yet). Well, my son come down to say goodnight and kiss his sisters and mommy good night. He was both physically and emotionally shaken with concern of no dinner and bedtime story.
I went to his room, while the rest of the family just started eating and sat down to tell him why I was disappointed and then we prayed together. Afterwards I told him, because he listened intently and obeyed to my words to get ready for bed, brush his teeth, go to the bathroom and say goodnight, that he could now join us for dinner on the condition that he would not only listen the rest of the night, but he would do the words that both his mother and I asked him to do.
I also want to say that the girls were emotionally upset that I wasn't giving their brother mercy and another chance before I went to his room to talk, but they understood the consequence of his actions. When Trey and I rejoined the table for dinner, the whole family had a great time followed by clean up and some wrestling on the family room floor followed by daddy flips where I grab them by their waists and flip them over to land on my legs or stomach depending on their standing position behind my head.
I wasn't feeling really good about my actions and the turn of events that caused my son this pain and discomfort thinking that he lost a meal and more importantly to him - story time. As a matter of fact, my wife had thought I was overreacting because I may have had a stressful time at work. I was wondering if I was really being the dad that God calls me to be - the Spiritual Leader of my family and my wife.
And then it happened out of nowhere. As my kids and I were playing a game, my son said this to me, "Daddy, you are my role model." I asked him why he would say that, and he said, "because I want to be like you." My wife and I shared that instant look that parents do when positive things happen in our lives. I told him and the girls how proud that their mother and I are to be their parents.
This is exactly what God requires of us, His children: To submit, obey and follow his words. He wants a personal relationship with us and to be the Lord of our entire lives. He cares for us so much, that is why He gave his only Son to die for us in order to save us.
Proverbs 22:6 says, "Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it." Children need boundaries (lines that don't move day to day) and they need us to make our faith real to them. This world is never easy, but when we teach them to trust, obey and submit (having complete faith in God) then they have a foundation that they can trust.
The more real we are with our family, friends and co-workers (letting our life bear witness and occasionally lettings words affirm the Way) then the more real our faith becomes to them.
Trust and Obey for there is no other way!