We do the easy thing. As any good parent knows, in order to teach responsibility to your children, you have to do the following:
- Stop doing it for them
- Teach them how to do it
- Let them make mistakes
- If they won't listen, let them take the heat - allow them to face the consequences of their actions, but be there to pick them up and encourage them to try again
This can be a hard thing to do of course, because we don't like our children to suffer.
To show you what I mean, let us travel down to the Lambtons. This [fictitious] family lives in Shieldcastlehope and we join them as dad [Laurie] gets his 12 year old daughter Lucy ready for school one morning. There are uncomfortable echoes with someone not sitting too far from this computer...
Lucy finds it hard to get up in the morning. Really hard! She catches a bus to school. In order to catch the bus, she has to be ready for school and out of the door by 8.00am.
Laurie also leaves for work at about the same time. He can drive to work and drop her off at school, and occasionally does, but usually he gets the cheaper and more convenient Metro train.
The conversation goes something like this:
Lucy - are you ready, pet?
What are you doin'?
Brushing me hair - I just cannat get it right!
Have you seen the time?
Ha'way lass! If you're not out in five minutes, you'll miss your bus.
Why didn't you tell me before?
You have to keep an eye on the time yourself!
But I'm tired!
Aren't we all!
Oh dad! Can you give me a lift to school today? Pleeeeeeease!!! I slept in!
That's your problem! I woke you up in good time. You should have gett'n up earlier! You have a bus to catch!
But daaad! I'll miss the bus!
Your problem! You should have thought of that when you decided to lie in for 20 minutes!
But daaaaad! I'll be late again! You always used to give me a lift when I was late. What's changed?
I'm trying to teach you something this time, Lucy.
But daaaaaaaaad! I'll get detention... again! WHY can't you take me? The car's outside! Maaaaaam! Tell dad to take me to school today!
Well, Laurie - can't you take Lucy to school just this once, love?
I know it's hard, pet. But this is the only way she'll learn. We've warned her. Now she'll have to face the consequences. Mebbies this is the only way she'll get the message!
This scenario plays out up and down the land. And the essential message is that we can't keep doing things for people when it's not our responsibility to do it. Like dad, we need to begin to take away the supports and teach and equip people to do what they should have been doing all along... and stop doing it for them. And if that means there will be some mistakes along the way, then so be it.
I want to put it to you now that there is something that Christian families are not doing that they should. And in order to get scores of families doing the right things, we need a new type of church. One that is currently quite rare.