The Pillars of Community XVIII: Families in Community
May 10, 2009
· Prov 31,
· Sermons: 70, (HP 2006 Showing), 59
· Grudem & Piper, notes
Scripture reading: Titus 2:1-8
Happy Mother’s Day!
The reason I am so into community is not because I read some book and found out it was important, but because my life has been and is continuing to be transformed by it, even before I knew it was called community.
I had awesome parents growing up, and one of the best things they did for us was being part of a community, because that meant we weren’t just raised by mom and dad, our lives were enriched by the members of the community.
· Diane taught me proper English and to value education.
· The Kinsmans taught me to share.
· Bob Kinsman demonstrated healthy adult male friendships.
And even more important was how the community poured into my parents in ways we didn’t see, and they poured into the lives of my friends in way I never saw.
My desire is to encourage us as a community to support, encourage, and assist our families, especially the mothers.
Thank you for the mothers, bless them. Be with those for whom Mother’s Day is painful. Show all of us (married, single, young, old) how to help and support each other in raising these kids.
Does it take a village?
First, we have to be clear that the responsibility for raising children belongs to parents (whether birth parents or adoptive), not the government, not the church, not the community.
· The biggest error in America is abdication (ask a teacher).
Parents by far have the most influence in developing their children’s values and beliefs.
More important than their values, parents shape a child’s value, whether or not they believe that they are innately valuable and worthy, has the most profound effect on them.
· The church community’s highest responsibility is to support and assist the parent in their God-given role.
Don’t go it alone
At the same, we would be literally negligent to go to the other extreme and not get help from the community. Let’s face it, we don’t instinctively know everything about parenting.
Q Do you remember that moment that you first thought “What the heck am I doing? Who is the idiot who let us have a kid?”
You feel guilty taking the kid out of the hospital, like someone should stop you, “Can I see your parenting license?”
The pressure is enormous, and the fear of permanently damaging these precious little ones. Parenting is a little like getting married – if you are not scared to death, you are not ready.
· Knowing that we are not alone, that we have a community to help makes it a little less scary.
I remember the relief I felt the first time Grace brought home her CC lesson and told me about how Moses saw a burning bush, talked to Ro, turned into a snake, died, then came back to life.
· I am happy knowing that my children are learning from others.
· I count it as one of my highest privileges that I am impacting my friend’s children.
But this is also humbling and scary:
Mark 9:42 NIV And if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to be thrown into the sea with a large millstone tied around his neck.
Jesus not talking specifically to parents here if our actions cause our children to turn from God, we are in serious trouble.
· As church we have a huge responsibility to protect the children from predators.
· As individuals we have to show God’s love and CHARACTER.
Ä This double pronged attack of supporting the parents (focus on mothers) and helping the children is the focus of the sermon.
Call to mentor
The first, and most important role of the community is supporting mothers (Keep open to this):
Titus 2:3 3 Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good.
Mentorship is part of God’s design for supporting and training mothers – it’s his expectation, right next to not being a drunk.
There are a couple of significant things here:
1. The vital contribution of “older women.”
· It’s funny the twist of our culture where that is a negative things to say, but the Bible values age and wisdom.
Especially in the ancient culture, as children grew up, older women could feel they had little to contribute, bringing feelings of uselessness, loneliness, low self-esteem, and pity.
God’s plan is to “recycle” that hard-won experience. Rather than begin shuffled away, God desires there to be a seamless link from generation to generation, learning from each other.
The problem is that between our culture’s prejudice against age and the arrogance of youth, there can be a reluctance share.
· One woman I talked to (who is full of wisdom) wondered if she had anything to offer because of how much has changed.
I think that it now becomes our responsibility (as the younger) to approach the older. While the specifics may be changing, there is much wisdom and principles to be gained.
· This is to all of us, not just mothers. I am learning my need for sage advice.
2. The value of learning by example, not teaching.
I can say a lot of stuff, but really the best way you are going to grow is having someone, in community, walk along side you, working it out in practice.
· This is not necessarily just older women, but the more experienced helping the less.
· I felt pride hearing a young husband crediting my mom with saving his marriage by encouraging his wife.
I think that at almost any stage, we should have people we are mentoring and being mentored.
How to mentor
Because mentoring is a little bit of a lost art, I think it is good to think about how we mentor:
1. Encouragement: Parenting can be very discouraging, and it becomes so easy to focus on the bad.
Q Have you ever thought that your child was demon-possessed, only to have a friend encourage you with a compliment?
· Jewel: “Encouragement comes from someone who has a better perspective from where they are...”
Whether formal mentorship relationship or a casual comment over coffee before service, all moms can use encouragement from time to time, to be reminded they are not bad parents, their kids are not Hitler’s in training, and “this too shall pass.”
2. Support: Offering to help out in practical ways, from cleaning, to child care, to praying. We all get to take turns carrying each other.
· Sometimes this just means being aware, and opening a door carrying the potluck dish, or intercepting an escaping child.
3. Teaching and Correction: Showing a better way through words and actions.
This is one that requires caution because unsolicited advice is seldom well-received. I did an entire sermon on “truth telling in community,” but the one main point is the importance of getting permission to speak into another’s life.
· Whether we are making mistakes, or simply need to hear another perspective, all parents occasionally need some input.
My mom’s mom wasn’t an affectionate person and didn’t show that she enjoyed her kids. Mom learned that from her pastor’s wife.
Or sometimes it is a different perspective on the kids: You might be a little too close to a situation. Michel told me that it was another friend that suggested that Christopher might be autistic. That takes guts (and relationship) to say.
· Remember, your responsibility ends at the sharing and praying, after that, it’s their responsibility, ignore or accept.
4. What it is not (adapted from Jewel Wheeler):
· When someone is ready with advice before listening.
· When someone only focuses on what I’m doing wrong with the attitude that they are doing everything right.
· When someone puts down my husband or my kids.
· When someone comes talks to me or others about my child when they are annoyed with them.
· When someone says when my child needs to be spanked.
· When criticism is the main objective.
· When my needs as a mother are ignored.
· When my child’s needs are ignored.
· When people criticize decisions we’ve made: birth control, shots, home schooling, (things Christians disagree on).
In our passage, Paul gives a list of what he wants taught. This is not an exhaustive list, but gives some key points:
NIV Titus 2:4 Then they can train the younger women to love their husbands and children, 5 to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God.
Love their husbands and children
This was especially important in a culture where women did not choose their husbands and children were not valued. The selfless love had to be shown, both affection and practical habits.
· Knowing how to love in ways they receive takes experience!
Self-controlled and pure
· This means to be disciplined, and when combined with “pure” probably means “modest.”
In a culture that was as sexually charged as ours, the young women needed to be taught how to be pure and completely and whole-heartedly faithful to their husbands.
· Women are the best to teach women about modesty and purity.
· This is equally true of married and unmarried women.
Busy at home
In the ancient world the wife was in charge of the house, it was her kingdom. This is similar to today, but the difference is that it was held in high esteem.
· The older women were to train the young in effective and efficient household management.
This does not mean “barefoot and pregnant” and that women are not allowed to work outside of the house (cf. Proverbs 31), but that their first responsibility.
· Christian husbands and churches alike need to affirm and honor the high calling of managing the home.
· Husband: Give kudos, you get them at work.
Means treating those in the home with kindness, which is difficult when given all the responsibility of running the home, especially when the husband makes that job harder!
· It can much easier to be kind to those outside the house!
to be subject to their husbands
Not spending too long on this (it’s not main point), but it’s unpopular, because it’s so misused and misunderstood. I think the feminist movement was an overreaction to an abuse by men.
First, in the Greek, Paul makes it clear that a wife is be subject to her husband, not men in general.
Second, in Paul’s letters he is clear that women are in no way inferior to men:
NIV Galatians 3:28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
So it is not about value, but about function, and even that function can change according to the situation, for the Bible also calls us to “be subject to each other” (Eph 5:21).
In God’s system, there are roles that allow all of us to function to fullness of who he made us to be, and even Christ himself is subject to the Father, without being any lesser:
1 Corinthians 11:3 3 Now I want you to realize that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is man, and the head of Christ is God.
· Within the Trinity there is an eternal hierarchy and submission even as there is fully equality.
The Biblical view of marriage is that the husband serves his wife through sacrificial leadership, even as Christ served us, and that wives submit to their husband in full equality, even as Christ submits to God.
· But because of sin on both sides this has been corrupted into dominance and defiance, both of which are ungodly.
There plenty of unhealthy examples of submission: the dominated wife on one side and the defiant one on the other. Women need an example of what true submission looks like. Similarly, men need and example of Biblical sacrificial love.
Finally, when all this is working as it should, God will be glorified as the world sees a healthily, loving family, which is becoming rarer!
Suffer the children
The second role the community has in how we interact with the kids of the community. As I said at the outset, I love that my kids have relationships with many of you.
Michel Jevons: “I believe that children need relationships with adults – loosely supervised, authentic opportunities to relate with safe, healthy adults.”
I completely agree! We’re raising our children to become adults and the best place they learn that is interacting with adults.
But there is a fundamental principle required for us as the community if we are to helping these kids grow up:
We must value, honor, respect, and love these kids. If we think of them as nuisances or distractions, we won’t be able bring change, because they can tell when they are respected.
This is the attitude Jesus modeled:
Mark 10:13-16 13 ¶ People were bringing little children to Jesus to have him touch them, but the disciples rebuked them. 14 When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. 15 I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” 16 And he took the children in his arms, put his hands on them and blessed them.
Q Who are you more like, the disciples or Jesus?
After service is prime “valuing kids” time:
· Take the time to engage these kids, kneel down to talk to them, be interested in their lives.
Don’t knock them down or put them in their place, help them feel bigger. If we encourage them and treat them as little adults, they will act like it.
· Encourage them to obey their parents.
· If a mom or dad is running solo, and they know and trust you, help them out, especially single moms.
These are all ways that all of us can help out. Furthermore, we may develop closer relationship with certain kids. This requires that the parents know and trust you, being given “permission.”
· Some of you (but not all!) know that you have permission to discipline my daughters.
· Some of you are friends with Laura and are able to speak into her life in a way I can’t.
Finally, teaching Sunday School is a vital way that many of us can make profound, lasting impact.
· The relationships you form now may last a lifetime!
Q & A
Thank you for this community. Help us support and honor our moms, and be part of these kids life, that a decade from now we will see you work in their lives.