You know what I’m loving right now? I am loving all of the back-to-school pictures. Those kids with their high hopes for the year ahead. And the moms with their high hopes for their kids—and their Starbucks!
I still remember Kate’s first day of kindergarten. Her bobbed hair pulled back with a huge, pink bow. Her denim dress, white socks, and little tennis shoes. Her expectant smile and shining blue eyes.
I remember her teacher holding a huge cut out teddy bear on a stick, directing everyone into the classroom, and then the door closing behind her, and me crying like I didn’t expect to cry.
I had high hopes as a parent back then. I had goals and desires for my daughters, like just getting through kindergarten. And I thought parenting would be a breeze (my third had not yet been born!).
It didn’t take long for me to lose sight of that early anticipation, though. As the years went by, my feelings of failure began to grow and I started to count, not my blessings, but my mistakes.
I can’t even begin to tell you the number of times I’ve felt like a failure as a parent. The times I’ve been too busy. The times I’ve talked too much and listened too little. The times I’ve forgotten to notice. The times I’ve . . .
And I keep counting.
Sometimes we wear our parenting failures around our neck, believing that our failures and shortcomings somehow define us.
(Or is that just me?)
But this summer I had a huge hit-me-over-the-head moment as I read through 1 Chronicles. In this obscure book, one you may not have even read before because . . . I mean, Chronicles??? . . . we find a parent who had failed a time or two. In fact, this parent was once accused of not disciplining his son (1 Kings 1:6), which almost resulted in his downfall.
Serious stuff, right?
Anyway, this parent picks himself back up, learns his lesson, and later is actually able to impart wisdom to another son. I guess it made a difference because this son ended up being the wisest man in the world.
I’m talking about King David and his son, Solomon.
King David wasn’t a perfect parent, not by any stretch of the imagination. As I said, his lack of parenting early on almost led to his demise as king when his son, Adonijah, tried to overthrow him and become king himself. Can you imagine?! Thankfully, God intervened and saved the throne for Solomon.
At the end of David’s life, which is where we find him in 1 Chronicles 28 and 29, David has managed to salvage some wisdom (perhaps from hard-learned lessons?) from his years of failure. He knows he’s about to die, so he calls Solomon to his side and tells him some really important stuff about how to live.
As I read these chapters this summer, I couldn’t help but wonder what I would want to impart to my kids at the end of my life.
“Always shop the outside of the grocery store, girls. It’s where the healthy stuff lives.”
“Keep the toilet paper stocked. Your husband will thank you.”
“Never buy full price.”
Hopefully I’ll be able to muster up something better than that, but then I realized I don’t have to. David has already done a good bit of wisdom work for me.
So, over the next few weeks we’re going to examine David’s final words to Solomon, his last bits of parental wisdom, and hopefully glean some understanding that we can use today. Because there’s always more wisdom to share . . . and to gain . . . no matter where we are in the parenting journey.
In the next four posts, I’ll share some lessons we can impart to our own kids to affirm, encourage, remind, and pray for them. Each lesson is taken from something David said to Solomon.
But first, I want to encourage you as a parent. You see, sometimes I think Solomon was only wise because that’s what he asked of God (1 Kings 3:5-14)—and that is a big part of it—but then I have to remember that Solomon was raised by David, a man after God’s own heart. I have to believe that, even though David wasn’t a perfect parent, he had the type of heart that God could use.
That’s what I want: a heart that God can use. Here are some of David’s words that I want to remember:
“You will be successful if you carefully obey the decrees and regulations that the Lord gave to Israel through Moses. Be strong and courageous; do not be afraid or lose heart.”
1 Chronicles 22:13.
How can I parent well? First, by obeying God. And, second, by not giving up.
On those days that I want to quit because nothing seems to be working or I feel my failures acutely? “Be strong and courageous.”
On the days I am afraid I will ruin my child forever because of some decision I’ve made? “Do not be afraid.”
On the days when I feel like I’m sinking under the stress and strain of everyday life? “Do not lose heart.”
On all of those hard days, God tells us through David: “Don’t give up! Don’t throw in the towel! There’s too much at stake.”
Our obedience matters to God, that’s for sure. But so does our perseverance. We can’t expect overnight success with our kids, but if we persevere, God tells us we will see results.
As a new school year begins, I want to encourage you—don’t quit. Don’t give up. Hang in there, even when it’s hard. Even when the school year seems long. Even when your kid doesn’t get the hang of fractions or grammar. Even when she feels like she has no friends.
Do what David did—ask God for wisdom. He has promised that he will supply it if we only ask (James 1:5).
And maybe grab some Starbucks along the way.
Here’s to a great year!
(Be sure to come back next week for Part 1 of the series: Affirm.)