Bending the Tree

“Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6).
One parent recalls making a mistake as a parent that plagued him for decades. Finally he picked up the phone and apologized to his son. “Of course I forgive you,” the now grown son declared, “but to tell you the truth, I don’t even remember the incident!”
The two most important factors in a relationship are humility and forgiveness. We must have sufficient humility to admit our mistakes, and enough maturity to forgive others their mistakes. Parenting is not an easy task, for several reasons.
1. The “Texas Institute of Parenting.” Of course there is no such institute! Most parents receive little training for this vital task. We send policemen to academies and engineers to graduate school, but expect parents to direct their little ones with no preparation!
2. The “Advice-is-Free” Hotline. Do you want unsolicited advice? Just have a baby. Aunties and confirmed bachelors, strangers in the grocery store, and grandparents will all offer advice! Most of the advice is worth what you paid for it.
3. The “One Size Fits All” Uniform Factory. Children are individuals. What worked for one child might not work for the next. Older children put terrible pressure on younger children when they achieve certain things (I spared my younger siblings this trauma!). We’re not manufacturing matchboxes, we’re molding human beings.
4. The “Free Fall School of High Diving.” This is the theory that parents have only one chance to do it right. That’s a lie! While children grow and mature, so do parents! We can study and learn from our mistakes. Any relationship is a dynamic, growing, living thing. It’s never static.
Our problem is that we get our parenting advice from Oprah, the self-help shelf, practically any source of help except the word of God! We forget that when we bend the tree in a certain direction, it affects not just his next twenty years, but his eternal destiny!
When you bend the tree, make sure you also bend the knee!
Kids are spiritual beings with eternal souls! The direction of this bent tree will extend for an eternal lifetime!

The following two tabs change content below.

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.

Latest posts by Stan Mitchell (see all)

One thought on “Bending the Tree

  1. An excellent article. More needed on this subject. I have experienced similar incidences where after repentance and confession, the party thanked me but said, as in your illustration, I do not remember the offense. On one occasion my brother did this exact same thing. He felt he ought to apologize to me for some matter and I could not remember what he was referring to. However, I took advantage of the situation and told him that to really ease his conscience he would have to come and visit me for a few days! / Respectfully / JO

Share your thoughts: