Grant Lovell AME Church Moberly, Missouri
"Children Don't Grow Like Trees"
“Children Don’t Grow Like Trees.”
The Word of God says, “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it,” Proverbs 22:6.
Each time I hear that, “These children today are different,” or another pervasive statement, “Parents need to listen to their children,” either the Bible is wrong, or we are wrong. I was at a clergy meeting last week when I heard the two statements made by pastors. Since then, the Holy Spirit will not leave me alone until I write this article.
God placed children in the care of parents, to care for them, nurture and teach them how to navigate the world. Parents lay the foundation of Christian faith in their children. That is an assignment from God. The Bible did not say children are supposed to train their parents. God forbid! God’s divine order is for parents to teach and educate their children. In this process, parents teach their children how to respect them and other adults as well. When parents teach their children respect for adults, these children learn respect for themselves by learning about the limitations of behavior. By so doing, they learn to respect authorities. They also learn that the “Fear of God” is the beginning of wisdom. All these should have been attained at home prior to the child’s arrival at church.
Children are not like trees by just watering and watching them grow. Children require more than that. They require our attention, food, shelter, clothing, a loving relationship, and parental instructions. We must walk their journey with them until they can walk on their own. Be there at the teachable moments, pray with them, and conduct Bible studies at home including weekly family devotions. Engage and pray with each child individually. Tell them Bible stories and the lessons learned prior to the time they are able to read. Engage the family in Bible story discussions. By the time the children are walking into the door of the church, they are highly motivated to learn more about the Bible stories taught to them by their parents.
When parents fail in these responsibilities, they come up with the idea that children today are different. No! Children today are no different from children born over 100 years ago with body, soul, and spirit. The only difference is the society they are born into with different things thrown at them that may be difficult for them to handle if not instructed. This is like a person taking a new job and having to first be trained for better job performance. Parents’ job is not only to help the children build their Christian foundation as a solid frame of reference but also to help them navigate the hazards of everyday living. In the absence of a Christian foundation and parental instructions, teaching them right or wrong, society will teach them the wrong things to the future detriment of these children. This does not mean some of the children will not lose their ways. However, during painful moments in life like the Prodigal Son's Story, they will know their way back home to Christ.
Let’s be reminded, we are the generation of the Baby Boomers of the hippies who rebelled against authorities, wore long hair, long-bearded, torn blue jeans with patches, engaged in free love, smoked weed on the college hallways, partied every Friday on the college campus, and got drunk until some of us passed out. We stripped naked called streaking in the 1970s and ran around in defiance of society’s norm of wearing clothes in public. The same generation of the Woodstock Party in 1969 for three days and partied with drugs and alcohol until some of the youths went crazy singing in the rain butt naked! We also lied to ourselves that TV violence has no effects on the children sitting next to us on the sofa while watching the same indoctrination into violence. Sadly, the results of the fruits we are seeing in our children’s generation are the fruits of the trees we planted years ago. It’s bitter, but the truth! So, while we are blaming this generation of young folks, we need to look into the mirror. Who planted the trees of which fruits the young ones are currently feeding?
God gave the responsibility of training the children to their parents, NOT the church. The church can help by strengthening the foundation already built at home by the parents. When parents failed in first building the Christian foundation in their children, they started to blame the church. It is not the job of the church to train the children. The responsibility of the church led by the pastor and church leaders is to strengthen the Christian foundation already built by the parents prior to the children arriving in the church without milk bottles or diapers.
Danger: The rise of after school Satanic clubs is gaining ground across the nation in elementary schools, including the indoctrination of your children into perversion. While Satan is after the souls of your children from primary schools, where is the Christian clubs not increasing in primary schools? While we are sitting in the church and saying these children today are different Satan in grabbing their souls. Are we going to build their christian foundation from home, or let the devil do it?
The idea of “Parents Listen to Your Children,” being propagated today is as if the children are supposed to train their parents. This is a false narrative and unbiblical. Perhaps when people are advocating for such is with the intention, not for children to teach their parents, but for parents to engage their children in conversation. However, the way things are playing out today is the emerging trend that old folks are stupid and their children have to teach them about life. Consequently, children learn to disrespect their parents and seniors while acting as though having knowledge means wisdom. No matter how much knowledge children have acquired, they do not have the experiential wisdom of their parents nor do they have the Spiritual wisdom of God to operate from. As an old African proverb says, “No matter how rich a child becomes, he will never have enough money to buy his parents’ rags.” Meaning, a child may be rich in material things and even information, but does not have the experiential wisdom of his parents. Sadly, this slogan, “Parents Listen to Your Children,” is manifesting in a way where children not only insult their parents including the seniors, but they also walk away from Christianity after entering college. Disrespect for adults has been the constant complaint of some seniors even within the church.
If you give a young person a large sum of money without prior training in how to handle money with discipline, that money will eventually destroy that child of yours. Jesus gave us the clue in the story of the prodigal son. Meaning, building Christ’s foundation in children with Biblical principles very early in life, based on stories in the word of God is a key to their life survival. Young people coming to church and refusing to listen to the scripture being read, or sermon being preached is indicative of a lack of Christian foundation already constructed in those children. They have no frame of reference to compare the scripture or the sermon. At times being in the church irritates them because they can only relate to the world they live in with their cellphones, social media, friends, and video games. In these youths, there is no hunger for Christ because they have never been fed with the word of God. Sadly, some of these youths live in homes where their parents do not know God. Shockingly amazing when a mother grounded his son from coming to church as a punishment! Grandmother comes and takes the grandchildren out of service because she wants to take them to dinner. Mother decided attending a birthday party or going to a ball game on Sunday morning is more important than coming to church.
If the Sunday Sacred hours of worship are not important to you as a Christian. If you will rather spend those hours feeding your fleshly desires. it's time you question your salvation. Are you truly born again? Reports are coming out to reveal many people who call themselves Christians inside the church do not live a Christian life because the lure of the world and physical desires tend to dominate and control our lives. May the Lord help us.
How do we expect our children to react or take church or sacred hours on Sunday seriously? We forget, as parents, we teach our children based on what they see us doing than what we tell them. Action speaks louder than words and attitudinal behavior delivers an impressive message than spoken words. Children are born with empty plates or slates. Parents are responsible for filling their slates with learning tools needed for their survival making the word of God a priority.
The message to young Pastors is for them to learn to respect the seniors in the church and not to act as though they want the adult members of the church to bow down to them. If you disrespect the seniors, your children will disrespect you as well. Action speaks louder than words. Watching this scenario manifests in the church is interesting when a young preacher acts as though because of his education and position, he has the right not only to denigrate older members and other pastors working with him but to place them under his control. This type of behavior should be vehemently discouraged in the church because it eventually leads to cultism and a violation of God’s divine order and can be very dangerous.
A leadership position does not imply that those working with you are under you, or that you are better than them, or you are a ruler and everybody has to agree with whatever you say. If you respect the seniors in your church, you will find little difficulty in getting their support, even for your new programs. A person in a leadership position is not a king sitting on a throne. Leadership is merely an administrative position and should be carefully administered not to distance the members. If you lead the way properly in humility, people will follow. Just because a person trains in the ministry in your church does not mean that person is beneath you. As a person in an administrative position, you may administer, but you are NOT a king. Learn to respect those church members older than you.
For young preachers placed in a position to teach others, be careful not to over-impose your style on others. Teach and let the students pick which style or direction they will choose. Just because a person does not choose your style does not mean the student is wrong. Higher education does not confer “Wisdom of the Age” to you. Wisdom of the age is obtained from the divine Mantle given to each person called to preach. It is unwise trying to conform the divine direction of an individual person to your own cognitive instructions. Through pride and arrogance and cognitive excitement, a teacher is goaded to believe he is right all the time to the point of belittling other people’s points of view or positions.
Even Jesus warned about such behavior in the church when he said in St. Matthew 20:25-27 “But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them. But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister. And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant.”
By so saying Jesus was warning his disciples about the danger of cultism that has destroyed many lives today. When some people refuse to use their brains, some cult leaders will use their brains for them through soul seduction.
When a pastor becomes an autocrat, the church becomes very dangerous! That’s the moment sensible members should find an exit. Paul Mackenzie Nthege, the leader of a cult, was arrested after police received a tip-off that his vast land on the Shakahola forest in the Kilifi County of eastern Kenya, contained mass graves. In April 2023, about 130 bodies have been recovered by May 10, 2023, and more are still missing from a so-called Christian cult where a leader asked the people to starve themselves to death so they can meet Jesus. False Gospel!!!
"For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ.
And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light." II Corinthians 11:13-14
The human mind can be very fragile. God gives us freedom of choice. Even God did not take Satan’s power away. Why should we allow a person who calls himself a pastor or a leader of any organization to take away that power of freedom God gives to man as a gift?
The moment you notice anybody or a pastor trying to use mind control to manipulate people, immediately distance yourself from the person. Run as fast as you can! Psychological mind control is a form of witchcraft. This is a dangerous game some pastors play today to the detriment of themselves, family and their members. Witchcraft is being controlled by demonic spirits, not by the Holy Spirit. Jesus came to set us free from the bondage of the devil. That is why he said, “He that the Son of man set free is free indeed,” St. John 8:36.
Bamboozling your way through events and important issues without giving opportunities for other people’s opinions is a dangerous practice in the church. When a leader or a pastor in the church continues to do this, sooner or later, the person will lose his or her divine mantle. Once the mantle drops off, attaining divine destiny becomes very difficult for such a pastor or a leader. The divine mantle governs a pastor’s assigned purpose and direction with spiritual encouragement and power. Once the mantle is gone, instead of a leader depending on the Holy Spirit, he is depending on human desires, and power which eventually opens demonic doors. When the “Infra Dignetatem Syndrome” starts to manifest in a preacher when he acts as though, he has all the answers and all other people are below him, it’s a sign the preacher has lost Christ-like direction. Many preachers who left Christian ministry did so because they lost their divine mantle leading them to lose their way, or they never had one, to begin with. The divine mantle of a pastor or a Christian leader is given to each person called by the Lord to serve in his earthly ministry vineyard. If you are a pastor and you have lost Christ-like direction, you can still reclaim your divine mantle in repentance and humility before God and man.
Most leaders who dominate other people do so because they suffer from low self-esteem and are insecure. Controlling other people is a way they use to bandage the emotional pain of an absentee mother or father or a role model. The danger is not so much that they learn to dominate others, but keeping people in bondage and the abuses that follow such behavior. They act as though they can do whatever they want without anybody challenging them. They present themselves as being humble in reality, they are not, based on their actions.
There is a Great Danger in Disrespecting Seniors. When Prophet Elisha was being mocked and insulted by children, what happened?
23 From there Elisha went up to Bethel. As he was walking along the road, some boys came out of the town and jeered at him. “Get out of here, baldy!” they said. “Get out of here, baldy!” 24 He turned around, looked at them and called down a curse on them in the name of the Lord. Then two bears came out of the woods and mauled forty-two of the boys. 25 And he went on to Mount Carmel and from there returned to Samaria. II Kings 2:23-25.
When Samson refused to listen to his parental instructions, it opened the door for Delila to destroy him. Samson surrendered the secret of his power at the temple of his lustful desire. It destroyed him – Judges 16:1-31.
When President George Bush Jr visited his mother’s house, he placed his feet on the coffee table. When his mother saw it, she instructed him to take his feet off his coffee table. President Bush’s father said to his wife, “For God’s sake Barbara, he is the President of the United States.” Barbara Bush responded, “I don’t care who he is, I want his feet off my coffee table!”
If Barbara Bush; the mother of George Bush Jr. told his son; the President of the United States to remove his feet from her coffee table, do you think being a pastor of a church with a collar around your neck in a black robe gives you the audacity to disrespect people old enough to be your parents? Something to ponder over including what Jesus said about no lordship in the Christian ministry - St. Matthew 20:25-27.
The Word of God instructs that we respect the Gray-haired.
I Timothy 5:1-2 “Do not rebuke an older man but encourage him as you would a father, younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, younger women as sisters, in all purity.”
Job 12:12 “Wisdom belongs to the aged and the length of days understanding.”
I King 12:6 6 And king Rehoboam consulted with the old men, that stood before Solomon his father while he yet lived, and said, how do ye advise that I may answer these people?
Ephesian 6:1-4 Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right. 2 Honor thy father and mother; which is the first commandment with promise; 3 That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth. 4 And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.
Leviticus 19:32 “You shall stand up before the gray head and honor the face of an old man, and you shall fear your God: I am the Lord.”
I Peter 5:5 “ Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”
When we violate God’s divine order, there are painful consequences that will follow. Seeing this curse manifest in the lives of other people can be very painful to watch, even in the Christian Ministry.
Young folks, it is true, not all parents lay good examples for their children due to abuse in some homes. God still instructs the children to respect their parents and all those who are older than them, except if they asked you to do the wrong thing.
Children Don’t Grow Like Trees means, parents have the first responsibility to train their children while they are still feeding on bottles and wearing diapers and build a solid foundation of Christianity within them. Children in turn are supposed to listen, obey, and respect their parents and seniors, with no exceptions. Subsequently, parents are supposed to engage their children in conversations.
Yes, none of us is perfect. We all learn to kneel at the throne of grace of Jesus Christ in subdued humility. May the Lord hear our prayers - Amen. Just remember the old saying, "Quitters never win and winners never quit."
"I can do all things through Jesus who strengthens me," Philippians 4:13.
Rev. Victor Vidal, Pastor Grant Lovell and Bethel AME Church, Moberly and Macon, MO.
Author of Closer Walk with Jesus
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