Moments in the life of a Pastor

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18 Parents of Prodigals – Part 2

Luke 15:11-24

11 Jesus continued: “There was a man who had two sons. 12 The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided his property between them. 13 “Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living. 14 After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. 15 So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. 16 He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything. 17 “When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! 18 I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants.’ 20 So he got up and went to his father. “But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him. 21 “The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ 22 “But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. 23 Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. 24 For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.

Not only do we need to focus on the Father instead of the family failure and also be willing to let our kids go but third we need to:

  1. Let them make mistakes

Verse says 13 goes on to say “he squandered his wealth in wild living” the son took his father’s fortune and flushed it down the drain. He wasted all of his wealth on wild worldly living. At first everything was great because not only did he have the freedom to live how he wanted but he also had the finances to do it. He indulges in everything, especially those things that were forbidden at home on the farm. And while he believed that he was living the life the reality was that he was really living the lie. The lure of temptation that promises pleasure yet pays us in pain. Sin always comes with a high price tag, it strips us and robs us of riches only to leave us ruined. Here was a son who rejected his father’s values through riotous living and experienced the results of rebellion, he ended up wasting his wealth. It’s not long before the party turns into the pigpen. Sin is fun for a season but sooner or later we suffer from its sickness. You see rebellion always results in ruin. Often young people are not to wise when it comes to wealth, they tend to waste it. I’m sure that the father was well aware of this so why didn’t he parent and prevent the problem? Because the father knew that there are some things we can only learn through personal pain. One of the results of a rebellious heart is that it makes us stubborn. Not only does it cause us to have hard hearts but also hard heads. Sometimes we need to learn life’s lessons the hard way and stubborn hearts need a lesson they can only learn in the school of hard knocks. There are some things you can’t learn in a classroom, like convictions, they come from life not from a lecture. It’s risky but so is pampering and protecting a prodigal. The Good News Translation puts Proverbs 20:30 this way, “Sometimes it takes a painful experience to make us change our ways.” Sometimes it takes pain to correct a prodigal. As parents we don’t want our kids to experience pain so we often intervene and try to prevent the problem only to make it worse down the road. As parents we want things to be better for our children than we had it, but today I believe that instead of bettering and blessing our kids we are bankrupting them. Giving them everything they want is not enriching their lives its eroding their lives because it’s leads to an entitlement mentality. Maybe the way to do more for our children is to actually do less for them and make them do more for them themselves. We will never be able to let them go if we don’t let them grow, which means letting them grow up and sometimes that comes through letting them make mistakes. If we are always taking responsibility for our children we take it away from them and sooner or later they resent it. Many parents act as if their kids are perfect, so when they get in trouble it’s the teacher’s fault, when they sin its societies fault. We end up blaming everyone else instead of teaching our children to take personal responsibility. Instead of holding them accountable we end up holding everyone else hostage to their temper tantrums and tirades. When we blame everyone else instead of raising responsible young adults we end up raising babies in big bodies that act more like spoiled brats. Refusing to let our children take personal responsibility leads to rebellion and rebellion always leads to ruin. While we may want to believe that babying our kids will somehow better them the truth is that instead of blessing them we will end up burning them. If we don’t let our kids make mistakes and we are always blaming others and bailing them out we end up setting them up for future failure. We end up creating a false reality guaranteed to generate not only failure but someday an even bigger fall. Just like falsely propping up an economy by printing more money in an effort to pretend that everything is fine and avoid dealing with the problem we end up creating a disaster. Sooner or later things will crash and when they do we will have actually created a bigger mess. Many parents don’t let their kids make mistakes because they want others to see them as perfect because for them parenting has become more about how they are perceived by people. They have let the focus of their parenting become about self instead of serving. They are afraid of what everyone else will think of them if their kids make a mistake. But mistakes are how we learn, look toddlers trip and fall down a lot trying to learn to walk, if we are always propping and holding them up they will always need us to and they will never learn to walk on their own. What they need is for us to let them fall on their butt but continue to encourage them to get up and walk. When we refuse to let our kids make mistakes we end up raising them in a bubble instead of the bible. Now understand that parenting is hard especially when it comes to prodigals and unfortunately today instead of being praying parents we have become pointing parents. Pointing out the failures of others because in a sick and twisted way it somehow makes us feel better about our failures and insecurities. It’s the mess up mentality that says compared to so-and- so, my kids are pretty good. Its judging based on the jones, which leads to grading on a curve instead of God’s Word. We end up teaching our kids to judge their success based on others failure, which leads to a false sense of security. Parenting is not about your kids liking us it’s about loving them. And sometimes love means letting them make mistakes. It’s not about how people perceive you it’s about preparing your kids for real life. Don’t be afraid to let your kids make mistakes because the truth is we learn more from our failures and mistakes than we do our successes. Look the father in the story was loving and yet he let his son blow it bad, even though it broke his heart. It may seem painful and not very parental to let your kids make mistakes but in the long run you will be doing them a favor. What about you are you parenting or pampering, are there areas where you are making excuses for your kids and trying to bail them out instead of letting them make mistakes?