The Challenge of ParentingJune 13-17
The Challenge of Parenting
Now the sons of Eli were worthless men. They did not know the Lord. – 1 Samuel 2:12 (ESV)
Erma Bombeck painted a portrait of a little girl who loved her dad but wasn’t sure what
dads do: One morning my father didn’t get up and go to work. He went to the hospital
and died the next day. I hadn’t thought that much about him before. He was just someone
who left and came home and seemed glad to see everyone at night. He opened the jar of
pickles when no one else could. He was the only one in the house who wasn’t afraid to go
into the basement by himself. He cut himself shaving, but no one kissed it or got excited
about it. It was understood when it rained, he got the car and brought it around to the
door. When anyone was sick, he went out to get the prescription filled. He took lots of
pictures…but he was never in them. Whenever I played house, the mother doll had a lot
to do. I never knew what to do with the daddy doll, so I had him say, “I’m going off to
work now,” and threw him under the bed.
The funeral was in our living room and a lot of people came and brought all kinds of good food
and cakes. We had never had so much company before. I went to my room and felt under the bed
for the daddy doll. When I found him, I dusted him off and put him on my bed. He never did
anything. I didn’t know his leaving would hurt so much. (Family-The Ties that Bind…and Gag!)
Best we can tell Eli was a good man whose life was pure. He loved God and delighted
in God’s service. Probably insightful and a cool guy to hang around the tabernacle. But it was his
parenting or lack-thereof was his undoing. He basically did nothing that matters when it came to
correcting his sons. Eli hears of the wicked things that his sons have been doing and speaks to
them about this, yet he refuses to discipline them or remove them from ministry.
Eli’s sons were literally called “sons of wickedness” and not sons of Eli. Parenting is
challenging. What are some good lessons you learned from your parents about parenting? What
are some poor lessons you learned from your parents about parenting?
Praise God for being a perfect Father. Pray for the parenting challenges that families in our
church are facing. Ask God to give them His heart for parenting.
Thus the sin of the young men was very great in the sight of the Lord, for the men treated the offering of the Lord with contempt. – 1 Samuel 2:17 (ESV)
Mike had gotten a part time job at the Post Office and the supervisor there had been warned that
he was somewhat slow, but the supervisor took a liking to him and agreed to let Mike help him.
If nothing else, he would be an extra set of hands. The supervisor gives Mike the job of sorting,
and much to everyone’s surprise, Mike separated the letters so fast that his motions were literally
a blur. Extremely pleased by this, the supervisor approached Mike at the end of the day. “I just
want you to know,” he said, “that we’re all very proud of you. You’re one of the fastest workers
we have ever had.” “Thank you,” said Mike, “and tomorrow I’ll try to do even better.” “Better?”
the supervisor asked with astonishment. “How can you possibly do better?” Mike replied,
“Tomorrow, I am going to read the addresses.”
God had given clear instructions on how to handle offerings. But Eli’s sons weren’t satisfied
with what God said was to be theirs. These two wicked sons of Eli would take the people’s
sacrifices, however and whenever they wanted. They would even take the meat of the sacrifices
before the fat had been offered in sacrifice. Plus, they would not follow the law and eat the meat
of the sacrifices only after it had been boiled.
God is concerned that we pay attention to how He wants things done. He has reasons for why
things ought to be done in a certain way. Why do you think it matters to God why and how we
do things? Is there an area of your life that you are not doing God’s way?
Praise God for giving you His Word and His Spirit to guide and direct you. Ask God to help the
parents in our church teach their kids how to follow Jesus.
Light in the Darkness
Samuel was ministering before the Lord, a boy clothed with a linen ephod. And his mother
used to make for him a little robe and take it to him each year when she went up with her
husband to offer the yearly sacrifice. Then Eli would bless Elkanah and his wife, and say,
“May the Lord give you children by this woman for the petition she asked of the Lord.” So then
they would return to their home. Indeed the Lord visited Hannah, and she conceived and bore
three sons and two daughters. And the boy Samuel grew in the presence of the Lord. – 1 Samuel 2:18-21 (ESV)
Late one evening, two fishermen were caught in a sudden storm on the sea. Unable to row to
shore, the men endured a wet, fearful night of stinging rain and swelling waves. After the storm
had passed, but still uncertain of their fate, they found comfort in glimpses of a lighthouse
beacon in the distant horizon. Darkness was all about them, but hints of hope remained.
Today's passage is much like this ocean scene: darkness and dreadful judgment pervade the
story, but glimpses of hope relentlessly break through. The opening verses record the disturbing
truth about the spiritual leadership in Israel. Yet in this dark and dreadful moment, there are
glimpses of hope. (Today in the Word)
In 1 Samuel 2:19 Samuel is light in darkness. We see each year when the family made the
pilgrimage to Shiloh, Hannah would knit a coat and bring it to her son to wear. At that time each
year, Eli would pray for Hannah that the Lord would give her more children. Eventually, the
Lord answered Eli’s prayer and Hannah had five more children. At the same time, in verse 26,
“the boy Samuel continued to grow both in stature and in favor with the Lord and also with
man.” Samuel is quietly and faithfully serving the Lord, reminding us that even in the dark
moments of our lives, God is still at work.
F. Ken Canfield, in The Seven Secrets of Effective Fathers said, Effective Fathers Are:
Committed to their children. Know their children. Are consistent in their attitudes and
behavior. Protect and Provide for their children. Love their children’s mother. Are active
listeners to their children. Spiritually equip their children. Who do you know that has modeled
Praise God for shining light in dark places. Ask God to help you recognize who He is using and
how He wants to use you as light in our Second families.
Why then do you scorn my sacrifices and my offerings that I commanded for my dwelling, and honor your sons above me by fattening yourselves on the choicest parts of every offering of my people Israel? – 1 Samuel 2:29 (ESV)
Many of us can remember when we were in grade school how whenever the teacher had to leave
the classroom for some reason, she would always tell the class to, “Be quiet and study!”
However, we also remember that as soon as she left the room, the paper wads would begin to fly!
Erasers would be flung across the room while someone would draw caricatures of the teacher on
the blackboard. And then, she would return. There was always that last minute adjustment as we
scurried back to our seats and pretended nothing had been going on. In the book of Exodus we
find Moses was called by God to go up into Mount Sinai. While he was away, the Israelites grew
restless. Looking for something to entertain them, they melted down their gold, formed a golden
calf as an idol and danced around it in worship.(Todd Coget)
People have struggled with worshiping idols for ages. In 1 Samuel 2:29, God charges Eli with
honoring his sons above God. Eli had made his sons idols and therefore did not discipline them
properly. When any parent places their kids and their kids' activities before God it’s going to
create a problem. One of the best things we can teach our kids is how to put God first, even
before family. When we do, our families are better.
Did your parents put family before God? What are some ways parents today are putting their
kids before God?
Ask God to help you evaluate your priorities by the way you spend your time, energy and
affection. Praise God for His blessings that come when our priorities are in the right order.
Therefore the Lord, the God of Israel, declares: ‘I promised that your house and the house of
your father should go in and out before me forever,’ but now the Lord declares: ‘Far be it from
me, for those who honor me I will honor, and those who despise me shall be lightly esteemed. – 1 Samuel 2:30 (ESV)
The United States Air Force, and the makers of commercial airlines, really do fire dead chickens
at their aircraft. It’s a safety issue, for aircraft do encounter birds in the air, and it’s important for the windshields of aircraft to survive the collision. “Chicken cannons” are thus a convenient way to test the windshields. According to one version of an urban legend that developed around this practice, the British once constructed a new locomotive that would pull a train faster than any before it. Since they, too, were concerned about windshield safety, they borrowed a chicken cannon, set it to approximate the maximum speed of the locomotive, loaded in the dead chicken, and fired.
The bird went through the windshield, broke the engineer’s chair, and made a dent in the back
wall of the engine cab. As you might imagine, the train testers were quite surprised and troubled
with this result. The British asked for a review of the test, and it was done. The results? When the
test was repeated, said the report, it would be best to use a chicken that wasn’t frozen!
When it’s your family that’s at risk, it’s important not to fire any frozen chickens toward your
home. When parents ignore the Bible’s very clear instructions, very-real destruction is on its
way. The story of Eli and his sons is a story of the disaster that followed years of ignored
compromise. All three men died on the same day. When the father compromised on the clear
instructions of the Bible, he and his sons, their families, and their country, suffered terrible damage.
Galatians 6:7-9 says, “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.
The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who
sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. Let us not become weary in doing
good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” (Galatians 6:7-9) How
do we reap what we sow in parenting? In positive ways and in negative ways?
Praise God for the fruit that comes from following Him. Ask God to show you any ways you are
sowing actions that are learning toward destructive consequences.