Organic is the new buzzword in food and business. But it has been around a long time in the church/family conversation. We have talked about the church being an organism not an organization, that it has an organic character that goes beyond good planning and strategy. It has to do with the presence of the Holy Spirit as a the dynamic force in church life and health. Without Him, there is no church, just social networking and lifeless religion. With him there is an organic characteristic to the life health and growth of the church.
In the same sense, families are not well run organizations, rather they are organic structures when nurtured correctly produce a fruitfulness that cannot be duplicated through strategy alone.
Take a look at the tree diagram to the right (Click here for a PDF) It has the fruit component in the branches; these are characteristics we want to create in our children and family. It also has the “grave” component under the ground; these are the behaviors we want to suppress and get rid of in our children. Then there is the middle highlighted section entitled “soil/seed”, in this instance it is “identity”. It is the focal point of parenting, believe it or not it takes precedence over the training and disciplining that is focused on the behaviors to produce or suppress. As a parent, you want to prioritize and focus on the seed/soil aspect of parenting. This will empower your training and discipline.
The soil of our lives is the mind; our core beliefs and values about self, others and God. It is from here that the fruit of life grows and without it the efforts of parents are either foiled altogether or radically hampered. We all want the same thing. Some parents succeed, some fail. It isn’t luck; some parents have discovered the both-and aspect of parenting and have focused on key elements in the soil of their family that has fueled the results of fruit and avoidance.
So let’s get specific. One of the fruits on the tree is “confidence”. One of the caskets in the grave is “people pleasing.” How do I get my child to have confidence and stop living for the whims of others? I can (and should) point out the qualities to strive for and the behaviors to avoid. I can (and should) create contexts where my child succeeds and excels to build confidence and provide the tools to avoid being manipulated by others. But that simply teaches an external process (which is important) to put into effect in certain circumstances. I want my kids to have these strengths not simply as a method, strategy, and set of skills to implement at the appropriate times rather as part of their make-up, their identity.
I want to impart to my children a healthy sense of identity. The problem now is that this is not simply a method or strategy, it is an inheritance from you, the parents. Parenting grows out of the pool of health in a marriage that has it’s origin in the health of individuals who have connected back to the fountainhead of life and health, God. I am a healthy individual in that I know who I am in Christ. I married a healthy individual who shared that foundation of life in Christ. Our marriage has reflected that strength of life and we were able to convince our children of the strength of their identity by leading them to Christ.
Parenting is not simply learning steps and strategies and imposing them on children. It is living genuinely as an example of health that is worth emulating. My focus in life is on my identity in Christ and submitting to His image and will. In turn I direct my children there. It is not simply forcing them to church, and strong-arming them from misbehaving. It is planting FIRST an identity within them that begins to grow outside of them. The goals are the same (doing some things and not doing others) but the results are immeasurably different.