Friday, January 22, 2010

Teens At Heart?

I have been meditating a lot in Proverbs lately and I have been totally struck by the fact that when it comes to the wisdom that God imparted to Solomon, in order to instruct his own and future generations about money, possessions and stewardship, the “adults” who live in our country today remind me a lot of my teenagers! Me included!

Here’s an analogy some of you parents may be able to relate to. I am a mother of four and have presently survived raising 3 teenagers. Now, as any parent of teenagers can probably attest, despite my best efforts to guide them down right paths and help them avoid the pitfalls that I myself fell into in my past experience, despite all my warnings about the possible consequences, it appeared that my children didn’t seem to always believe what I was telling them. They always seemed to think the “truths” that I was imparting, didn’t really apply to their situations. My ideas were “old-fashioned,” and no longer relevant to their more modern lives. They believed they had figured out the “better way” and that all the consequences of making bad choices that my husband and I described for them, were either highly exaggerated or just plain paranoid. They tended to say things like, “that’s not going to happen to me,” or “I know what I’m doing, I can handle this!” I’m sure every parent can also testify to how that generally turns out. Let’s just say, I wish I had a dollar for every time I could have said “I told you so!”

I guess it’s all part of the maturation process. We all learn best through experience. What I have witnessed pretty consistently, however, is that teens can’t wait to receive the privileges of becoming an adult, but rarely want the responsibilities that are attached to them. Hmmmm, know any adults like that?

Now I will admit, we were fortunate with our kids; they typically didn’t desire extravagant things by some people’s standards. But, there were several occasions where we did need to firmly remind them that many of the things they possessed really didn’t belong to them. They were privileges, that we as parents had given them, because we loved them and felt they would be a blessing to them. Sometimes, we didn’t feel like we received the appropriate gratitude for those things. Sometimes our kids would be discontent and desire things that they saw other kids possessing. There were also times when the things we gave them weren’t cared for properly or lost and then there was the expectation that they should just be replaced with little thought or appreciation of the real cost. Here’s the one that really used to get me, we would give them a car to drive, but they would be all put out if we asked them to use the car to do an errand for us, or heaven forbid use the car for any purpose of our own! I remember asking one of my teenagers once to run their sibling to ball practice and having them ask if I would pay for their gas!! I simply replied, “OK, you pay me for the car, the taxes and the insurance and then sure, I’ll give you something toward the gas!” They needed a firm change of perspective!

Yeah, raising teenagers can be really exasperating at times and there were many times that I would find myself venting to the Lord about their behavior. It was often, in just those kinds of situations that God used my venting and complaining to convict ME about my own views and attitudes regarding the things that He had blessed ME with. It has become increasingly clear to me that God has a great deal of empathy for us as parents because He has experienced all of these same kinds of frustrations with His children (that would include US!) as well. Think about this with me for a moment…God is our heavenly father, so in that respect, do we ever act just like teenagers in regard to all that he has given us? Do we ever accept God’s blessings and forget that those blessings actually belong to him and he’s just letting us use them for a while? Do we tend to think that we have received our “stuff” as a result of our own effort and thus show little gratitude for it? Do we forget and think that it all belongs to us? Do we take care of it anyway we please and get upset if our Heavenly Father asks us to share the stuff with others or worse yet give it away to somebody else?!

Let’s work this analogy further…as Christians, do we often expect God to bless us and prosper as we claim scripture, proclaiming our rights to that, but disregard the responsibility part? Oh, and getting back to Solomon, are we obedient to His word, the very conditions for the blessing? Do we tithe? Do we avoid debt? Do we approach our work with excellence and diligence? Do we use our blessings to bless others?

Whoa! And I thought I had my hands full!

So far, it appears that my kids are progressing nicely in their understanding of what is a privilege and what is a responsibility and we continue to instruct them and model biblical financial stewardship. From time to time they have made mistakes and we have been there to help them pick up the pieces, even though they still had to withstand the consequences of their actions. The same is true for Our Heavenly Father, He is right there for us as well. He tells us in His word he will never leave us or forsake us. Although I bet from time to time, he too, would like to say, “See I told you so!”



Edie said...

I have a magnet on my refrigerator that says "Ask a teenager now while they still know everything." Somehow my daughter never saw the humor in that. :)

I don't always remember that it all belongs to Him but I'm learning. Good reminder Stacy.

Warren Baldwin said...

I like how you root the expectation for blessing in concrete obedience to God - avoiding debt, tithing, etc. We often want the fruit of faithfulness without giving proper attention to what faithfulness really is. Good wake up call to us adults!

I like Edie's comment, too. Recently I read that at some point our kids will stop doing what we say and will start doing what they see us do. Now that's a scary thought!

Mom said...

hmmmm.... maybe I don't need to write a blog - I'll just direct my daughter over here! :)

Mom said...

hmmmm.... maybe I don't need to write a blog - I'll just direct my daughter over here! :)

Kelly Combs said...

This post gets folks thinking, Stacy. I think we all have a sense of entitlement for the things we have. And the greatest gift we have - the sacrific of Jesus life for ours - we often take for granted.

Thanks for the prospective today!