Parenting is a Process
by Kim Allen, Director of SHINE Children's Ministry
I am a lousy gardener.
I have killed so many plants and wasted so much money that I stopped counting my failures years ago. I singlehandedly keep the Winter Park Farmers’ Market plant guy in business. Our kids tease me relentlessly every Saturday that I come home with a van-load full of green beauty.
“Mom! Why did you buy more plants? They’re just going to die,” they remind me.
“Yes,” I reply, “and when they do, I will go buy more.” Hope springs eternal for someone like me. There is an optimism that maybe this time-- this time will be different. The wanna-be gardener in me will not give up.
In John 15, Jesus gives us a picture of His Father, the original Gardener. He reminds us that the point of a garden is to bear fruit, but it cannot possibly happen unless the Gardener is constantly tending, keeping a vigilant watch over this precious plot of ground. He is constantly pruning, always encouraging growth for more love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness and self-control—the evidence of His fruit being produced in us. (Galatians 5:22-23)
This reminds me a lot of parenting. Children need the same tender care as young, fragile plants. The Bible, with its plethora of agricultural references, has no shortage of ideas related to this. It even refers to children as olive shoots (see Psalm 128).
Because parents bear a special resemblance to God—made in His image but also caring for little image-bearers, we also have been given this grand task and privilege of gardening.
Do you ever lament that your “garden” is a lot of hard work? Perhaps yours needs a lot of fertilizer. Maybe the weeds are crowding out the growth. And who can ignore the threat of destruction from an outside force like a storm or varmints?
And so it should come as no surprise to us that this garden is an ongoing project. This is not a one-and-done deal. This reminds me of the time I was so impressed with myself one weekend when I was especially productive, weeding the entire area of newly planted vines in front of our house between the sidewalk and our street. It might have been the hottest Saturday in September. I had to stoop down and get really close in order to distinguish weeds from tiny true sprouts we had just planted. Nothing about it was easy or comfortable. After several hours, the job was done. Two weeks later, all the weeds had grown back and I was in the same predicament. Only after a long season of growth for those original plants could I finally see improvement.
The same is true for our children. Parenting is a process. There is no yard guru who can do the job that God has appointed for us. But do not despair for your garden. There is a Gardener who longs to tend you, to feed and nurture you so that you may, in turn, tend and nurture your garden as well. Ask the Gardener for help and then roll up your sleeves, get down on your knees, and tend the plot that God has given to you.
The Breadbox is our Children's Ministry email. This monthly publication arrives chock-full information about SHINE, but also tips and resources on how you can disciple your small people.