Six months ago, our oldest daughter moved to a new city to take a job, and, never one to shy away from a challenge, she threw herself into her work with her usual gusto. This fall, her company sent her on a three-week work trip to a foreign country where she had never been and where she did not speak the language.
Soon after she arrived at her destination, Kate texted me to say that things were a bit difficult and asked me to pray. As the weeks went on, it seemed that my daughter faced mounting pressure and increasing obstacles. My mama’s heart was breaking for my daughter, but I obviously couldn’t hop on a plane to rescue her.
Despite the road blocks she faced, I knew my daughter’s abilities, and I knew she’d handle the situation just fine. I also knew that she had sensed God’s leading to take this job and that she trusted his plan for her. I knew she would survive these challenging weeks by courageously moving ahead in faith.
My job, as a parent, was simply to encourage and to pray.
The next ten verses tell of the specifics that David had in mind for the temple. How big each section and room of the temple should be. How much gold Solomon needed for the priestly items. And how much each vessel, lamp, and table should weigh. David gave Solomon specific instructions for the priests—from their duties and divisions, down to their clothing. Every detail was laid out for Solomon.
David was handing over the most important job he’s ever entrusted to anyone—to build the most spectacular structure ever built as a resting place for the Lord. The significance of the work was not lost on David. He may have been tempted to take over and do the work himself, but God had told David specifically, through the prophet Nathan (1 Chronicles 17), that David wasn’t going to be the man to build the temple. His son, Solomon, was.
I imagine that this instruction took some time. David and Solomon probably spent many late-night hours hunched over papyrus, scratching out the details for the temple of the Lord. I imagine David, full of vision from God, talking fast, using his hands, pacing the floor, while Solomon listened intently, interjecting his thoughts and ideas every now and then.
I also imagine both men feeling overwhelmed.
When David had finished all the details about the temple, with the work about to commence, Scripture tells us this:
“Then David said to Solomon his son, ‘Be strong and courageous and do it. Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed, for the Lord God, even my God, is with you. He will not leave you or forsake you, until all the work for the service of the house of the Lord is finished.’” (1 Chronicles 28:20)
Parents, here’s what I want you to see. After all the late nights, all the planning, all the hours and hours of discussion, it might have been tempting for David to hand Solomon the papyrus scrolls and say, “Well, Son. Here you go. This is a big job—probably too big for you to handle. Don’t screw it up!”
But that’s not what David said. Rather than discourage his son by showing a lack of faith in him, David encouraged his son.
First, David told him to get going—do the work.
Sometimes our kids don’t need hand-holding; sometimes our kids need a kick in the pants. They need to hear, “You’ve got this. Give it a try.”
David’s encouragement, “Be strong and courageous and do it,” showed Solomon that David believed he was the man for the job.
Second, David goes on:
“Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed, for the Lord God, even my God, is with you. He will not leave you or forsake you, until all the work for the service of the house of the Lord is finished.”
While David trusts Solomon’s ability to do the work, he trusts more fully in God who called him. He knows the Lord. He’s seen God work in his own life time and again. David knows from experience and from God’s word that God wouldn’t give Solomon a task without the means to fulfill that task. David trusted in God’s character.
What does this mean for our own kids and for our parenting? It means that we can trust what God has done in the past and what he will do in the future, both in our lives and in the lives of our children. We can trust that God has a plan for our kids.
It also means we don’t have to shame our children or badger them or hover over them. All we need to do is to be God’s instrument of instruction in our kids’ lives and then we can step back and let God do his work.
This does not free us from responsibility—imagine the hours that David spent instructing Solomon!—but it does free us to trust God’s plan for our kids.
What is your child learning right now? What challenges is he or she facing?
Maybe he is facing a difficult decision or trying to master a new skill. Maybe she is trying out for a new sport or the school musical. Be the encouragement your child needs by instructing as needed, assuring them of God’s plan for their life, and proclaiming your trust in the God who gave them their abilities.
Finally, pray often for your kids and prepare to be amazed at what God does through them.