As I continue through the Harmony of the Gospels, I’m struck by the early life of John the Baptist. The Bible is full of reminders in every season of life, but reading about the birth and childhood of John spoke to me right where I’m at, as a young mom. It all culminated in this verse:
And [John the Baptist] grew and became strong in spirit; and he lived in the desert until he appeared publicly to Israel. Luke 1:80
John the Baptist was “strong in spirit”, also called “spirited” in other translations. It’s so hard to be thankful for children with a strong spirit, isn’t it? But God knew what he was doing when He gave John that strong spirit.And He knew what He was doing when He gave your kid a strong spirit, too.
John was kind of a weirdo. The way he dressed, what he ate, how he lived. But he was also a faithful servant, and he had an amazing ministry. He was chosen by God to pave the way for Jesus! Pretty outstanding if you ask me. He needed that strong spirit, that unshakeable constitution, to do the ministry God had set out for him.
God created my child, on purpose (flaws and all), to do good works He “prepared in advance.”
My little guy is just beginning to show us his personality. It’s easy to get frustrated when that personality becomes inconvenient or difficult for me. But when I remember John the Baptist was spirited, it tempers my frustration.
Maybe God knew what He was doing? Maybe the traits I find annoying in this toddler will be the cornerstone of a Godly man? Maybe a strong spirit will be just what he needs to serve God well?
This gave me incredible hope as my toddler screeched at me again and again and again over lunch. Maybe those lungs will serve God faithfully one day? I just pray I have the strength to guide him. To teach him to use his lungs for God’s good work, rather than piercing my ears.
I’m not absolved of responsibility just because God gave him a strong spirit.
Parents have a responsibility to teach, to guide. The Proverbs tell us…
“Listen, my son, to your father’s instruction and do not forsake your mother’s teaching.” Proverbs 1:8
Well then, I better teach him something worth remembering! I need to teach him and guide him so his God given traits can become a blessing to himself and others.
But the first step is my vision of him.
I need to have a vision for what good could come out of his most exasperating personality traits. Because if I don’t see it, how will he?
John the Baptist is a good reminder for this young mom that God creates each child different, but still equipped to serve Him and His Kingdom. Even spirited children can become great men and women of God.
How do you deal with your spirited child? Can you envision his/her difficult traits serving him/her well as an adult? Can you envision those traits as being useful in service to God? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.