"Good Night, John Boy"

“Life’s golden age is when the children are too old to need baby sitters and too young to borrow the family car” (Anonymous).
Remember the Waltons and their late night ritual? “Good night, John Boy,” “Good night, Mary Ellen …” You just knew that everyone in that family slept soundly, for they were loved and secure. Big families were more common in those depression days.
I always wondered how the parents raised all those kids. In a day when labor-saving devices were scarce, how did they do it? When dad spent twelve hours in the fields chopping cotton and mom wrung her knuckles raw on the wash board how did the kids not run amok and terrorize the countryside?
I can think of only one answer. The older kids.
Older kids became responsible for themselves. You didn’t have to bathe or clothe a thirteen-year-old. From churning butter yellow to feeding the chickens, older kids did chores in order to lighten the load for mom and dad.
Older kids would also take care of younger kids. Of course, they didn’t do everything for the little ones, but they could baby-sit, feed, and clothe them.
It was part of being in a family.
Our church family is no different. The Bible often speaks of Christians as “babes” in Christ, and “mature.” We are often urged to “grow” in the faith. In order to lighten the load on the good men who serve as elders, some of us will have to attend worship, and be faithful all by ourselves. Shepherds won’t have to beg and bribe us to serve Christ. We will have a much higher motivation than “the elders” to do so.
We will serve because of Christ!
And mature Christians will look after the “lame” and the “weak” without being asked. They will fill in the gaps and do the “chores,” not because they “have to” but because that’s what older siblings do!
Part of becoming mature is the ability to see beyond one’s own needs, to the needs of others. But it takes more than simply pointing out needs and demanding that they be met; older siblings took it on themselves to fill those needs.
We need to do this “until we all reach unity in faith and in the knowledge of the son of God, and become mature, attaining the whole measure of the fullness of Christ” (Ephesians 4:13).
“Good night, mom and dad. Good night, John Boy. Good night, Bobby.”

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Stan Mitchell

Stan has preached since 1976, in Zimbabwe, California, Texas and Tennessee. He serves as preacher for the Red Walnut Church of Christ in Bath Springs, TN. He is currently Professor of Bible at Freed-Hardeman University. He is married to the former Marjorie McCarthy, and has one daughter, Tracy Watts. He is the author of four books: The Wise Get Wiser, the Foolish More Foolish: The Book of Proverbs, Give the Winds a Mighty Voice: Our Worship in Song, and Equipping the Saints for Ministry. He has recently published another book, "Will Our Faith Have Children: Developing Leadership in the Church for the Next Generation.

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