The first time I tried weeding my tiny carrot seedlings I quickly learned that they were easily uprooted when the more vigorous weed roots were pulled out disrupting of the soil. The result of my weeding labor was the complete removal of tiny carrot plants. When I was finished, there was a row without weeds, but also without carrot plants. I tried to replant the tiny carrots, but they never took, wilted, and then died. If I had left it as it was, come October, I would have worked really hard to produce an empty plot of earth. Not exactly a fruitful endeavor. So, next year, I waited until the carrot plants were bigger, more established, and I gently and carefully pulled out the weeds, a few at a time, until the row was growing only (mostly) what I wanted it to be growing.
The interesting part of this tale is that one day I realized that parenting is very much like gardening. If I vigorously remove the weeds (undesirable characteristics) from my children’s lives while they are very young, the process is likely to uproot the qualities I am attempting to “grow”. Once the desirable qualities are well established, it is safer to begin working out the undesirable, still very gently and carefully. What exactly am I trying to say? Harshly disciplining out the problems in our very young children disrupts the growth of their talents and character qualities. This matters because I don’t want the October of their lives to come around and for there to be rows of empty dirt. It would be rather like the servant who buried his one talent in Matthew 25:14-29 and upon his master’s return was chastised for wasting that talent instead of using it. It would be a waste of my parenting effort, and a waste of their potential to produce something great for the LORD.
The weedless rows might look nice to the momentary onlookers who pass by my garden though. Those rows might produce accolades from fellow parents.
This is where the trouble comes in. I’d better keep in mind what kind of fruit I’m trying to produce with every task I undertake- gardening, parenting or otherwise. If I’m after carrots, I’d better let them establish before I weed them. If I’m after weedlessness, I had better get out those weeds as soon as possible, regardless of the carrots, or anything else that’s growing.
Whether I am heading up a children’s program at church or discipling my own children, I had better fix my eyes on the growth of those little people toward the Son (Christ), rather than the approval of others.
“… whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”
1 Cor 10:31b