Broken Home is a House Divided

When a parent leaves the marriage the home is broken. At the same time the house is divided. I never realised that until a discussion I had recently with a woman who knew this all too well from personal experience.

The Single Mum

A single mother who had raised her children without the husband’s input for many years recently told me about a conversation she had with one of her children. She had faithfully brought her children up to a set of values which she believed were right. She taught her children to love their daddy but not to follow his inappropriate behaviours. In her mind she had brought them up the “right way”.

Because of her diligent instruction to her children and their choices to follow her wisdom she felt confident that she had protected her children from the wrong influence of her husband’s values. A comment from one of her children showed her otherwise.

A House Divided

As this single mum raised her children in a happy family unit for many years she came to see that the family was united. She also saw that she had given her children clear guidance, leading them to her set of values as the right way for their lives.

In discussion with one of her children she remarked about what she had sought to achieve and she was surprised by the child’s response.

Her child pointed out to her that all their lives the children felt that there were two choices before them, not one. While the mother felt she had created a house in which there was only one value being upheld, the children grew up with a different reality. For them the house was divided.

Two Paths To Choose

Each of the children well knew the values taught them by their mum. They enjoyed their upbringing and the home she had made safe and productive for them. But they were also painfully aware of their dad’s choices and values.

Even though those values were not a part of their family home with their mum, those values were none-the-less part of their life.

Mum had clearly made her choice. She stuck by her values and her commitments and invested all her energies into making up for the father’s abandonment of the children and the marriage. She had successfully excluded the dad’s values from the day to day life within the home. But those values still resonated in the children’s hearts.

Each child knew that they had two heritages to draw from. They had their mother’s values inculcated within them. But they also had direct lineage to a dad who lived by other values. Each child, therefore, lived with the reality that they had two paths to choose between.

Parents Can’t Make the Choice

Sadly, each individual must make their own choices. Parents can’t make the choices for their children. Parents can guide, instruct and inspire their children, but each child must take personal responsibility for what they do in response to the guidance and input given.

This godly mum had done all in her power to give her children the best possible preparation for right choices. But she could not exclude the influence of wrong choices from those children, since they had a direct link to other values.

Unseen Division

The mum realised that, while she was not living with a divided home or a divided heart, her children had to struggle with an unseen division. They were the product of both the mum and the dad and had direct lineage to both the paths being modelled for them. The mum did not live with division, but her children did.

While the mum took it for granted that the children would make the right choices, by virtue of their upbringing, she did not account for the personal reality of division which each child struggled with. While the domestic home was united as mother and children, the reality of a house divided could not be removed.

The Two Parent Home

The two parent home has an incredible advantage over the single mum or single dad home. Where one of the parents has chosen to abandon the home, for whatever reason, the home is divided. But where both husband and wife live together and cooperate together there is a quality of unity that is invaluable.

Children growing in a two parent home still have to make their own choices. But they do not grow up with the ever present reality of division and alternative paths to choose from. Godly parents in a strong, healthy family are able to build levels of security and maturity into their children, without the presence of a divided heart from a divided home.

All Is Not Lost

Our natural upbringing does not make us. We make choices and set the course for our life, despite the other influences that impact us. So, all is not lost in a broken home or divided home context.

God gives us a new heart when we give ourselves to Him. Even our divided heart can be transformed and healed by our relationship with the Living God.

However it is wise to be aware of what you are dealing with and to give your children the best help you can to succeed in life. That, of course, is more than a stable home with a strong marriage. The best you can give them is an intimate, faith-filled relationship with God as their Father, through faith in Jesus Christ as their Saviour and Lord.

The Economic Man

A man recently told me how he struggles to take the lead in his home because his wife out-earns him. His situation brought to focus the cherished idea that men have authority only because they are the bread-winner. This is a false notion and needs to be dealt with in order to find blessing in the home.

The problem we have in our society is that there are two prevailing mindsets we can draw from. Well, actually there is only one made accessible to most people, and that’s the wrong one. However, for Bible believing Christians there are certainly two mindsets which pull at our consciousness.

One mindset is the prevailing naturalistic view of the world. People who deny God’s place in the universe see everything as a product of naturalistic processes. They believe the world evolved by natural processes. They believe that societies evolved and that marriage is a product of people’s attempts to survive their circumstances.

From a naturalistic point of view it could be suggested that male leadership in the home evolved due to man’s greater capacity to guarantee the safety of the family, through brute strength and his greater capacity to bring provision to the home. That idea has been sown around western society to the point that many people simply assume it is gospel truth.

The other mindset is given to us in the Bible. It is a mindset based on God as our creator and the architect of our whole life experience.

Naturalistic thinking is mono-dimensional. It can only understand things from the human perspective. It is also without moral protection. Since we live in a moral universe influenced by godly and ungodly forces, those who choose not to seek godly influence will unwittingly come under ungodly influence. Ungodly forces are intent on deception and slavery for mankind, keeping people away from truth that sets them free. The Apostle James identified the way these two forces impact the mind of man when he discussed ‘wisdom’.

“This wisdom does not descend from above, but is earthly, sensual and devilish.” James 3:15

James exposes here that what stacks up as pretty good human, materialistic wisdom will actually have an ungodly source. It will be a limited perspective, from man’s point of view, but with a barb in the tail.

The naturalistic point of view lacks the profound depth and breadth available to us as we listen to what God is saying. The godly, Biblical mindset is rich with grace and positive potential.

Now, back to the Economic Man. The naturalistic, ungodly perspective suggests that a man’s only real value in a home is his economic contribution. His right to lead the home and his value to the other family members is directly linked to his economic worth.

If the wife and children out-earn him, and out-perform him in many ways, then this naturalistic man has to accept his loss of worth. He is demeaned by their success and relegated to some lesser place, unless he can stand tall in their presence and command respect because of his performance.

True manhood has nothing to do with economic contribution. It has nothing to do with physical strength, force of will, ability to protect and defend, or any other masculine quality. True manhood is simply being the man that God created the bloke to be. And the authority which a true man holds comes from God, not from the man himself.

The man is the head of the home, not because of his economic power, but because that is God’s design. God chose the man to carry the responsibility. That is why the universal expression of marriage has the man carrying the responsibility. God created it so and made it natural and logical to be so. Men did not gain headship by a process of evolution, or by swinging a big club. They were given it by God.

A man could be quadriplegic, old, weak, bald, humourless, or any of a myriad un-masculine qualities, and still be the head of his home and the leader of his family.

When men walk away from God they end up reduced to the level of their economic performance. A form of economic rationalism is exerted over their existence. They must perform or be displaced.

When men walk with God they are elevated to the place of leadership and responsibility which God gives them. They don’t have to prove a thing. They can happily have their wife and children out-perform them. They can celebrate the success of their descendents. They can rejoice in their wife’s achievements. They are not threatened by those things nor displaced by them.

It is time to dispense with the economic man. That is an unworthy model of manhood. It is time to embrace true manhood, found in God’s calling, not in human definition.

If you would like to dig into the subject of manhood take a look at my book, Manhood Horizons. Go to: http://familyhorizons.net/html/manhood.html

Designer Parenting

Before you buy your child designer shoes, brand-name outfits and custom built toys, be sure to get them plenty of Designer Parenting. Your child deserves the best, and you are the most ideal person to give them the personalised, customised, purpose-built parenting that money can’t buy.

How do you do it? I’m glad you asked.

First step is to make it your aim to be a “professional parent”. Top designers are experts in their field and they study their craft. You too can become a professional in the arena of parenting by studying what God has to say about parenting. Dare I suggest that you read my book, “Parenting Horizons” as a worthy start?

This first step will build into your thinking the principles that apply to all effective parenting. You will discover the appropriate wisdom for guiding your child toward the outcome that a professional parent expects.

The next step is to realise the uniqueness of your child. Every family with multiple children demonstrates the uniqueness of each child. Despite the similarities in their upbringing children in the same family express diversity of personality, interests, talents and problems.

Now, how do you know what your child is like? The Bible has an answer to that.

“Even a child is known by his doings, whether his work is pure, and whether it is right.” Proverbs 20:11

As you observe your child and what he or she does you will be given insights into their personality, strengths and weaknesses. Designer Parenting involves you being attentive to the design requirements your child’s particular personality suggests.

For example, a child who tends to be bossy will have special design requirements in the parenting program you apply to their life. A child who is insecure will have other unique needs. A child who tends toward being angry and unforgiving needs special input to ensure they become free from those particular qualities.

Designer Parenting is like a customised fitness program designed for your particular needs. Such a fitness program takes into account the strengths and weaknesses of your physical frame as well as your general level of fitness and health. You cannot provide your child with Designer Parenting if you do not properly assess what their special design requirements are.

One of the issues I cover in “Parenting Horizons” is that the ‘Punishment Must Fit the Crime’. What that refers to is that your response to wrong behaviour from your child must be designed to make a change in their behaviour. If it makes a change then it ‘fits’ the crime. If it doesn’t make a change then it is the wrong fit.

If, for example, you have a standard response to your child’s wrong behaviour and that response does not make any difference, then the punishment does not fit the crime. Punishment fits the crime when it effectively changes the behaviour of the child.

Designer Parenting is attentive to how the child responds to the discipline regime which is applied to their life. The parent’s response needs to be measured to the appropriate level for the child and the child’s response to that input.

Let me summarise what I have said. You owe it to your child to be a professional parent who creates a designer parenting program for them specifically. Designer Parenting for each of your children will take into account who they are and what special needs they have in their personality. It will also be attentive to how the child responds to the training and discipline you provide.

A professional parent is ever ready to modify their responses to each child, so the appropriate ministry, discipline, encouragement, relationship time, and so on, are poured into the life of each one. Designer Parenting is an exciting interaction between parents and children that keeps the relationship and the process fresh and dynamic. It brings wonderful rewards and produces godly children.

I wish for your children that they have professional parents who provide them with the wonderful Designer Parenting that God plans for them, through you.

Christ in You the Hope of Manhood (and Womanhood)

One of the challenges men face in entering into their true calling as ‘men’ is to have some level of modelling or mentoring to influence them. I have even coined the term ‘MEN-toring’ in some of my Manhood events. There is real need for leadership in the area of manhood.

However, I find a Bible truth to be very encouraging on this issue. It is the truth that Christ lives within us. The Apostle Paul spoke much about the “in Christ” relationship and he also uses the term ‘Christ in you’. He speaks of ‘Christ in you, the hope of glory’, Colossians 1:27. (see also Romans 8:10). Jesus Christ talked about coming into the believer and making his home there (John 14:23).

Now, just consider that for a moment. Jesus Christ will come inside a person and live there. Jesus Christ will be “in you”. How does that affect a man’s ability to be a true man? If the greatest man that ever lived were living inside you, you would have a good chance of being a better man! If the one by whom all men are measured were to come and live within you, then you would have to be a better man for such an experience!

While Paul says that Christ in you is the “hope of glory”, for men it must also be wonderfully true that Christ in you is the “hope of manhood”. Christian men have incredible advantage in discovering the true meaning of manhood – by being occupied by the perfect man, the man, Christ Jesus.

Jesus Christ is a Real Man – so He can empower me to be a Real Man! Praise God for that. As we submit to His Lordship and rule over our lives, each man is able to access levels of authority, boldness, victory, destiny and purpose that they would not find any other way.

Now, that does not leave the women out. God created womanhood to be directed by godly manhood. A daughter is to be directed by her godly dad and a wife by her godly husband. Jesus Christ is the perfect husband. Every Christian woman, having Christ living within her, has access to the most wonderful ‘husband’ in all the universe. The impact of having internal access to such a holy, loving and powerful input for her womanhood must be truly amazing in her ability to be the kind of woman she would never otherwise be.

When a woman has the Real Man, Christ Jesus, living within her, she is able to access levels of her womanhood that others will never know. When a man has the Real Man, Christ Jesus, living within him he will is able to discover levels of his manhood that were previously unreachable.

Christ in you – the hope of your Manhood and Womanhood. 

Woman of Faith

I was blessed this week by an email from one of my team sharing about her challenges as a wife. She prompted me to realise that women have a possible advantage when it comes to faith. To help you appreciate what I am perceiving let me share with you an observation out of my family teaching.

Children are required to obey their parents. The Bible reveals that this is an act of faith. Children are instructed in Colossians 3:20 to obey their parents. In the same sentence Paul points out that this is “well pleasing” to the Lord. “Children, obey your parents in all things: for this is well pleasing to the Lord.” That doesn’t directly say anything about ‘faith’, except when you correlate that with Hebrews 11:6, which says that “without faith it is impossible to please God”. If children’s obedience is ‘well pleasing’ and only faith can ‘please’ God, then children’s obedience is an act of faith.

Faith kicks in when a child has to suppress their own idea of what is good for them, to comply with the requirements of their parents. Many a child has been afraid of missing out, being looked down on by others, or otherwise suffering because their parents make decisions which they would like to change. For a child to happily honour and obey his or her parents in the face of those challenges the child needs to be trusting that God has everything under control.

Similarly, everyone who is under authority must exercise that same kind of faith. This includes wives. So wives are often more in a position of conscious faith than their husbands might be. This is compounded for the men because men are more likely to be in the workforce seeing a direct correlation between their effort and their income. This can block their awareness of God’s provision, and prompt them to think of themselves as the ‘provider’. A wife who is reliant on her husband’s endeavours and the favours he bestows on her must turn to God and look to God’s grace to see her needs and wishes met. Herein is the seed-bed of the ‘woman of faith’.

A dependent wife should find it easier to be a woman of faith. It should be easy for her to take a faith posture. Note, however, that a grasping woman, who wrests control from her husband or who manipulates him to get her way, has missed the special faith posture which other women have. A grasping woman fails to be moving in faith and so fails to please God.

There are many examples of godly women who have been strong in faith, despite their vulnerability, while their husbands have found it hard to trust God. Even when a husband does well financially he can simply lift his expectations, and hoard what he has, rather than trusting God to bless him. This is not to say that all dependent wives are women of faith or that all working men are devoid of faith. But I do recognise that a woman of faith is a precious thing and that the limitation which some women struggle with is seen by others as an advantage – helping them stay reliant on God.

I’ve just remembered a time when I was the man of unbelief and needed my wife to prompt me out of my lack of faith. I will share that incident with you in a future post. I have been blessed over the years by having a woman of faith in my wife, Susan. I commend each woman, child and youth reading this to not resent their place of dependence but to see the advantage it offers them to be a person of faith.