I'm preaching my way through the book of Ephesians, and we've come to chapter 6. If you know this book, then you know this is the part about children obeying parents and parents not "exasperating" their children. We've had a lot of fun with this over the years. Because my children are mostly Biblically literate, anytime I would try to throw out the "children obey your parents" card, they would respond with "Fathers don't exasperate your children."
Now, before you get the impression that they are just a bunch of smart alecks, know that this only happens when we are having a little fun, never as a rude response to genuine parental guidance or discipline. But anyway...
In studying up on the idea of what it means to "exasperate" your children, I like the translation that says "do not provoke your children to anger." It has the idea of lording parental authority over those children in a way that leads to anger, bitterness, resentment. The key here, is that it does not in any way (I think) address the issue of embarrassing your children.
You see, I think it's a requirement of all good fathers to embarrass their children on a regular basis. In public when possible, but even at home is good. Maybe it's because I have a little growing up to do myself still, but I love to find ways to make my children let out a good "Daa-aaad!" Makes my day.
I'm looking forward to that opportunity tonight. Actually, I've been put on notice by my son not to do anything embarrassing, but, you know how that goes. We're going to hear my favorite Christian rap artist, Flame. He's coming to town as part of a worldview/apologetics conference which will be taught by a couple professors from Boyce College/Southern Seminary along with Marcus Gray (aka Flame). As a bonus, Flame is doing a concert tonight.
Now, I know that most ultra conservative, middle age, overweight white preachers are not rap fans, and even if they like some of the music, wouldn't make a spectacle of themselves at a concert. But then, most of those guys don't have my appreciation for embarrassing their children! Again, my 18 year old son has already issued me a warning...actually more of a plea: Please, Dad, don't do anything crazy! But hey, where's the fun in that??
Seriously, though. The threat of embarrassing concert behavior aside, I thank God every day that I have such a "fun" relationship with my kids. The older three are all in the "adult" category now (17 and over), and yet they all still show love, affection, and appreciation to their mother and me on a regular basis. We have an open relationship in terms of communication about anything and everything, and they are all growing into mature, godly young adults. In spite of me!
So, I may not have all the details of Ephesians 6 worked out perfectly. I'm sure there are times when I have indeed "exasperated" my children. There are times when my sinful, selfish self got the better of me and I may have abused my parental authority. But by God's grace, it hasn't led to my children being bitter, angry or resentful, and for that I'm truly grateful.
And since I know it's by God's grace alone that this is true, and that Christ is the only refuge in life, I'll let you enjoy this little number about resting in that grace by Flame, featuring Josh Reedy of Decemberadio. Me? I'll be warming up my "sick dance moves" for tonight!