Training or Reacting?

In some ways I've begun to loathe Sunday mornings. The main reason is that it's become quite stressful to get the family out the door for church. I'm ashamed to admit (especially considering my position as Deacon of Children's Ministry at my church) that our Sunday church preparations have become far from Godly. Of course, it's not just Sunday, it's just that Sunday is the one day when we all have to get ready and out the door at basically the same time. The stress is concentrated and therefore our shortcomings amplified.

Two things brought me to this realization this morning. The first was hearing my persistent shouting at my girls to get with it and get ready. Get dressed, get your shoes on, go downstairs, get your hair brushed, eat, eat, eat! Something happened this morning that allowed me to sort of stand beside myself and watch and listen. Is this the picture I want in their mind as they remember me years from now? The angry, yelling father? Is this the example that I want to set for them? Look, kids, here's how you treat the people you love. If they don't do things right, or how you want, yell at them, berate them until they submit. The thought of it makes me sick. I have been trying, I thought, over the past months to re-focus my energies on teaching them respect rather than just obedience. Isn't this what God wants of us? I mean if you have the broader idea of respect on straight, obedience will come naturally out of it. Yet there I was, belittling and berating them, no respect in my voice, only frustration and anger. I could see the hurt in their faces, and it hit me like a dagger in the heart.

My wife too, was frustrated with this morning. Her frustration was with their lack of respect for us, as seen in their lack of obedience. It wasn't just this morning, it's been an ongoing problem, they just don't seem to care about what we say. A total lack of respect for authority which will hurt them in other areas of life if not checked. Although my reaction to it was pathetic, she was right. Their utter disregard for our instructions was alarming and discouraging. And then she said something that lit a light bulb in my head. She said, "We are not training them, we are reacting to them."

I thought about that all day long. She was absolutely right, but I didn't know what to do with it, and I still don't. Yet I'm convinced that this is where the solution will be found. As I think about it, I see a basic difference. Training is outward focused, concerned with them, their growth and well being. Reaction it born out of selfishness. They are getting in the way of my plans, inconveniencing me, making me look bad. If I am focused on me, I will react. If I am focused on them, I will train.

Like I said, I don't know what exactly, practically, to do with this, but the realization alone is a start. Maria and I have committed tonight to pray for wisdom and insight into making this change in our hearts and mindset. We also plan on getting advice from an older couple in the church who, like us, have 3 daughters. Their girls are wonderful grown women, all out of college, which gives me great confidence that they will be able to help us.

Any insight anyone else has would be welcome too.

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