Did you ever walk into a situation with your children that took your breath away with the damage or the mess and they are standing there smiling because they thought they were doing something nice for you? The kitchen is a disaster, but the child was fixing you breakfast. The yard looks a mess with mohawks everywhere and the child is proud they mowed the lawn. You are now in a quandary. You want to discipline, you want to teach, you want to correct, you want to scream. I remember doing that once as a kid. I decided to clean the basement in the old house where we had a coal furnace. I thought I was really helping. When dad got home and saw it, he was really upset. I remember mom telling him that I was just trying to help. Honestly, as a kid, I had no idea what I had done wrong. As an adult now, I probably just pushed a lot of dirt and ashes around and made a big clean up job for dad.
As parents, Cathy and I have had a few of those moments. One particular vivid moment was Mary trying to help mom by taking care of baby brother. The brother happened to be John who is three years younger than her. John was a baby; so Mary was three. She came walking into the room helping mom by carrying John, but she was carrying him around the neck. Cathy gasped, but kept her calm and told Mary, “thank you honey,” and immediately took John. No panic. But in her mind, there was panic.
Responding to children when they are doing their best; and for you doing their worst, is an art form. Encouraging the child to do well, encouraging their willingness to serve, encouraging their innovation and initiative is so important to their healthy development into responsible adulthood. It is sad that wrong responses at a moment like that can scar a child and defeat their creativity. Harsh words when the heart of the child was to serve are damaging beyond the parent’s imagination.
Those in authority such as parents need to realize the power that is in their words and responses. The aggravation of a child’s mistakes can cause responses that are damaging and life altering. The child loves the parent and is attempting to please. Often, they are copying what they see the parent doing. Gardening may cause the child to help and pull flowers instead of weeds. Mary knew Cathy loved roses and she picked the neighbor’s rose for her. It was the town mayor’s rose. A son may want to help dad in the garage and mess with his tools; dad later finding them in the yard after a rain. Remember the first time your son washed your car? Yes, it was streaked and places missed.
The authority figure, the parent, boss, or pastor, or teacher has an inherent place of responsibility. The parent is to teach, encourage, and train. Perfection is not in the child’s repertoire. Little hands, inexperienced hands cannot accomplish what the parent expects fully. But with training and encouragement, sometimes the gift in the child exceeds the parent.
In the spiritual realm we must accomplish the same thing. Everyone who starts out to be a man or woman of God and wants to move in the power of God are like our children. Beginnings are imperfect. It takes time to develop into mature Christians, and especially those who seek to move in the Holy Spirit.
As a pastor, I am watching for the flock and over the flock of God. There are people who have latent gifts that need to be developed. I remember when I started to move in the gifts of the Spirit, it took God to move on me so strong that when I finally yielded it would come out in a torrent, sometimes loud and strong. Early prophetic words were fairly generic, but I was learning. I had a few good people to encourage me to keep going. I had an old cowboy evangelist kick me to get me to prophesy. I got a cowboy boot in the leg during that meeting and was told to let it go. Prophesy.
As I have worked on stewarding the gifts, working on people to move in the gifts, I find all kinds of responses. I have those who are afraid. You have to work with them to get going. I have the bold who get something and think that now everything they get is God. I have those who hear God, but expand it so much that they flow into the flesh with their opinions and reflections on the core God gave them. I have had those who when God is moving have strange motions and affectations which cause people to question the message. Weirdness is not a sign of anointing.
Responses to those learning is important. Too many in authority just shut down, forbid, teach against in order to control. We cannot develop a spiritual church by shutting down the Holy Spirit. We must learn to steward the move, encourage, train, and lead. We all can get better at hearing the voice of God and following Him. We need more young Christians learning.
Encourage and Train!