I remember a time when Luke was in his mid-teens that he asked us for permission to attend his first "secular" rock concert with some of his friends. He had earned our trust over and over again through his growing up years and I distinctly recall the intuitive impression, in that particular moment, that this decision, and how it would be made, was somehow critical in our developing relationship. Terri and I had bought into the concept that it was important to extend to our children progressive freedoms and opportunities to make some choices and take some risks that were not necessarily our preferences for them. And...that they would experience this liberty while they were still living at home...even if it was a mistake...of the "non-life threatening" sort, of course. The "rubber was hitting the road" and testing this conviction that day.
We were conscious that, in short order, our teenage kids would be out from under our roof and would then be confronted with an amazing degree of freedom and we didn't want that dynamic to be overly shocking to their systems. (Through the years, we both had seen really good kids "go crazy" after suddenly leaving home environments where they had been "hovered over" by fearful and overly-strict parents.) We wanted them to cultivate their personal conscience before God, who is the only Person who sees us and is with us 24/7. The ironic thing about the extra-biblical taboos that religious groups often develop and impose, it that they, in the end, actually stunt the growth of personal conscience rather than strengthen it. We all know that our faith is not essentially a "code" or a long list of "do's and don't's", but a vulnerable and personal relationship with a Friend who indwells us...as well as with One who dwells in the transcendent and eternal beauties of deep heaven. There are appropriate times to allow our growing children to sharpen their judgment, discernment and conscience by exercising their gift of choice in the sight of God and not in the "sight" of their parents. They need to be confronted by and discover for themselves that God is a "living" God who hears their cries for help, delivers them from temptation and provides direction. If they would fail to make wise judgments in this environment, then loving parents would be there, on the scene, to help, counsel and even restore them in the aftermath.
It turned out that we gave Luke the freedom to make his own choice that day, even though we let him know that we weren't excited about him going. (I can't remember who the band was or why we didn't really endorse the event.) He did go and it didn't harm a thing! There were other similar situations after that, when he chose to lean into our advice...but he really appreciated the freedom we bestowed on him and, I believe, respected us all the more as a result. Great relationships are always built on trust, affection and respect. In the end, God has used Luke's exposure to all kinds of music to enhance and develop his own musical talents and he is now a professional guitarist, recording artist, producer and teacher of the craft. He is presently the lead guitar player for Mandisa. They tour the country and have been on Good Morning America three times in the last year!
A VOICE OF HOPE
Michael Sullivant's Blog
I am a child of God, husband, father, grandfather, spiritual father, author, speaker and hope coach.