Your children need to see their life choices through God’s eyes. Join AMBrewster as he teaches Christian parents what it means to reinterpret life for their children and helps them take the first steps to becoming a better interpreter.
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Listen to the following episodes on Apple podcasts by clicking the titles.
“The Sufficiency of Scripture in Parenting” (episode 174)
“The Indispensable Parenting Tool Called Revolving Priorities” (episode 39)
“How to Rightly Debate Your Child” (episode 51)
“Are There Failure Philosophies in Your Home?” (episode 61)
“Discipline that Softens the Heart” (episode 89)
“Your Kids Need an Interpreter | helping your children navigate the world’s delusion” (episode 104)
“Why "Why" Is More Important Than “What" | asking the right questions to reveal the wrong heart” (episode 144)
“A Parent’s 5 Jobs, Part 3 | Interpreter” (episode 186)
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Welcome to part seven of the “How Do You Become" series where we're discussing how to take the first steps to being a more intentional, premeditated, disciple-making Ambassador Parent who teaches, interprets, counsels, and trains their children.
And today we're going to discuss the one that is probably the least intuitive of the bunch.
But before I explain why it’s the least intuitive, let me take a moment to thank Joshua for making today’s episode possible. Joshua is one of our monthly supporters. He, the other Patrons, and all of you who support this ministry with your prayers, finances, and by sharing it with others, are being used by God to help us extend our reach and give hope to more moms and dads who are looking for answers to the questions they face in their parenting.
And we’re able to do that because God’s Word has everything we need for our parenting.
This is reminding me of Season 7. I loved that Season; it was all about the awesomeness of the Bible and how we must use it in our parenting.
Episode 174 was called “The Sufficiency of Scripture in Parenting,” and I encourage you to listen to that show if you missed it the first time.
Also, be sure to subscribe to Truth.Love.Parent. so you don’t miss any new shows.
But Season 7 was all about how we could become an All-Bible Family. We also talked about the core of our Family Worship, and we unveiled the Parent’s 5 Jobs which makes up the second half of this series.
It was great, and — like I said — the beauty and majesty of God’s Word is what makes it possible for us to offer practical, relevant, useful direction for your parenting.
Lastly, before we move on, if this show has been a blessing to you, please Rate, Review, and Recommend us. It only takes a minute or two, but it makes a world of difference. I know there are a lot of you who haven’t yet hit that star rating, and I would be honored if you did.
Okee-doke, let’s talk about how you can be a better interpreter.
The first thing we have to do is . . .
1. Learn the Truth about being an Interpreter Parent.
You can learn more about this in episode 39, which introduces us to the indispensable tool called Revolving Priorities. This tool is a must-have in your Christ-honoring parenting toolbox. Now, I didn’t specify in that episode that this was a facet of interpretation, but it very much is.
Episode 51 helps you learn “How to Rightly Debate Your Child,” and episode 89 discusses “Discipline that Softens the Heart.”
Episode 61 asks “Are There Failure Philosophies in Your Home?” And then episode 104 gets even more specific with “Your Kids Need an Interpreter | helping your children navigate the world’s delusion.”
Then episode 144 discusses “Why ‘Why’ Is More Important Than ‘What’ | asking the right questions to reveal the wrong heart.”
And episode 186 talks specifically about the second of the “Parent’s 5 Jobs | the Interpreter.”
Each of those episodes is a mini crash course in learning to interpret the way God commanded.
Each of those shows is linked below and each of them come with free episode notes and complete show transcript to help you learn the material even easier. And — of course — each of the episodes is chock-full of biblical application.
But — before we move on — I want to talk about why this step is the least intuitive.
If we over-simplify the parent’s 5 jobs, we’d say that the parent needs to be an Ambassador. The other 4 jobs describe how we live that out, and it we over-simplify those 4 jobs, we’d say that the parent needs to teach their children what is right, teach their children what is wrong, help their children stop doing wrong and start doing right, and then train their child to continue doing right.
That’s the Teaching, Interpreting, Counseling, and Training Parents.
But, I believe that successful interpretation is more than merely teaching our children about wrong.
The Teaching Parent tells their children what is right and wrong, but the interpretation phase is different in two ways:
1. The Interpretation phase occurs when our children have already done wrong.
I can teach you that stealing is wrong even if you’ve never done it, but I only need to reinterpret life for you when you’ve actually stolen.
2. The Interpretation phase requires better argumentation skills and persuasion.
Merriam-Webster defines “argue” as “giving reasons for or against something,” “to persuade by giving reasons.”
The word “argue” does not have to denote sinful, explosive emotion and yelling. In fact, arguing is completely appropriate; it’s actually at the core of interpretation.
This is how it works:
I teach my child that stealing is a sin.
They decide to steal anyway because, at the moment of temptation, despite what they knew to be right, they decided to believe that they were right and God was wrong. They interpreted the situation, the Truth, and their options incorrectly. They believed that the sinful course would satisfy them and that the righteous choice would be unsatisfactory.
So, I discover that my child sinned. It’s not going to be enough to re-teach them what they already know. I’ve done that. I’ve read the verses; I’ve explained the concepts. Reminding is good, but they need something more.
So, during this stage I must help them reinterpret the situation. I have to ask good questions so I can understand why they did what they did. I need to understand what they were thinking. I need to figure out who else may have been involved; what other influences may have been at play. I need to understand their emotional state and determine what other factors including health and stresses and other environmental issues may have been at play.
Then I need to step them through the process and help them see how they should have thought. I need to reinterpret the situation for them.
This is far more involved than merely repeating to them that they should not steal. This is going to require that I be able to apply other commands and principles from God’s Word to help them see how they possibly shouldn’t have been in that situation alone, or how they shouldn’t allow those negative influencers to speak into their lives. But I also need to help them understand what was truly going on in their heart.
Let me give you one real-life illustration that just happened today.
The boys at Victory rotate through various weekly chores. One of the boys has been putting away dishes this week. This is not his first time, and yet every time he’s on dish, nearly every day, he’s putting something away incorrectly.
Now, it’s not that there’s always something different that trips him up, he’s not putting away the same things over and over despite being taught how to do it correctly over and over.
I think you guys may understand what I’m talking about. In fact, some of you may be thinking that I’m talking about your spouse.
Anyway, I called the boy downstairs and I said this: “I understand that the dishes are not important to you. Your main goal is to get done with your chore as quickly as possible so that you can go about your business. I also understand that you’re not deliberately trying to disrespect me. You may even have a hard time imagining how your dish chore could have any real impact on our relationship.
“But here’s the problem. When someone takes the time to communicate to you what they believe is important, and you — time and again — prove that you have no interest in actually paying any attention to their wishes, you’re communicating to that person that they don’t matter enough to you to try to do what you ask.
“So, this isn’t really about the dishes, it’s about the relationship. Every time you fail to put the dishes away correctly (now, keep in mind, he’s been trained over and over and the task is a very simple task given that we only have one cabinet for pots and pans, and I have an amazing ability to explain things ad nauseam) — every time you fail to put the dishes away correctly you’re actually telling me that you don’t care to do what I say. You’re more interested in doing what you want to do the way you want to do it.”
And I continued, “But, you know what, I said that the dishes really aren’t as important as the relationship, but I have to admit that our relationship isn’t the most important thing either. You see, how you treat me is only a tiny example of how you treat God. You enjoy the life He gave you, you eat the food and play the games and make your plans as to how you’re going to get as much comfort and satisfaction and enjoyment out of this life as you possibly can, but you give no thought whatsoever to God’s expectations for your life. He made you. He wants to have a relationship with you. He knows what’s best for you, but you’re going to do what you want to do they way you want to do it.
“And, in a much deeper and more profound way, the pain you cause God by not loving Him is infinitely worse than the pain you cause me by not caring to follow my instruction.”
Now, it’s not perfect, and I said a lot more than that, but that is the difference between instruction and interpretation. This young man was likely never going to consider the deeper relational impact his actions were having . . . he just wanted to be done with the dishes.
And your kids are the same way. They need your help to correctly interpret life.
Now, I took a long time with that. In fact, that may have been the longest first point of this series, but I needed to explain why this job is counterintuitive.
It’s more than just telling your child that they did wrong. It’s more than providing them pragmatic reasons that they should do what you say. It’s about helping your child view life the way God does.
That’s the first point.
2. We Need to Believe the Truth about being an Interpreter Parent.
Do you believe that this is how God would have you parent your children?
Do you believe that many of your children’s sins aren’t truly high-handed attacks on your personhood?
Do you believe that they are often not mature enough to realize the deep implications of their actions?
Do you believe that God’s Word has everything you need to help your children understand life and godliness they way He intends?
Do you believe this step is vital to ever being able to help your child correct their lives and build an enduring habit of righteousness?
If you’re still uncertain how important this step is, or if you’re doubting that this is really what God means when He says we should reprove our children, then please listen to the episodes I linked in the description. They are — by no means — perfect, but I believe you’ll find that we do the Scriptures justice.
Now, let’s discuss how we can get our accountability partners on board with this.
3. Get Some Help being an Interpreter.
As always, you and your friends, your parenting community, are going to have to be on the same page. Study this material together. Discuss it. Flesh it out. Look at the examples in Scripture where reproof was given and how the reprover skillfully helped the transgressor see their sin the way God did.
I recommend you start with II Samuel 12:1-10. Listen how Nathan the prophet helps David reinterpret his sin.
And when you understand the concept — and hopefully there are a couple older moms in the group who’re good at this and can offer guidance — then you need to star practicing it.
This is not going to come naturally. As I mentioned before, it’s already counterintuitive.
We’re quick to tell the child that they’re wrong, but we’re slow to help them understand it. We need to step our child from the Knowledge stage to the Understanding stage of the Circle of Learning.
And even when we do try to reinterpret the situation for our kids, our own sin natures get in the way and we help our kids see their actions through our eyes. We make it about our desires and expectations instead of God’s. We stop being Ambassadors and we become Dictators demanding they worship us.
Being able to truly help our children understand how their sin was against God is much more difficult. It’s going to take some practice.
I recommend that your dad-friends and mom groups try role-playing some examples. Intentional, premeditation requires purposeful planning and practice.
Have your friend think of a situation. It needs to be something more than “I lied to you,” or “I forgot to do my homework for the thirteenth time this week,” or “I run around the table at dinnertime instead of eating my food.”
Sure, that’s the presenting problem, but they’re going to have to be imaginative enough to come up with legitimate and age-appropriate answers to your questions and arguments to your admonishments.
Then you need to correctly interpret the situation for yourself. That’s uber important. If you aren’t viewing the situation correctly, you can’t be trusted to help your kids understand it.
And then practice drawing your pretend child back to Truth.
Believe it or not, this will help.
But there’s something else. It’s amazing how biblical and godly and spiritual and holy you’ll manage to sound when role-playing with your friend. You’ll be the consummate interpreter able to easily and effortlessly convince your pretend child that their choices were sinful and destructive.
But when you’re in the heat of the battle, and your child won’t sit down and eat their food, you may be very tempted to pragmatically demand they do what you say, and biblical interpretation goes right out the window . . . right along with being an Ambassador Parent.
So, it’s extremely important that your parenting community be around when you’re parenting. They need to witness it, be able to see it how you manage in the heat of the moment.
Now, this isn’t a fix-all, and your mentors and friends need to be wise enough to know that your performance under their watchful eyes will still likely be better than when you have no accountability, but it will be something, and it will be valuable.
This is also a super important reason that our spouses need to be able to speak into our parenting. They often see more of it than anyone else.
And, lastly, you need to give your parenting community the permission to be as blunt and critical of your performance as possible. You’re giving them permission to help you reinterpret your parenting in light of God’s Word.
But, we’re almost out of time, and we haven’t started our last point. So here we go.
4. Make Small Changes.
Now, the last point was actually full of very practical advice, but let’s talk a little more about what you need to do to become a better interpreter for your kids.
1. You need to be able to interpret your own life accurately.
Too often we’re the blind leading the blind. We’re trying to get our children to stop thinking about themselves so much because we’re sick and tired of them not thinking about us enough.
Commit to increasing your knowledge of God, understanding how it applies to life, and then putting it into practice.
Beg God for the knowledge, understanding, and wisdom to follow Him.
2. You need to premeditatedly go beyond teaching.
Teaching is important. You definitely need to be a Teaching Parent, but that’s not where we stop. So, the next time your children sin and need reproof, try this plan:
I know, I know, I know, it’s so much easier to yell, “Stop it!” from the other room. But that can barely be considered teaching.
At best, that simply teaches your kids that what they were doing is bad enough that it’s annoying mom or dad, and that they had better stop lest they get in trouble. You’re teaching your child to be selfish and pragmatic. You’re teaching them to interpret life in lieu of your desires and not God’s.
And, like I mentioned before . . .
3. Plan your response.
You know what your kids are want to do. You know exactly how they’re going to sin this week. And you probably know what the real hot-button issue is going to be.
I highly suggest you start preparing now. Get your Bible and start searching for references that deal with the issue. Collect a series of questions that will help your children understand their sin in light of the Scriptures. Build your parenting Bible.
It will come in handy.
And it doesn’t matter if it’s an earth-shattering teen crisis or toddler trouble. God’s Word is applicable.
4. Don’t dumb it down for the littles.
Your kids can handle it. God didn’t write a kid version of the Bible. They’re smart. They’re observant. They’re intuitive. They have faith that we can rarely understand. We need to stop treating them like they can’t grasp how God’s Word applies to their lives. They definitely can, the definitely need to, and they must start early building a habit of correctly interpreting life.
In their mind, you’re a terrible parent for making them sit down and eat their food. But they need to see it for what it is.
5. Make your commitment to be an Interpreting Parent visible.
That’s right. You clearly need some more decor in your life.
I won’t belabor this point today, but I will say that we’re working on something very special to help you with making your commitments visible.
I’m really looking forward to sharing it with you when this series is over.
In conclusion, we must remember that an Ambassador Parent is going to intentionally and premeditatedly attempt to disciple his children by teaching them what God says about the nature of life, and then when they choose to live opposite of God’s commands, they will attempt to help their children see their choices through God’s eyes.
Please share this episode, and join us next time when we discuss the first stseps necesary to becoming a Counseling Parent.
I’m really enjoying taking this journey with you, and I hope you’re inviting many others to take it with you. You can become more like Christ this year.
So, to that end, I'll see you next time.
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