Lately, my daughter’s been trying to relate God to everyday life by asking lots of questions and making statements about situations. A lot of it pertains to other kids. Though I’ve anticipated a practical working out of her five-year-old theology, sometimes I find myself floundering. How do I explain this truth which goes so deep and wide (a truth that even requires faith) to someone who’s just discovering the world?
While thinking on this I remembered something about myself. Years ago I worked for Starbucks, and at one point, being part of the management team, I was put in charge of training new partners. I remember getting frustrated as a teacher, the one explaining the how and why. I mean, making a coffee drink sounds simple, right? Not to me. My goal, and the company’s, was to craft a beverage as quickly and efficiently as possible. At the same time we were to make connections with the customers.
So as I taught, I felt like I over-explained everything. Was I confusing the barista-in-training and making this task much more complicated than I should?
Well, time passed, and about a year later, I was working the bar with a partner. We were dancing back and forth as we pumped out drinks, handed off with confidence. We were having fun, and making connections. At the end of our rush, I turned to my co-worker and said, “I love working bar with you! You do such a good job!”
With a laugh she said, “You should. You trained me.”
And I’d forgotten. Not only had I forgotten, but I wasn’t even aware that she’d understood and practiced what I taught her. For the first time, I realized someone had listened to me, and I’d actually trained someone to do their job well.
As I think of parenting, I remember this. I get scared to death that I over-explain or even over-simplify.
Knowing God is the essential in life. I want my kids to grasp Him. When my daughter asks why did God make bad guys? And is the boy at school a bad guy, because he doesn’t know Jesus? I’m stuck with where to begin. Maybe that sounds simple to some, but to me, those are very big questions. I stumble through, hoping she sees we’re all sinners in need of Jesus. Hoping she sees God didn’t make bad guys, but we choose our own paths.
I wish there was a manual on this job—parenting. I would tell her to turn to page one twenty four, and scroll my finger down the paragraphs to the exact right answer.
And I think to myself—ahem, that’s what the Bible’s for: to teach and instruct. It’s written as clearly as possible, because it’s written by God. But the Bible’s just another book if it doesn’t have the quickening of the Holy Spirit.
That’s the point for me as a parent. It’s the Holy Spirit who does the job of opening the eyes of understanding. My job as a parent is to know my God as I study to show myself approved. It’s to be ready to give an answer with meekness and fear.
2 Timothy 2:15 says, “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”
1 Peter 3:15 says, “Be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear.”
My job is to pray through it all, to wait on the Lord to bring understanding to my children.
It takes faith, because it’s out of my control—and this can tempt me to worry.
Today, I’m encouraged as I remember the barista I trained. She listened to me. She chose to practice what I taught, and she was great at her job. Not because of me. I only passed on what I’d learned.
I’m doing the same thing with my children—passing on what I’ve learned. As I place them in the hands of the Lord by faith, I have hope that they’re listening. I’m trusting that the Holy Spirit will teach them, softening their hearts and leading them to understanding. And maybe one day, their faith will be great. Not because of me, but all because of Him.