When my kids were preschoolers something happened to me that forced me to take a crash course in parenting. I was given 220 children, ages 4 – 18 to practice parenting on.
Well, that’s not exactly how they worded it.
I was on a church staff and the elders came to me. “We have an unchristian school in a Christian school. We want you to be the school Principal and change that.”
I was only 25 years old. Fresh out of college after 4 years in the US Navy. My own children were preschoolers. My new bachelors degree was in business. I had no idea how to run a school let alone help a failing one recover. This was totally over my head. What could I say?
“Sure, why not?”
That began a desperate search to discover all I could about training godly children. I asked a lot of questions, prayed a lot, read a lot, listened a lot, lost a lot of sleep and scoured the Bible for principles. Then I practiced what I learned on my school’s kids.
Within four years the school was transformed.
But I was the one really transformed. It was like getting a PhD in Parenting.
As my own kids grew I applied the same principles to training them. And, thus far it’s worked.
I have three godly children who married amazing spouses who also love the Lord.
I certainly don’t have it all figured out but being given 220 practice kids and then raising my own three did teach me a few things – things I want to pass on to you.
Plus, as a grandparent and now having lived over 60 years, I’ve had the privilege of watching other parents raise their children and see the fruit of their parenting – some good and some sad. So I don’t speak from theory. I’ll share observations pulled from actual experience in the laboratory of life.
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Most of us don’t have the luxury of having a school full of kids to practice on.
Nor the longevity to see the end result of various methods of parenting.
We only get one chance so we’ve got to get it right.
My experience gave me a running start.
I want to give you a running start, too.
So hopefully you can stay a step or two ahead of your kids.
Meet the Family
In 1975 I married the most beautiful woman I have ever known. Jana loved music and she loved God. She wasn’t so sure about loving me but I convinced her to give it a go and now, 40 years later, we have a wonderful life, three incredible children who all married wonderful spouses, two awesome granddaughters and another grandchild on the way.
I think it is safe to say I grew on her and we enjoy a love fueled by shared good times, hard times, challenges and blessings. I thought I loved her when we married but the experiences of life – especially the rough ones – have so deepened our relationship that I now realize I didn’t even understand what that four letter word – love – meant back when I first said, “I do.
Jana deserves much of the credit for the three godly children we raised. She is a woman of amazing flexibility and godly character. While I was the main teacher and disciplinarian, she is the one who created a home environment that caused our kids to know they were unconditionally loved. The best seed can’t grow in bad soil. The stable and loving home environment she created produced fertile soil in the hearts of our children which caused my efforts to produce good fruit.
As mentioned above, we have three super children. Jonathan, the youngest, is usually listed last (a common problem for last borns) so just for a switch I’ll give him lead billing. Jonathan is an author, blogger, the founder of Sunday Magazine www.sundaymag.tv, creator and curator for www.churchstagedesignideas.com and definitely is the creative one in our family. I used to hold that title but he left me in the dust many years ago.
He married a precious girl, Caro Mestas Nunez, and it is a joy to have her as part of our family and to be part of her wonderful family as well. Caro’s family is from Argentina and she is studying to be a physical therapist.
Charis (poor middle child never gets top billing) loves God and loves the great guy she married. I wasn’t sure guys like this still existed so I am glad she found one of the last ones. Mike loves God, was a pilot in the Air Force but now works as a tech guy with Northrop Grumman. He was trained well by his parents on how to treat a woman with dignity and respect. As I said, not many of his kind around any more. We are honored to have him as our son-in-law and are especially pleased they gave us our first grandchildren – Adiya Grace (AHH-dee-uh) and Aniah Faith. Woo-Hoo! Charis is quite a dichotomy – on the one hand she is a graceful dancer and on the other hand she has taught kick boxing. She has also done missions work in China, Guatemala and taught school for a year on the Pacific Island of Saipan. It is delightful to watch her as a wife and mother. As with everything she attempts, she is doing a fantastic job at both.
Joel is also an author, blogger, gifted leader and passionate about his walk with God. His wife, Emily, is a precious gift to him and to our family. She has an ability to lovingly calm and direct Joel’s abundant fervor without quenching his passion. After serving as missionaries in Southern Mexico and Cusco, Peru they are back in the US to develop Summit Leaders. Through activities such as rappelling off the Great Wall of China, camping in Mayan jungles, hiking the Incan Trail or climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro Summit Leaders provides a leadership training experience unlike any other. Emily is also a flight attendant with United Airlines and is expecting to deliver our third grandchild in August.
Finally, for those who care about such things:
I hold a BBA in Management, an MS in Educational Administration and lack only the dissertation to earn a PhD in Pastoral Ministry.
I authored a book entitled “Perfected Praise” published by Destiny Image Publishers and have had numerous articles published on various ministry topics.
I served as an associate pastor 10 years, led a 24 hour phone counseling center 2 years, school principal 6 years, church planter 4 years, senior pastor 12 years, missionary in Guatemala 6 years and 20 years ago founded a missionary agency which I still lead. Commission To Every Nation currently has offices in the US and Canada and supports over 650 missionaries in 58 nations.
(For you mathematicians, obviously some of these ministries overlap or I would be around 160 years old.)
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