A few weeks ago I was having a conversation with a friend about some discouraging trends we notice in parenting and the potential long-term implications of those trends on the child, the family and the Church.
Those trends included things like:
- Avoiding telling a child no
- Not expecting obedience or demanding respect
- Excusing rebellion
- Avoiding the inconvenience of discipline
- Protecting a child from all pain or frustration
He said, “Parents need to raise their kids–-not for comfort, but for war!”
Comfort vs. War. The contrast stuck with me.
Now I’m sure the above list made some of you uncomfortable. That’s okay. That’s the theme of the day. It is a calculated risk for me to make you feel uncomfortable for a bit.
We all crave comfort. I assert it’s the primary idol in our lives. More than money or sex or power or prestige or health or beauty or food or drink or relationships. I believe it is from the worship of comfort that other idolatry grows.
And this desire to keep ourselves and our kids comfortable also leads to a hundred poor parenting strategies.
It’s way easier to tie your child’s shoes than to teach them how. It’s much easier to roll your eyes and chuckle when you call for your child to stop yet they keep running on ahead. It’s easier to lie to your child and say they can have ice cream later (hoping they’ll forget) than to simply say, “No.” It’s much easier to pretend you didn’t see your child get down from the table without asking permission than it is to make them obey the rule.
Easy is comfortable. We say things like, “I’m picking my battles” but if we’re brutally honest, maybe we’re waving a white flag of surrender.
I don’t know your story, your struggles, or your reasons. Nor do I have a customized parenting plan for you. Your approach and your family are unique. But I do have a warning. If you are preferring constant comfort for yourself or your child, neither of you will be equipped for real life. You won’t be ready for war.
There’s a war between the world and the things of God. Entertainment, news, politics, education or business–-wherever you look you will find an attack on the values and the Word and the people of God. We are, as C.S. Lewis said, “in Enemy-occupied territory.” Open war is upon us, whether we like it or not.
It’s an all-out battle to courageously stand up for Christ. Not to mention the never-ending internal war we all fight against sin. And I haven’t even mentioned the devil yet!
So, if you’re chasing comfort, perhaps you’re running the wrong way. And if you are always basically comfortable, I’m afraid you’re not at war.
If however you feel like you’re in a firefight every day, that’s a good sign. It means you are intentionally training, “not for comfort, but for war.”
It takes intention to fight the lure of comfort in your life and parenting. To avoid the trap of easy trends. To do what is important, difficult, and time-consuming. To do what is helpful, necessary, and challenging. To raise your kids, not for comfort, but for war.
“Blessed be the Lord, my rock,Psalm 144:1
who trains my hands for war,
and my fingers for battle;”
Keep fighting the good fight,
P.S. I read an excellent book this week. It’s called Rest and War by Ben Stuart. It’s so good I’m re-reading it already. It’s like a field guide for the battle– super practical and helpful. I highly recommend it.