II. Modify Your Parenting Bend
Train up a child in the way he should go, Even when he is old he will not depart from it. (Proverbs 22:6)

Train Up by Stimulating Natural Instincts

The Hebrew word hanakh means “to dedicate” or “to consecrate.” It’s used only four times in the Old Testament, three times in reference to dedicating a building and once of a child in Proverbs 22:6. The phrase pictures the custom of a midwife dipping her finger into a pool of crushed dates in order to massage the palate and gums of a newborn. This encouraged the baby’s sucking instinct so that nursing could begin as soon as possible. In other words, she stimulated the baby’s gums in order to encourage the kind of behavior that would benefit the child. She wisely and deftly utilized the baby’s natural instinct to guide him toward what is best.

The best parental training is accomplished when we opt for inspiration instead of coercion. We do this by discovering the child’s natural desires and unique abilities and by encouraging the behavior that will allow him or her to develop accordingly.

A friend of mine who’s a clinical family counselor here in Cincinnati, noted that Dads often have better relationships with (or connect easier) with daughters. Moms have a tendency to get along better with sons.   Why is that I asked?  He said that when we train up our children, we see ourselves. When we Dads see the mistakes our sons are making, we see ourselves and begin to parent in a stressful way trying to stop the “little” us within them.  Same with Moms; Moms sometimes have a difficult time with daughters because they are “disciplining” the inner reflection they see of themselves.   As parents we’re critical of ourselves and our kids, and repeat our parents’ mistakes, rather than bending our parenting to each child’s needs.

Training up by Guiding (Bridle, Not a Yoke)

This is not to say that we merely allow children to do as they please or that we should avoid correction. Children have a BENT toward evil and wrong doing –what the Bible calls sin. We must train them toward forgiveness and right-doing.  A term similar is to TRAIN in closely related languages relates to the training of a horse. This image pictures a horse’s bridle, which subdues the horse for the purpose of directing its natural energies without breaking its spirit. Notice, however, that the bridle is not a yoke. Only a novice puts a rope in a horse’s mouth to dominate it. Experienced riders know that the horse’s bit is a point of contact in a relationship with the animal. Horses want to run because God gave them a desire to fulfill their created purpose. A wise, caring rider uses the bit and the reins to help the horse achieve its purpose safely and effectively.

Delight in Your God-given Benz

…when he is old he will not depart from it…

What is the “it” he will not depart from?  The child will not depart from the loving training that delighted in his unique bent. As a parent, this means we need to bend to the bent of our God-given benz. Every child is a unique Benz, like a Mercedes Benz,  and we need to treat them like a valuable Benz loaned to us by God. Parenting is hard and exhausting especially after a long day at the office. To give our children the attention they need, to impart values into their hearts, to communicate the love and delight of a father into their hearts is exhausting.  But children who know they are loved and delighted in, have strong identify and self-image.

A friend of mine has loaned us many of the cars from his car collection for this series. One day he pulled up to the church office in a sports car and told me to drive it.  I was humbled and scared. I said driving someone’s Ferrari is like dating the pastor’s daughter.   I was nervous about damaging it. I was jetting down Route 126 in Camp Dennison. The rear engine behind my neck was screaming. I was about to shift when I realized I was going 55 MPH in 2nd gear. He told me not to shift, a Ferrari is bent to rev high.  I was scared I would blow up the engine,  but he was telling me how to bend to the bent of this particular car.   We went to lunch and had a great conversation about parenting.  We both have children with special needs. He spoke of the challenges over the years of getting the proper care, help, and environment to help their adopted daughter. He spoke of the challenges and rewards of delighting in our kids.  And then he let me drive back.  🙂

Ross Campbell was a clinical psychologist and a father. He knew all the research on why we need to give our children eye contact, attention, good listening skills, and unconditional love. But he admits that when he gets home, usually all he feels like doing is eating supper, sitting in his favorite chair, reading the newspaper and relaxing. He writes that one of the promptings he gave himself to treat his children like a BENZ rather than himself was a friend of his named Robert Campbell who was a juvenile judge.  One of the most humiliating and tragic things that this friend could imagine was appearing in court.  Robert would say to himself.  “Mr. Campbell, one of every six children appears in Juvenile Court. If you want to make sure your child isn’t included you’d better hop to it and give them what they need instead of looking after yourself. ”  He realized that if his wife came into the living room and said, “I bought you a new Mercedes BENZ, he’d jump up to see it. He didn’t to do the same with his kids.”

Bend to the Bent of Your Benz

What is the motivation for all of us to bend?  How does this apply to me if I am single or kids are gone?  What do I learn about God and His parenting style with me?   First, we learn that God wants a training relationship with you.   He made you unique and purposeful with a bent to certain passions.  Some may think you’re too melancholy, or too optimistic, or too artsy, or too serious. God made you with a bent that is purposeful.  And, God was willing to bend to you farther than any parent has ever bent.   He realized that you too have a heart that is bent toward doing the wrong thing.  So, God modified his parenting BEND to come to earth, become a human being, and die on a cross to forgive you of your wrong doing.  Beyond that, He trains you in unique ways. He treats you different from other children since you are unique. Jesus, as an example, responded differently to two friends, Martha and Mary, when they separately told Him of the death of His friend Lazarus, their brother.  To Martha, who was task-oriented, He said “he will rise again.” To Mary, who was a “feeler,” he wept with her.   God BENT to their BEND.   He offers to us, that if we chose to be in a training relationship with Him, He will sing over you, brag over you, love over you like a royal eternal Mercedes BENZ based not on what you’ve done, but based on what Jesus did for you. Your “BENZ” worth comes from God. He gives you your worth undeserved.

Many of us have marriage trouble right now because we are not treating our spouses like a Benz. We are not bending to the unique bend of our spouse. We are trying to “bend” them out of shape.   We are not delighting in our spouses.   Others of us are not bending in the workplace.  We don’t treat our customers, or clients, or our employees like a Benz.   Or perhaps you are frustrated because you are doing “all the bending” with your brother, with your mother-in law…and you are frustrated.  God says that He saw your unique bent.  And while you may think your spouse, brother, or boss are “bent out of shape,”  God says that you and I were bent way out of shape, and yet He bent to meet our needs. He adapted. He accommodated. He became a man. He lived on earth. He felt pain, heartache, betrayal, denial…that was all part of God bending for you and I. When you see how bent you were, and how much God bent for you, your heart will be melted to change your approach in your marriage, with your daughter, with your boss, toward your parents. And God took you and delighted in you. He treated you like a Mercedes Benz. He sang songs over you. He bragged on you.  He offered to adopt you into His family by grace.   His grace is what makes you a BENZ.  His grace is what motivates you to be able to BEND toward someone else and treat them (even your enemies) like a BENZ.

Bend to the Bent of your Benz

For a free first session of Godonomics, visit:  http://www.godonomics.com/watch-session-1





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