Focus 2 (of 4) -Parenthood is Particular

Focus 2 | Parenthood is Particular

Caring for an imperfect person and wanting what’s best for them in an imperfect world is as frustrating as it is worthwhile.
Consider this ice breaker question to get started.
Who was your favorite teacher and why?
See what this Spotlight—and series— is focused on.
Tap on the words "Focus 2" in the image below to read this Spotlight's summary.
Let’s talk about best interests.
Listen to this audio clip when you’re ready to begin today’s Spotlight.
(And welcome, by the way! It’s great that you’re here!)
Watch this video to appreciate the work of caring for someone who won’t act in their best interests.

It’s Toy Story 4, really. Watch the video below to see Woody (the cowboy toy) try to take care of a home-made spork toy that keeps trying to throw itself away.

In this story (to be clear) Woody is the parent and the spork is the child—or Woody is like God and the spork is like… well… us.

(As you watch, notice particularly the way the artists who made the movie put that look of determined love into the eyes of Woody at the very end. It’s beautiful!)
Welcome Perspective
Caring for broken people in an imperfect world will frustrate you.
Acknowledge your frustrations to God.
You don’t have to be a parent to be frustrated. Trying to care about broken people in an imperfect world (while being less-than-perfect yourself) is a formula for frustration.

Use the prayer prompts below to internalize this and talk to God about it.
Lord, have mercy on me when things are frustrating. I know you don’t want frustration for anyone, and I believe your love is enough to carry us through it—I’m going to share the things that frustrate me with you now so I don’t bear them alone. Thank you for listening.

Join Jesus in his frustration.

God is good—he loves you and wants to know about those things that cause you anger and frustration. He’s no stranger to having good desires, plans, and goals and watching them be frustrated by an imperfect world.

Read how Jesus expressed that frustration in Luke 13:31–35.

At that time some Pharisees came to Jesus and said to him, “Leave this place and go somewhere else. Herod wants to kill you.” He replied, “Go tell that fox, ‘I will keep on driving out demons and healing people today and tomorrow, and on the third day I will reach my goal.’ In any case, I must press on today and tomorrow and the next day—for surely no prophet can die outside Jerusalem!

“Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing. Look, your house is left to you desolate. I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.’”

Two notes before you move on:

  1. Jesus uses a parental metaphor (a hen gathering chicks) to express the pain he feels from being rejected by the people he came to save. 
  2. The day Jesus refers to in the last sentence is the day he came into Jerusalem on a donkey, which was only five days before he died on the cross to pay for the sins of the world. This matters because while it was Jerusalem who rejected him and paved the way for the desolation that would come, if was Jesus (in a parental role) who would suffer the true pain from their rejection—all so they would be spared it.

Listen to this song and meditate on the push and pull of wanting what’s best in a world that doesn’t want it.

The song “How to be Yours” is a reflection on being frustrated with being frustrating. It’s a prayer to God asking him what to do when you can’t seem to do what’s best. 

In the last portion of the song, the singer’s frustration is answered by God with words of love, mercy, and grace:

So love me or hate me, I’m not going anywhere.
Leave me or take me, you still bear my signature.
Know me or not, seen or forgot, I’m not walking out on you.

(As you listen, thank God for the love he shows in his response to your frustrating-ness.)
Worship Perspective
God knows frustration—and he knows how to keep on when the plan is good.
Take apart some instructions for parents and children.
Read these two fairly straightforward verses from the Bible:

Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord.
Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged.
Colossians 3:20–21

Use the questions below to discuss the verses and make them as clear as possible.

Why? Because while the sentences are simple, the consequences of them are significant, and it can be easy for these roles to get a little mixed up.

(One quick note: while the second command is addressed to “fathers,” it is perfectly acceptable to apply it generally to parents. While this section of Colossians includes commands for both husbands and wives, it doesn’t include one for mothers. The corresponding pair of commands here is one for children and one for parents.)

Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord.
Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged.
Colossians 3:20–21

Reconsider how to act in frustration.

Meet Victor Vieth, Chief Program Officer of the Zero Abuse Project. He's trained thousands of professionals and parents to reconsider the ways they discipline their children and the way they approach physical discipline.

→ Read this news segment on spanking and abuse in which Mr. Vieth was interviewed.

What follows is an excerpt from an article he wrote entitled "Augustine, Luther, and Solomon: Providing Pastoral Guidance to Parents on the Corporal Punishment of Children."

The corporal punishment of adults and children was a commonly accepted practice in the early church with physical discipline rooted in several verses in the book of Proverbs. Although the church largely abandoned the belief that adults need physical discipline, the corporal punishment of children continues to be widely used in Protestant circles with some prominent Christian pastors contending that physical discipline is required by the Bible.

  • Discuss what you’ve heard about corporal punishment in the church. How can God’s family improve?

+ READ THIS SEGMENT ON SPANKING (if you didn't read it already)
Learn Perspective
God will be patient when you can’t be and support you when you can be.
Take a look at We Heart Seattle.
Whether you’re actually parenting a child or you find yourself in a position to graciously care for and serve someone in your community, frustration will be part of the formula. Imperfect people serving imperfect people in an imperfect world = frustration.

We Heart Seattle has faced such frustration and has (in this writer's opinion, with great grace) faithfully continued in the mission and winsomely engaged those who oppose them. You can learn more about what they do and how they go about it by visiting their website using the link below.


Feel free to submit a prayer request by filling out the below form.
(If you choose to make your request public, you'll see it display in the Current at the end of the Spotlight along with anyone else who did the same.)

Prayer Requests

Pray through your requests—together—as a group.
After submitting your requests in the above form, take some time to share with your group whatever requests the group might have for this week.
Serve Perspective
Frustration is not an excuse for inaction. It’s a test for love.
Close by meditating on Psalm 127.
Psalm 127 expresses the goodness of God putting a family together and including children in it—but it’s more than that, too.

It’s about needing God to be intrinsic to all your household (no matter how many people are in it) is. He’s the one that will make it work, and without him, it won’t.
Sing along with (or listen to) this song to close out this Spotlight.
Feel free to sing along or simply listen. Do what makes you comfortable—but do whatever helps you focus on the song's meaning best.
Farewell Perspective
Whether the world is perfect or not, loving must be its own reward.
Let's wrap things up by taking a look at what's Current at Illume.
Tap on the buttons in the frame below to see what’s currently happening at Illume—information on everything from current and upcoming online content to live events and opportunities to serve in the community can all be found here.

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