I’ve been in the workforce for about 30 years now- my first job was at Hardee’s in Peachtree City Georgia and now I’m an Associate Minister in Worthington Minnesota. I’ve worked for several companies in various roles and in that 30+ years, I’ve worked for “absent bosses”. Some of those bosses were literally physically absent- never in the store (when I worked at Best Buy) or the office, while others were physically present, they were practically gone- holed up in some corner or always “too busy” to engage those they worked for or even customers. This presents all sorts of issues for both those they work with and for, as well as those they are called to lead.
A few months ago, I stumbled across an article from LinkedIn called, The 4 Worst Habits of an Absent Boss that really put some words to what I’ve felt over the years. About a week ago, my wife was telling me that she had been thinking about that article and how it applied to parenting, especially the role of parents as it relates to passing on the Christian faith to their children. Here’s our take- The 4 Worst Habits of a Spiritually Absent Parent:
- Spiritually Absent Parents are Irresponsible. Because these parents are unaware of the most important thing to find meaning in, they chase meaning in every other thing. Without a definitive and guiding principle (make disciples) they try anything and everything and are always convinced that they’re not doing enough. There are literally dozens of balls in the air, with each having the same level of importance and each requiring the same level of commitment.
- Spiritually Absent Parents are Unresponsive. Because of everything taking place and going on around them, they can’t make a commitment beyond the short term. Like author Barry Schwartz states in his 2004 book The Paradox of Choice, the sheer amount of things to choose from paralyzes parents, so they choose what they think is best, regardless of whether or not it is actually best. Often, what proves to be “best” is what gives them (or their kids) accolades, so they continue in that “best”.
“Failure’s hard, but success is more dangerous. If you’re successful at the wrong thing, the mix of praise and money and opportunity can lock you in forever”- Po Bronson.
- Spiritually Absent Parents are Indifferent. Because they are not connected spiritually with their kids, they have no way to offer true feedback (or give scriptural advice) to them. If they are not growing spiritually, this is a double-whammy because they would then have no basis to speak into the lives of their kids from a credibility standpoint. There is an assumption of “I’m ok, you’re ok” which is NOT the Christian way.
- Spiritually Absent Parents are Spontaneous. One week they’ll go to church, the next they won’t. A parent might offer up an attempt to disciple, but because there is not consistent framework or context for these random bits of whimsical advice (see point 1), they just make no sense. Beyond that, these spontaneous sayings reduce the Bible, or Jesus, to that of a sage, with scripture verses being a Christian version of “no pain, no gain.”
Is this you? Romans 12:3 tells the believer, “Don’t think you are better than you really are. Be honest in your evaluation of yourselves, measuring yourselves by the faith God has given you.”
To paraphrase RC Sproul Jr- the key to happy parenting is the key to a happy anything- repent and believe the Gospel.
Don’t be like the rich young ruler- he was convicted by Jesus and then simply went away sad, “because he had great wealth.” Sadness and repentance are NOT the same thing.
Perhaps you’ve got a great deal of “investment” in the wrong things. I’m on a mission to equip, teach and lead parents to take greater ownership of the spiritual development of their children and families. Because of this, I’d love to talk with you and share what it looks like to be a “Spiritually Present Parent.” It won’t be easy, and it may not be fun.
But, you know what they say…
“No pain, no gain.”