Every month or two my wife and I continue to learn something new about parenting. Just when we think we have turned the corner on the complexities of navigating teens or preteens, we find there is more to do. Although I have read much material, and sat under great mentorship, I find there is really no cookie-cutter approach to parenting.
Indeed we have discovered that each child is different, and thus we need to journey with them sensitively and individually. One child may be susceptible to one thing, and the other child susceptible to something else. So painting every child with the same broad brush exposes a parent to blind spots that the enemy could take advantage of in upstaging your child’s development.
The metaphor of the journey speaks volumes to me in terms of parenting. See when I traveled to Florida with my family, I realized that it was a journey, a long one. There are different people traveling along the same highway but not everyone is at the same point, indeed some have gone farther than others. Also not everyone has the same experience. Some are embarking on this journey for the first time, and don’t know what’s ahead, while others are very experienced and can methodically pace themselves knowing what is beyond each peak or valley. Likewise, I have come to realize that life is a journey, and indeed parenting is no exception. Our children are on different aspects of their journey, and thus we need to relate to them within that context and paradigm, trusting that they will develop and reach maturity.
God has challenged me to approach the avenue of discipleship with the journey mentality. When I first started pastoring, I had two categories for people, in or out. Are you plugging away hard for God, then you are in, otherwise I had little time to waste. But see I wasn’t acknowledging the fact that we are all at different places.
If Jesus had this same one-size-fits-all approach, then Nicodemus may never have become a disciple.
You remember Nicodemus right? He appears only three times in the gospels. In John 3, he stealthily approaches Jesus under the cover of darkness, indicative of the fact that he is not willing to stand out as a believer because of the political implications of his role as a chief ranking religious officer. However disdain we may have for Nicodemus let’s remember that the famous John 3:16 verse was uttered to him. And clearly he heard Christ’s evangelistic proclamation, because later on in the gospel of John, we see that he came forward as a disciple.
See, when people are at earlier parts of their spiritual journey with Christ, we shouldn’t judge them with our own experienced view. We need to simply acknowledge what God is doing in their lives, and give them room. They may grow, but they may also fall away.
That’s why Paul said in Galatians 4:19 that he is travails as woman in the process of childbirth until his disciples become fully formed in Christ. Having spiritual children is painful. There will be ups and down, but God can work in people’s lives to bring growth.
We meet Nicodemus later, many months into his Christian Journey, and he is fully converted. This is clear because he was found following Christ in a time when it was intensely risky. See Jesus had been condemned to die by Pilate, and then summarily executed. All that was left was his body to be retrieved and buried. Two disciples came forward for this task, Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea. It’s quite significant that Nicodemus chose this time to break ranks with the religious rulers who had condemned Christ. Accompanying Joseph was a very bold move, no longer was he lost and searching, he believed. Clearly he had successful progressed in his journey of discipleship
I believe, there are many Nicodemus’ in every church today waiting to be developed, some won’t make it but we can believe for many to. But it starts with you and I being faithful to fulfill our trust of encouraging, praying, mentoring, and serving the ones God has brought into our lives, knowing that ultimately the Holy Spirit is the one that draws all men unto him.
Maybe you are a Nicodemus today. Let me ask you, where are you in your Journey of faith? Are you at the beginning, in the middle or at the peak of your Christian walk? Regardless of where you may be God has so much more for you. Why don’t you today reach up to God to ask for strength with every challenge or obstacle. And while you are doing that remember you are not called to be an island, so “reach in” towards those around you for encouragement and support.
– Pastor Olu Jegede