Sitting at the restaurant recently, while my family and I were enjoying the fellowship of an older preacher and his wife, I was also enjoying the fellowship of a nice, greasy burger.
This particular restaurant makes great heart-attack burgers, rich in fat and cholesterol – a favorite of cardiologists everywhere, and one of my favorites, as well.
Having been a preacher for forty years, Rich knew how to get even the most stoic of our reserved children to giggle. He leaned forward and asked my ten-year-old, "Did you hear about the snake who had eye trouble?"
Her eyes brightened and she wiggled in her seat, eager to hear his story. Even though the restaurant was raucous, all my children began listening intently.
“He went to the eye doctor and got a pair of glasses; but a few days later, his friend found him crying his heart out.
‘What’s the matter?’ his friend asked.
‘I got new glasses!’ wailed the snake.
‘But you look great in your new glasses! What are you crying for?’
‘I just found out that for two years I’ve been married to a garden hose!’”
All of us howled with laughter, and the kids set about to intervals of giggling and whispering amongst themselves.
Though the meal was punctuated with laughter and a general giddiness, there were many serious moments. It was during one of those lulls in the guffaws that I broached my favorite subject: passing on values to the next generation.
When Rich and Jean got married in the early ‘70’s, they would have never guessed that thirty years later, they would enjoy the rich heritage of having four children who love and serve the Lord. Now adults with families of their own, their children are all actively involved in church – one teaches Sunday School, another plays piano for her church, while one of their sons preaches in the prisons and nursing homes, and another child is also raising his own children to live for God. Rich and Jean are successful parents who have raised spiritually-minded children.
They are poster parents for godly parenting. So I asked them, “In your opinion, what do you think has been the most important thing you have done to help you raise your children right?”
Rich drew a breath and replied thoughtfully, “I would say that for us, it was a matter of being REAL. To be the same in church as we are at home is one of the most powerful tools in the parents’ toolbox. I don’t mean just a rigid consistency, but a real, true love for God.
“I would also say that the second thing is very closely related, and that’s JOY. Love joyfully. Be happy. If God is going to meet your needs, just trust Him and be joyful. Think of all the good things He has done! As Christians, we shouldn’t get the ‘mullygrubs’. It’s not a drudgery to serve God, it’s a Joy!”
Jean’s head quietly bobbed in agreement as her husband spoke. Rich continued, “Also, I know I disciplined attitude quicker than action. In other words, if they still did what I told them to do but had a bad attitude, I still disciplined them. Their attitude was way more important to me than just the outward actions.”
Though many people never get the opportunity to talk to successful parents, to ask them some important questions, I am thankful I’ve had that opportunity. And, much as I love a good ol’ heart-stopping grease burger, I much more enjoy gleaning from the wisdom of others and their many years’ experience.
And his final word of wisdom? “When we homeschooled our kids, we would not let them graduate until they could count from one to a hundred forwards and backwards in less than ten minutes!”
And this set the kids back to giggling again.