Over the last several months, I've been trying to memorize the book of Ephesians after being challenged to Scripture memory by John Piper's When I Don't Desire God
. (It's an excellent book by the way. I would strongly encourage anyone to read it).
Well, I just recently have been doing a lot of thinking about this verse in chapter 6. "
Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord. "
In the past, I was always puzzled about what exactly this means. How do you exasperate your children? What does that look like?
Now I realize that I don't know the first thing about parenting. I'm thrilled that in a few months Shelley and I are going to get the chance to find out, but when push comes to shove, I have to admit my ignorance on the subject. After all, I have no experience whatsoever.
But as I've worked on this verse, I've started to get an idea about what it means. And of course, my puppy Sarge is giving me a clue about it as well.
Here's what I'm thinking. As I've been potty training Sarge, I have realized that I need to put Sarge in situations where he is more likely to succeed than to fail. For instance, that means that I need to take him outside regularly and give him plenty of opportunities to do his business in the right way in order that he doesn't learn bad habits. That's the right way of potty training the dog.
The wrong way is if I put Sarge in a situation where he is bound to fail and then get on his case about it. Imagine if I were to keep the dog alone in the house all day and then come home eight hours later only to find messes everywhere. Then I severely scold the dog for his "misbehavior." But that's extremely unfair to the dog. I put the dog in a situation where he would inevitably fail and guess what--he failed. I think that what Paul means by the word "exasperate."
As a future parent, I want my kids to succeed. I want them to be godly kids. So in order to do that, I need to put them in situations where they have every opportunity to do so. Of course, that's easier said than done.