Do your kids try to highjack your parenting? Have you ever hurt the situation by not giving up your initial desires? Today AMBrewster helps Christian parents better understand how to rotate their priorities by using two biblical examples.
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Lord willing, in just a short while we’ll not only be celebrating our second full year of podcasting — applying God’s Word to our parenting — but we’ll also be publishing our 200th episode.
I don’t know about you, but that’s pretty awesome, and for all of you who’ve been on this ride with us, shared it with your friends, reviewed the show, sent us an email, and became a Patron . . . I can’t thank you enough.
But I’d like to try.
In the middle of September, 2018 — Lord willing — I’m going to be speaking at Covenant School in Dallas, Texas.
My gracious hosts thought it would be a great idea to host a TLP Meet-and-Greet for any listeners in the area or for anyone who would be willing to meet us there.
I think this is going to be awesome. I’m really looking forward to connecting with you, our listeners, face-to-face. My goal is just to be a blessing and encouragement to you.
Now, I’m going to give you more details over the next few episodes, and — when the time comes — I’m going to ask you to RSVP with TeamTLP@TruthLoveParent.com if you’re planning to attend.
But — for now — I hope that you’ll pray about coming to our first ever TLP Meet-and-Greet in the Dallas area.
Our God is so awesome; He deserves to be at the center of our parenting.
We shouldn’t have parent or child centered-homes. We have God-centered homes . . . and that makes all the difference.
And that’s the whole point and purpose of TLP’s podcast, online resources, meet-and-greets, and counseling.
Now, one thing I love about doing this for almost two years is that I can take the time to expand previous concepts. Sometimes twenty minutes just isn’t long enough to fully explain myself, and today’s topics is one of those.
Now, if you haven’t heard episodes 38 and 39, it would be a huge help if you listened to them before continuing with today’s episode. I think you’ll see where I’m going, but I would definitely take the time to listen to all three together.
Episode 38 introduced The Communication House and episode 39 revealed the indispensable parenting tool called Revolving Priorities.
And today we’re going to briefly review what Revolving Priorities is and then look at two fantastic biblical examples where the individual in the text uses Revolving Priorities so well that we should strive to imitate them.
So, let’s review and then dive into Scripture.
The foundation of Revolving Priorities is that we as parents must understand that at any given time the most important thing to us may not be the most important thing at all.
Here’s how it works:
This is the where we parents either set ourselves up for failure or success.
You see, it’s our selfish tendency to want to get what we want. My original desire was to ask how my kid’s homework was coming because I simply wanted some factual information. I may have asked because I knew he wasn’t doing what he should be doing, and I wanted to low-key encourage him to get started. I may also have just been wanting to strike up some casual conversation in order to show him that I love him.
Whatever the motivation, I didn’t get what I want. His annoyed response didn’t really provide me the information I wanted, didn’t really fix the fact that he wasn’t working on his homework, or apparently communicate the level of love I was hoping.
So, now my own temptation to annoyance or anger or whatever other inappropriate response may slam a wrecking ball into his oncoming train.
But, we’re both commanded by God to stay in The Communication House. He’s obviously stepped outside, and nothing will be gained and God will not be glorified if I join him on the front lawn.
So, this is where Revolving Priorities keeps us on track.
Immediately, finding out how the homework is coming in no longer important to me. It may become important again later. It may never be broached again today. But — for now — it’s definitely not the most important thing I can be doing.
Now, in order to decide how to rotate my priorities, I need to have a firm grasp on God’s commands for life. If I don’t know what God says about parent/child relationships, communication, and homework, I’ll be left with no other recourse than to respond from my own version of Truth . . . and that’s never valuable. At that point I’m just asking my child to worship me. That’s not going to benefit either of us.
But when I know what God has to say about communication, and if I’ve laid a groundwork with my child about how Christ-honoring relationships work, then I can rotate away from the homework and toward Christ’s High Biblical Expectations for our lives.
4. I decide to revolve my priorities to address the negative attitude communicated by his tone.
5. Now I need to pay close attention to the response in order to know if I should stay with the current priority, rotate back to the first one, or move on to another.
Here’s how it may work:
First, he may apologize right away, realizing that he responded incorrectly. We can chat about whatever was at the root of his bad fruit, and then we can move on.
Second, he may ask legitimate question. When I say “legitimate question,” I’m referring to one that is genuinely interested in the answer, not merely a question meant to sidetrack. By the way, when kids go off on rabbit trails or try to distract or sidetrack the conversation, they’re exercising their own version of Revolving Priorities.
Anyway, my child may have forgotten exactly what The Communication House was, they may legitimately not understand what was wrong with their tone, etc. In all of those situations, keeping with my new priority is probably best.
Or third, my child may continue south in his tirade. Every word he speaks and action he takes showing me a more clear picture as to the root of the problem. As I gain a clearer understanding of his beliefs that are currently attacking God, I need to revolve in that direction.
So, that’s how Revolving Priorities works. Here are two real-life, biblical examples of them working.
The first comes from I Kings 18:17-18.
Here’s the situation, the prophet Elijah and ultimate loser king Ahab are always going toe-to-toe. In fact, the last time they met, God promised it wasn’t going to rain for three years.
Now at the beginning of chapter 18, God tells Elijah to confront Ahab, and — among other things — tell him that it’s finally going to rain.
So, Ahab sees Elijah and his first words are, “Is it you, you troubler of Israel?”
Now remember that Elijah has been told by God exactly what to do and say. Doesn’t that sound like parenting? We know exactly what God wants us to do. It’s in His Word, and — as Ambassador Parents — we’re to parent the Bible into every opportunity in our family life.
So, Elijah doesn’t play Ahab’s game. He replies, “I have not troubled Israel, but you have, and your father's house, because you have abandoned the commandments of the Lord and followed the Baals. Now therefore send and gather all Israel to me at Mount Carmel, and the 450 prophets of Baal and the 400 prophets of Asherah, who eat at Jezebel's table.”
The only reason he even acknowledges Ahab’s taunt was to turn it around on him and use it to condemn him.
And then without waiting for a response, Elijah continues right into the God’s command. He’s basically bossing the king around because he knows that the it’s the Ultimate King of the universe who’s talking through him. This has nothing to do with Elijah; it’s all about God.
Now, this example isn’t going to fit well with most of your opportunities to revolve your priorities. Elijah is dealing with a God-hating terrorist who God knew was never going to submit to Him.
However, before we move on to our last example, we need to glean some instruction from this anecdote.
1. You never need to revolve with your children’s attempt to accomplish their own purposes.
They may be trying to hurt your feelings, scare you into compromising, defying you, or whatever. But you don’t have to walk down that road. They are not the authority. God is, and you’re His First-Follower. Your God-focused priority is all that matters.
Now, that doesn’t mean you engage in a shouting match to get your point across. No. We need to parent in Truth and love. And each parent/child dynamic will be a little different, but my main point is that you don’t have to surrender your priority to your child’s. You simply need to submit your priority to God’s.
2. Your children’s actions, words, feelings, desires, and beliefs must guide how you revolve your priorities.
Ahab was trying to condemn Elijah, but he took the opportunity to get to the root of the issue. It was Ahab who had troubled Israel with his sin.
Perhaps your child says, “You don’t love me!” It might be appropriate to take her to the Scripture that shows that you have — in fact — loved her dearly, but that her words are the truly unloving response.
3. Speak confidently when you speak Truth.
I’m not saying to be arrogant or braggadocios or greater-than-thou, I’m simply saying that you can be confident that you’re doing the right thing in the right way when you do what God commands in the right way for the right reasons with the right power.
Elijah could command the King of Israel to do what he said because he knew who the real Authority was.
Okay, so that’s a simple example of Revolving Priorities within a seriously antagonistic situation.
Here’s one that will mirror our average encounter a little better.
Consider with me John 4.
So, Jesus’s disciples had just gone into a nearby city to buy food when a woman came out from the city to collect water from the well.
There are so many amazing things about this passage, but I’m going to try to limit my considerations to our discussion today. Just know that I am — in no way — doing any expository justice to this passage.
So, you can imagine it. The woman walks up, Jesus is sitting there, and His first words are, “Give me a drink.”
Now, we need to start by understanding that it was Christ’s ultimate goal to introduce Himself to her as her Savior and Lord. That was His main priority, but we’ll see Him get to it by bouncing from one priority to another.
And the other interesting note is that the woman is going to try very hard to Revolve the Priorities to her own liking nearly every step of the way.
Anyway, I’m not sure if Jesus actually ever got a drink because her first attempt to change the direction of the conversation and possibly get out of having to give him a drink was to remind Jesus that He should be prejudiced against her. She said, “How is it that you, a Jew, ask for a drink from me, a woman of Samaria?”
Few Jewish men would have wasted the words on a Samaritan, let a lone a female Samaritan.
This is an example of an illegitimate question. She’s not truly interested in the answer; she has ulterior motives.
But Jesus is not going to be embroiled in this particular rabbit trail. He keeps going with the initial priority. He replies, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.”
This seems to peek her interest a little, and she leaves off pushing her racial talking points. Instead she asks, “Sir, you have nothing to draw water with, and the well is deep. Where do you get that living water? Are you greater than our father Jacob? He gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did his sons and his livestock.”
Now, I believe that her question was legitimate. Why? Because Jesus answered it. It probably did seem strange for her to imagine asking a man with no way of collecting water to give her a drink. And since the well at which they were conversing was likely the only source of water in the near vicinity, and since this man was claiming to have water “living water,” it seems legitimate that she would assume that this man was somehow superior to the greatest patriarch in Israel’s history.
And Jesus rotates His priority ever so slightly by answering her question. But He still maintains His focus: “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”
He simply acknowledges that His comments had nothing to do with the well in front of them and everything to do with an entirely different kind of water.
This intrigues the woman and she appears to embrace Jesus’ priority. She says, “Sir, give me this water, so that I will not be thirsty or have to come here to draw water.”
But despite the fact that she seems to be engaging in the discussion God wants to have, Jesus knows that after laying this important foundation, there is yet another priority that must be addressed.
As a side note: in evangelism it’s so easy to rush to a prayer simply because someone shows interest in collecting the benefits of Christianity. But Jesus needed her to recognize her sin.
So, He rotates and says, “Go, call your husband, and come here.”
I believe her response is very calculated. She does what children often do — what we’re all tempted to do — she gives the answer that paints her in the best light. She says, “I have no husband.”
Jesus continues on His current trajectory with, “You are right in saying, ‘I have no husband’; for you have had five husbands, and the one you now have is not your husband. What you have said is true.”
Now, not wanting to continue down this path, the woman attempts to Revolve her own Priorities by complementing Him and then using that springboard into another racially charged, geopolitical argument. She says, “Sir, I perceive that you are a prophet. Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you say that in Jerusalem is the place where people ought to worship.”
But instead of staying with His previous priority to help the woman truly understand the desperate position into which her sin has dropped her, Jesus revolves His priorities to partially address the woman’s question, but to also refocus on His main theme.
He proclaims, "Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.”
This does it. He’s given her Truth from God and she knows it. She’s connecting the dots. Her next words prove it. “I know that Messiah is coming (he who is called Christ). When he comes, he will tell us all things.”
And all Jesus has to say is, “I who speak with you am He.”
Not long after the woman — forgetting her water jug at the well — rushed into town crying, “Come, see a man who told me all that I ever did. Can this be the Christ?”
This illustration shows us a perfect example of Revolving Priorities. Now, Jesus was not tempted to sin as we are. He wasn’t revolving His priorities away from sinful responses to God-honoring ones like we so often must.
But as you study this example you’ll see the following principles:
1. Keep your main focus on God’s glory. You may have to rotate your secondary priorities as you make your way there, but staying in The Communication House and pleasing the Lord must be your only goals. This will help you stay away from the internal temptations with which we all struggle, and it will guide all of your secondary principles.
2. Don’t be distracted by disingenuous questions designed to sidetrack you. What your children already know, and their tone of voice will be very helpful in discerning whether their questions are beneficial or not.
3. Use your children’s legitimate questions to further your main priority. Rotate your secondary priority to answer their question, but focus your answer in such a way to stay on track with your main priority.
4. Realize that when your child concedes a secondary priority, they may still not agree with the main priority. Don’t foolishly think you won the war just because a minor skirmish was surrendered. Jesus didn’t introduce Himself as the Messiah just because she said she wanted living water. He waited until she had understood and accepted His main premise.
5. Regardless of how many times your kids try to rotate the conversation in their direction, keep the tension between your main focus to glorify God and your secondary priorities that may or may not address their rabbit trails.
6. Understand that the first answer may likely not be the best answer. Your children may say “yes” when you ask if they cleaned their room, but you may have to ask follow-up questions to determine the Truth.
7. Keep the conversation in The Communication House. We have no evidence that the woman was ever unkind in her tone or words, but she spoke a number of inaccurate things. Every time Jesus clarified the Truth.
You cannot come to an agreement if everyone is believing different things. I always rotate my priorities when the person with whom I’m speaking says something that doesn’t match up with Scripture or reality.
Now, I know I’ve gone long today, but it was so full of good stuff.
I’m going to end by giving you a short list of common reasons you may have to rotate your priorities, but before I do that let me invite you to share today’s episode and check out our free episode notes at TruthLoveParent.com.
I know I can often cover a lot of information quickly. The notes are designed to distill the ideas in a way that will help you understand and learn them better. I hope they’re a blessing to you.
Okay, so here are some common reasons you may have to Rotate your Priorities:
I hope that list is helpful for you. Be premeditated. Be on the lookout for opportunities to rotate.
On our next episode we’re going to start a new series called “A Parent’s 5 Jobs.” I’m really looking forward to it. I wrote the curriculum for a family camp I did, and I’m believe it’s going to be very helpful for you and your family.
And I want to encourage you to like us on Facebook. This ministry is not all about me. It’s all about God, and — because of that — we frequently share parenting articles written by other people.
We recently shared an article from Desiring God called “To Be a Mother Is a Call to Suffer.” One of our listeners commented, “I am so glad I read that.” And another replied, “This is deep. I need to read [that] again.”
It’s all about applying God’s Word to our parenting in any way possible.
His Truth is the only thing that will give us any success in parenting.
So, to that end, I’ll see you next time.
8/26/2018 06:23:41 am
I came back to listen to this again and read through the transcript after listening to the "A Parent's 5 Jobs" series...so very helpful and practical. Evergreen material indeed!
8/26/2018 07:24:19 am
It delights my soul to hear that! Thank you for sharing!
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