#Fail- Parenting Fail Podcast Notes
Parenting is hard. Dave Barry once said, “The key to successful parenting is lowering your expectations. That is true. We make all kinds of mistakes as parents. We yell, we scream, we aren’t consistent, we get frustrated and angry, we get distracted by our cell phones, after a hard day at work we let TV babysit our kids.
Sometimes the mistakes we make, we make with the best of intentions. Let me tell you one such story. I found this in a book called “The 5 key habits of smart dads.” I’m not sure how this guy got in a book about smart dads.
The frenzy had begun just before Wayne arrived home from a three day business trip. Casper the hamster had somehow escaped from his cage. The kids guessed he was hiding under the couch. The couch was too heavy for Mom to lift, so it had to wait until Dad came home. Wayne had scarcely removed his coat before he got the whole story. So he stepped to the couch and raised one end so his daughter could look for Casper. There he was, alright. But he darted out of his hiding place and skittered across the living room floor. No one had noticed Samson trot into the room. When the black labrador Casper saw him he lunged at him and, with a snap of his jaws, killed the poor rodent on the spot. Horrified, the kids screamed and cried. Wayne yelled at Samson but it was of no use. Then, in front of everyone Samson proceeded to dismembered Casper. After Wayne comforted this crying kids he had a family meeting to determine what happened. Who played with Casper last. Who left the cage door open. Who didn’t close the back door so Samson could get in. Then the kids had a few questions. “Why didn’t Casper come to me?” “Why did Samson eat Casper?” Everyone gradually owned up to their responsibilities. It was at this time that the now docile Samson started gagging and then vomited the hamster at his children’s feet.
If you are a parent you’ve experienced failure. Sometimes it looks like this. You’re intentions are good and life just blows up in your face.
In some ways, those are the easy failures. Accidents and arguments happen. I have a feeling that there are parents here who have experienced failure in a different way.
Some of you have stood by and watched your child go through a hard time only to realize that the dark habit that is causing all the problems he inherited from you.
Some of you have watched your children make mistakes you didn’t think they would make and this is where your mind goes “What could I have done differently. How did I fail my child. How could I have better prepared her?”
Some of you have have had such a long patch of rough road with your child that they don’t want to talk to you anymore. It seems like every interaction ends with at worst, a fight, at best rolled eyes and annoyed responses.
In these moments you feel like a failure. In these moments you feel like you have blown it in the one area of your life that means the most.
I think I know why so many parents experience these feelings of failure. I believe we have a fundamental misconception of what our job as parents is.
I believe that as parents that we make a fundamental mistake when it comes to our hopes for our children and it is this one mistake that leads parents to most of their feelings of failure. Let me first clarify what I’m talking about when I talk about failure.
Have you ever asked a pregnant woman or a dad who’s wife is expecting this question. So do you know what you are having, only to have them say, “It doesn’t really matter as long as they are happy and healthy.” Have you ever had that conversation? I just want them to be happy and healthy. That sounds great. I’m sure I said that same thing. In fact, that has been what I would consider my goal for me kids. I want that for them so badly. Here’s the problem. No one is guaranteed happy and healthy. The bible doesn’t promise us happy and healthy. Good parenting doesn’t guarantee happy and healthy. Happy and healthy doesn’t build character. If that is your goal for your kids you will spend your parenting life with a strong sense of disappointment and discontentment. But that’s the goal we set for our kids.
As they grow older we expand on that goal. Our goal for our kids is simple. I want my child to grow up, do well in school, get into a good college, get a degree, get a good job and support themselves. Then they will be happy and healthy. Only one problem. I know lots of people who have diploma’s and good jobs and money and they aren’t happy. Some of them aren’t even nice people. We have to set a different goal for our kids.
Let me offer you some better examples of goals we can set for our kids
One goal for our kids is that they would learn to be content no matter what circumstances they go through
We should set up a goal that they grow and mature in their character
That they would be able to deal with life’s difficulties
We should set a goal that our kids will be generous and not selfish
That they would be able to somehow find joy amidst all of life’s ups and downs.
In other words, rather than hoping that they will always succeed and be healthy and happy, our goal should be that our kids would be able to fail and get back up. That they would be able to make mistakes and over come them. That they would fail forward.
Let me show you what that looks like in real life. Genesis 26
Isaac was forty years old when he took Rebekah, the daughter of Bethuel the Aramean of Paddan-aram, the sister of Laban the Aramean, to be his wife. 21 And Isaac prayed to the Lord for his wife, because she was barren. And the Lord granted his prayer, and Rebekah his wife conceived. 22 The children struggled together within her,
That’s not a good sign. They aren’t even out of her and they are wrestling with each other.
and she said, “If it is thus, why is this happening to me?” So she went to inquire of the Lord. 23 And the Lord said to her, “Two nations are in your womb, and two peoples from within you[c] shall be divided; the one shall be stronger than the other, the older shall serve the younger.”
Each of these twins would become a great nation. Jacob is considered the father of Israel. Later in the story is name is changed to Israel. Esau would also be given a new name. He was called Edom because he was a hairy redhead. The word Edom means sounds like the hebrew word for red. Esau would be the founder of the Edomites
24 When her days to give birth were completed, behold, there were twins in her womb. 25 The first came out red, all his body like a hairy cloak, so they called his name Esau.
I managed to find a picture of Esau for you. (Esau picture) Let’s take that down. Something you just can’t unsee.
26 Afterward his brother came out with his hand holding Esau’s heel, so his name was called Jacob.
Quick thought here for those of you who are considering Jacob as a baby name. It’s a good strong name. The name Jack actually comes from the word Jacob. So clearly it’s a manly name reserved only for the strongest and most athletic of men. But do you know what it means? Jacob means He takes by the heel, or He cheats. It can also mean deceiver. Just so you know, the pastor of your church is named “deceiver.” Do you know where he got this propensity to lie and cheat. His dad. If you look at Genesis 26 Isaac feels threatened so he lies and says that Rebekah is his sister and not his wife. By the way, women love that. When you deny you’re married to them. They think that’s great. Let’s keep reading
Isaac was sixty years old when she bore them. 27 When the boys grew up, Esau was a skillful hunter, a man of the field, while Jacob was a quiet man, dwelling in tents. 28 Isaac loved Esau because he ate of his game, but Rebekah loved Jacob.
Here’s the first sign we see of parenting trouble in the bible. Isaac loved Esau, Rebekah loved Jacob. The parents played favorites. Isaac loved Esau because he was a mans man. He was a hunter. He lived out in the fields. But Jacob was a home body. A mama’s boy.
Who here has more than one child. If I was to ask you which one is your favorite what would you say? Most people are smart enough to not answer that question. I love the way Brian Regan describes his kids. He’s a comedian and he comes out and says, “I’ve got two great kids. And another kid.” But he’s only joking. He only has two kids. Most of us are intelligent enough to not make comments like that so we think we are off the hook.
But here is an issue I see with parents. We parent them based on who we are, rather than who they are. We parent them based on what we want them to be rather than allowing them to be who they are. That’s a kind of favoritism. We want to influence them to do what we think they should do and become who we want them to become rather than allowing them to be who God has made them. We are drawn to the kids like us and we want to influence the other to be like us as well.
So dad likes Esau and mom likes Jacob. Then the drama starts. Look at verse 29.
29 Once when Jacob was cooking stew, Esau came in from the field, and he was exhausted. 30 And Esau said to Jacob, “Let me eat some of that red stew, for I am exhausted!” (Therefore his name was called Edom.) 31 Jacob said, “Sell me your birthright now.”
In Hebrew culture the first born got the birthright. That meant that when dad died he inherited the property and the money. He was then considered the head of the family. Esau was starving so Jacob thought he’d take advantage of this moment. Remember just a few verses ago God said to Rebekah that the older would serve the younger.
32 Esau said, “I am about to die; of what use is a birthright to me?” 33 Jacob said, “Swear to me now.” So he swore to him and sold his birthright to Jacob. 34 Then Jacob gave Esau bread and lentil stew, and he ate and drank and rose and went his way. Thus Esau despised his birthright. Genesis 25 (The word despised= to regard as worthless)
I really don’t think Esau took this seriously. My birthright for a bowl of Campbell’s hungry man stew. That will never hold up in court. And he’s probably right. Now jump forward. Look with me at a couple verses at the end of chapter 26.
34 When Esau was forty years old, he took Judith the daughter of Beeri the Hittite to be his wife, and Basemath the daughter of Elon the Hittite, 35 and they made life bitter for Isaac and Rebekah. Genesis 26
One of the goals I have for my healthy, happy kids is that they will find someone great to marry. Isaac and Rebekah missed out on this one. Okay, back to the birthright drama. Jump to chapter 27
When Isaac was old and his eyes were dim so that he could not see, he called Esau his older son and said to him, “My son”; and he answered, “Here I am.” 2 He said, “Behold, I am old; I do not know the day of my death. 3 Now then, take your weapons, your quiver and your bow, and go out to the field and hunt game for me, 4 and prepare for me delicious food, such as I love, and bring it to me so that I may eat, that my soul may bless you before I die.” 5 Now Rebekah was listening when Isaac spoke to his son Esau. So when Esau went to the field to hunt for game and bring it, 6 Rebekah said to her son Jacob, “I heard your father speak to your brother Esau, 7 ‘Bring me game and prepare for me delicious food, that I may eat it and bless you before the Lord before I die.’ 8 Now therefore, my son, obey my voice as I command you. 9 Go to the flock and bring me two good young goats, so that I may prepare from them delicious food for your father, such as he loves. 10 And you shall bring it to your father to eat, so that he may bless you before he dies.”
We don’t have time to read the whole story but Jacob does just like his mommy said. He stole his brother’s birthright from his blind father. He killed one of the sheep they had in their pen and gave it to his mom. He went so far as to cover his neck and arms with goat skin so when his dad touched him he would think it was Esau. And it worked. By the time Esau came back the birthright was gone. Look at verse 41
41 Now Esau hated Jacob because of the blessing with which his father had blessed him, and Esau said to himself, “The days of mourning for my father are approaching; then I will kill my brother Jacob.” 42 But the words of Esau her older son were told to Rebekah. So she sent and called Jacob her younger son and said to him, “Behold, your brother Esau comforts himself about you by planning to kill you. 43 Now therefore, my son, obey my voice. Arise, flee to Laban my brother in Haran 44 and stay with him a while, until your brother’s fury turns away Genesis 27
Jacob traveled over 400 miles to Haran to escape his brother. Like walking to Tucson. 17 and a half days walking 8 hours a day, 24 miles a day. Might have done it quicker because he was running for his life. Do you know how long the two brothers would be separated? 20 years.
This is one of the first families that we really have a chance to follow in the bible. This is the first time we get a glimpse into the inner workings of family and what do we find.
Jacob was a deceiver. He was a cheater. A liar. Traits he got handed from his father and his mother.
These parents played favorites. Openly. They didn’t even try and hide it
These brothers started out fighting and spent their lifetimes battling each other.
These parents didn’t like either one of Esau’s wives
The last word Isaac would hear from the mouth of his son Jacob would be a lie to steal his brother’s birthright
Immediately after this story Jacob would run to his uncle Laban who would deceive him and practically enslave him for 20 years
So much for happy and healthy. This family is one failure after another. Drama upon drama. We know more about the failure of this family than the success of this family. That’s what I love about the bible. It doesn’t just give you a bright and sunshiny picture, it tells the dirty secrets.
Listen, if you feel like a failure as a parent, it’s probably not as bad as this. At least you can say, “My family might be messed up, but at least it’s not this.”
Let me give you one more fact about this family. When God is described throughout the bible, notice how he is described. In Exodus 3 God comes to Moses in a burning bush and he says this.
“Do not come any closer,” God said. “Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground.” Then he said, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob.” Exodus 3:5-6
When Jesus came to earth and he wanted to identify who God was he said this.
Matthew 22:32 ‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? He is not the God of the dead but of the living.”
When the first Christians started to preach about who God was, they said this
Acts 3:13 The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God of our fathers, has glorified his servant Jesus.
Throughout this book when God is described, he’s described as the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.
Despite their failures. Despite their mistakes. Despite all the drama. When God chooses to identify himself he calls himself The God of Isaac and the God of Jacob.
I am the God of deceivers
I’m the God of cheaters
I’m the God of parents who play favorites
I’m the God of men who are separated from their brothers for 20 years
I’m the God of failures.
I don’t know about you but I find great peace in that. I don’t have to be a perfect person. I don’t have to be a perfect parent. Regardless of my harsh words and mistakes and hurt I’ve caused God will still be my friend. He will align himself with me. He will still love me.
For all of you parents who’ve failed out there, I think I can simply your goals as parents. I think I have something better for you to strive for. Something more realistic than healthy and happy. Do whatever it takes for your kids to know God.
Let me close with one more story in Jacob’s life. Let me set up this story. Jacob has finally gotten away from Laban after 20 years and he starts making his way to see his brother Esau. And he’s freaked out. He sends a group of messengers to his brother to tell him he’s coming. Then he sends out some presents to his brother. Then right before he gets to Esau this happens to him. Look at Genesis 32.
The same night he arose and took his two wives, his two female servants, and his eleven children,[e] and crossed the ford of the Jabbok. 23 He took them and sent them across the stream, and everything else that he had. 24 And Jacob was left alone. And a man wrestled with him until the breaking of the day. 25 When the man saw that he did not prevail against Jacob, he touched his hip socket, and Jacob’s hip was put out of joint as he wrestled with him. 26 Then he said, “Let me go, for the day has broken.” But Jacob said, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.” 27 And he said to him, “What is your name?” And he said, “Jacob.” 28 Then he said, “Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel,[f] for you have striven with God and with men, and have prevailed.” 29 Then Jacob asked him, “Please tell me your name.” But he said, “Why is it that you ask my name?” And there he blessed him. 30 So Jacob called the name of the place Peniel,[g] saying, “For I have seen God face to face, and yet my life has been delivered.” 31 The sun rose upon him as he passed Penuel, limping because of his hip. 32 Therefore to this day the people of Israel do not eat the sinew of the thigh that is on the hip socket, because he touched the socket of Jacob’s hip on the sinew of the thigh. Genesis 32
Jacob wrestled with God. In that moment the course of his life was changed. His name was changed from deceiver to Israel. Israel means, “He strives with God.” In that moment God changed the course of his life. He changed the course of an entire nation. The nation of Israel is named after this lying deceiver because God didn’t give up on him. Jacob’s life wasn’t about healthy and happy. He missed a lot of happy growing up and after he met God he left with a limp. But that day he found God.
Here’s what I think we need to pray for our kids. That they would strive with God. That there would be a point when all the hardships they have to go through would bring them to a place where they wrestle with God.
Honestly, my secret goal for my kids is that I would be able to keep them from everything that builds their character. I want to protect them from hurt, I want to guard them from bad coaches. I want to manipulate the system so they only get good teachers. That’s the wrong goal for our kids. We need to teach them to fail. We need to prepare them for rough times. And we need to pray that there is a moment when they wrestle with God.
We can all pray that.
If you don’t have kids, pray that when you do the hard times of life point them to God
If you have kids, don’t shelter them from everything difficult. Don’t settle for healthy and happy. Know hard times are coming. Pray that in those moments they wrestle with God
If you’re kids are grown and they don’t know God pray that this moment comes. That in the hard times you know they will encounter that they wrestle with God. That in those are times God gets a hold of them.
Be thankful for healthy kids. Praise God for happy. But let’s set a different goal for our kids. Let’s pray that they strive with God and that God wins.