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Summary: Parenting is not only hard work, it is heart work.

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Parenting is Heart Work

Deuteronomy 6:1-12

Rev. Brian Bill

5/18/08

I came across a job posting this week that I thought I’d pass along to see if there any takers.

JOB DESCRIPTION: Long-term team players needed for challenging, permanent work in an often chaotic environment. Candidates must possess excellent communication and organizational skills, and be willing to work variable hours, which will include evenings, weekends and frequent 24-hour shifts on call.

RESPONSIBILITIES: Must provide on-site training in basic life skills, in negotiating, conflict resolution, and crisis management. Must be able to think out of the box but not lose track of the box, because you most likely will need it for a school project. Must be able to drive motor vehicles safely under loud and adverse conditions while simultaneously practicing above-mentioned skills in conflict resolution. Must screen phone calls, maintain calendars and coordinate production of multiple homework projects. Must have ability to plan and organize social gatherings for clients of all ages and mental outlooks. Must be willing to be indispensable one minute and an embarrassment the next. Must always hope for the best but be prepared for the worst.

POSSIBILITY FOR ADVANCEMENT AND PROMOTION: Virtually none. Your job is to remain in the same position for years, without complaining, constantly retraining and updating your skills, so that those in your charge can ultimately surpass you.

PREVIOUS EXPERIENCE: None required, unfortunately. On-the-job training offered on a continually exhausting basis.

WAGES AND COMPENSATION: You pay them, offering frequent raises and bonuses. When you die, you give them whatever is left. The oddest thing about this reverse-salary scheme is that you actually enjoy it and wish you could only do more.

BENEFITS: While no paid holidays and no stock-options are offered, the job supplies limitless opportunities for personal growth and the ability to impact future generations.

Anyone want to apply for that kind of job? As we continue in our series called “Generation Next,” I want to propose that parenting is not only hard work, it is heart work.

Assumptions

I want to state some assumptions before we jump in.

1. If you’re married and don’t have kids, or they are no longer in the home, you are still a family. Incidentally, contrary to what the Supreme Court of California declared this week, the institution of marriage was designed by God to be one man and one woman legally married as husband and wife in a monogamous relationship for life.

2. If you are a single parent, you are a family.

3. If you are single, you are not second-class. Scripture celebrates singleness. 1 Corinthians 7:7-8: “I wish that all men were as I am. But each man has his own gift from God; one has this gift, another has that. Now to the unmarried and the widows I say: It is good for them to stay unmarried, as I am.”

4. Children are a gift from God, not a burden to bear. Psalm 127:3: “Sons are a heritage from the LORD, children a reward from him.

5. Parents are responsible for raising children who are spiritual champions. The home is the principal delivery system for the transmittal of God’s truth from generation to generation.

6. There is no fail-safe formula for parenting success. George Barna reports that fewer than one of every five parents of young children believe they are doing a good job of training their children morally and spiritually (“Revolutionary Parenting,” page 10).

7. Every parent can learn how to be a better parent. As a supplement to this series, Pastor Dick has put together a parenting seminar to be held on Saturday, May 31st. Please fill out the insert and plan to come.

8. I’m a parent in process not an authoritative expert. Just because I’m preaching this morning doesn’t mean that I have it all figured out. I’m a fellow learner with you.

9. God is looking for faithful families whose hearts are His.

Please turn in your Bibles to Deuteronomy 6. Let’s set the scene. The people of God have been wandering in the wilderness for 40 years and are now on the verge of finally entering the Promised Land. The generation that had disobeyed by not entering the land 40 years earlier has died and now “generation next” was just about there. Moses was not able to go with them so he wanted to make sure they knew their job. Actually, the whole book of Deuteronomy is a restating of the law – deutero means “to repeat” and nomos is the law. We could say that this book is Moses’ final message to the people and a turning point for them.

It’s interesting to me that Moses doesn’t give them instructions on farming or shepherding or economics or construction or even battle plans. What is first and foremost on his mind and on God’s heart is the family’s role in faith formation. God’s people are about to enter a pagan land, filled with over 40 different people groups and yet his focus is on the family. In that sense, isn’t the setting similar to our own situation? We are also strangers in a world that is hostile to God.

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