Parenting, Planning and Parables
by Cheri Cowell
“After you cross the Jordan River, go to Mount Ebal. Set up large slabs of stone, then cover them with white plaster and write on them a copy of these laws” (Deuteronomy 27:4 CEV)
In a chaotic world hobbled by a coarsened culture, it is more important than ever to teach our children godly decision-making skills. And because our children are surrounded with the evidence of poor choices, it becomes crucial for parents to model good decision-making.
Little eyes are watching you and so to help as you become that role model for your children, let me first offer six guideposts based upon Scripture from my book Direction: Discernment for the Decisions of Your Life.
While modeling is the significant first step, teaching the principles is the crucial second step. So to aid you in this important step, I offer an easy-to-use outline on using the parables to teach this important life skill.
Six Guideposts for Modeling Good Decision Making:
1. Know Your Standard Bearer
In ancient days, the standard or flag was carried into battle by one sworn to uphold all that the emblem signified, even to the point of wrapping his or her body in the banner before the fatal blow. Christ was God’s standard bearer to the world. His standard is the measure by which we are called to live. Let your child know by your words and actions who your Standard Bearer is.
2. Don’t Let a Detour Determine Your Direction
Life is full of detours. One minute we are zooming down the highway and then, right in the middle of the road, there is a detour sign sending us off in another direction, or so we think. Detours and dead-ends are not always a sign that we need to change course. Show your children that detours are not always a sign to change course, sometimes they are a test of our perseverance or willingness to see things through regardless of the cost.
3. Success Occurs Outside the Comfort Zone
Most of us like to operate within our own comfort zones where we know the landscape and can control the outcome. Yet, time after time we hear the tales of those who’ve traversed the sea of ordinary to become extraordinary. Are you showing your child that you don’t know all the answers and are often outside your comfort zone, but that we can rely on a God who does have all the answers?
4. Giant Strides Begin With a Single Step
Most of us want to do something BIG for God. We want to leave our mark on this world. We dream of making it big and giving God all of the glory. We also like overnight successes. Little do we know that each overnight success was preceded by many nights of little successes—and failures—till one day the overnight success happened. Do you begin each day taking the next little step you know to take? Know that as we change the 96th diaper for the day, it is often the little (or stinky) things that lead to great things in the end.
5. Choose the Road Less Traveled
Instead of the road less traveled, most prefer the path of relative ease. Crowded and filled with familiarity, this road appears to go where we want to go, after-all “everyone” is on it. Be sure you are not fooled by the flashy billboards. Are you willing to travel this often-lonely road when your middle school student insists, “everyone else’s parents are letting them do it?”
6. Your Goal May Not Be Your True Destination
You’ve heard it said: Joy is found in the journey, not the destination. Are you enjoying the journey? They’ll be grown before you know it, so enjoy the best you can even the most difficult days. Show your children that you trust a God who has the destination in His hands.
Eight Lessons For Teaching Godly Decision-Making:
Week Three in my new 13-week workbook Bible study, Parables and Word Pictures from the New Testament, takes the lessons from above and offers them in a kid-friendly way—the Jesus way—the parable way. These five lessons could be used in a summer home-Bible-school where the Kingdom Parables from Matthew, Chapter 13, not only “tell” but “show” through story just what good decisions are made of.
Matthew 13 covers these parables and makes these points:
Parable of the Sower
Use this parable to discuss the concepts of sowing and reaping, our job and God’s (retaliation), and despair when our decisions seem limited and evil appears to be winning.
Parable of the Weeds
Use this parable to talk about making decisions in the dark versus the light, about the craftiness of Satan who often disguises poor choices to look like good ones, and what we are supposed to do when confronted with ‘weeds among the wheat.’
Parable of the Mustard Seed and Yeast
Use these parables to examine decisions stemming from pride versus humility and to encourage the use of wisdom while remaining sweet and kind.
Parable of the Hidden Treasure and Pearl
Use these parables to discuss how to count the costs of good choices versus poor ones, and how to place a proper value on godly things when the shiny temptations of this world are so appealing.
Parable of the Net
Use this parable to talk about the importance of right goals, knowing one’s purpose, and the dangers of passing judgment.
Parable of the New and Old Treasures
Use this parable to consider how we influence others as we model good decision-making and our willingness to learn new things while valuing old lessons once learned.
This parable packed chapter offers many wonderful word pictures to foster discussions on the lessons of wise decision-making. These discussions combined with healthy parental modeling will produce the greatest opportunity for raising up a generation of godly decision-makers. Who knows, perhaps your son or daughter will be the next leader our country and our world needs—a man or woman after God’s own heart.
Cheri Cowell is the author of the new Bible study, Parables and Word Pictures from the New Testament, in the Following God series by AMG Publishers. She is an author, speaker, and sidewalk theologian with a passion to help others connect God’s Word to their daily lives. To learn more about Cheri visit her website.