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When Parents Act Like Fools

Updated: Jun 2, 2020

by Jordan Moore

I’ll never forget the time that my parents came into the living room acting like total fools. They were shoving each other, loudly calling each other names, throwing pillows, and even jumping on the couches. We had no idea what had gotten into them, but it quickly became apparent what they were doing. They were acting like me and my brothers. It was a teaching moment. As the peculiar scene ended, the point was made: why did my brothers and I think it was appropriate to do those things, when it was clearly immature for my parents to do the same?

A number of years later, as a youth minister, I decided to take a page out of my parent’s book. The amount of whispering, note-passing, and bathroom trips had increased during worship. It was time to encourage them to maturity, so I devised a plan. At the next youth devotional, I included the parents in the scheme. When it was time for the devotional lesson, some parents pulled out their phones and began scrolling Facebook, others passed notes, others whispered, some loudly laughed, and a few repeatedly got up to go to the bathroom. Needless to say, the scheme and the lesson were obvious. It wasn’t appropriate for the parents to act that way, so why did they believe it was appropriate for them?

Sometimes it’s required that you see outrageous behavior in others in order to see the error in your own ways. See King David and the message from Nathan (2 Sam. 12:1-7).

Recently I’ve witnessed my own children doing and saying things that are immature. It’s understandable and normal (as were the aforementioned accounts). Even the Apostle Paul said, “When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child but when I became a man, I gave up childish ways” (1 Cor. 13:11). In the next chapter, Paul encourages Christians by saying, “Brothers, do not be children in your thinking…[rather] in your thinking be mature” (1 Cor. 14:20). Those things that I’ve been hearing and seeing from my children are expected out of children, but unfortunately are often seen in grown-ups. Consider some childish phrases from my children that, while though they’re written in “baby speak,” are regularly spoken and acted out by full grown adults:

“How ‘bout me?” This phrase is usually said by my children whenever their sibling is getting the attention that they want. They are looking at and evaluating the situation with eyes and hearts that judge the moment as unfair and inequitable. Rather than considering the joy that their sibling has, they are putting their own desires above their sibling’s. Maturity, however, is having the mind of Christ that will “look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others” (Phil. 2:4-5) Do not immature adults often evaluate their lives through these same childish lenses? Instead of being genuinely happy and thankful for the blessings that others possess, far too many grown-ups throw tantrums about what they don’t have. As an adult, do you ever find yourself pouting and asking “How ‘bout me, God?”

“It mine! It mine! Not want share!” This phrase is the flip side of the previous coin. Even when they may have set the toy down hours ago, they still lay claim to what is “rightfully” theirs. The problem (as parents know) is that nothing that they claim as theirs is really theirs at all

– it belongs to Mommy and Daddy. Their childish perspective leads them to believe that because it was in their possession at one point, that it actually belongs to them. Fully grown adults understand this, but do we really act like it when it comes to our “big-boy toys?” “I work hard for my living! Why should I have to share with those in need when I pulled myself up by my own bootstraps.” We might not use those words, but do our actions communicate it? Because when we don’t share what we have – our money, our talents, the gospel – with others in need, we’re acting like children who’ve forgotten that everything belongs to the Father, anyway (Ps. 24:1; 50:10; 104:24; Job 41:11).

“Me do it!” While the motivation of independence and a desire to succeed is often behind the usage of this phrase (that’s good!), it’s often used in times where they truly can’t (or shouldn’t) do what they believe they can. This leads to pain or causing of damage to something or someone else. Self-dependence and self-reliance might be good for a business start-up, but they’re terrible for the Christian life. Fully-grown adults act like immature children when they believe they can do life on their own without help from other Christians (Heb. 10:24-25) or from God (Ps. 121:2; Phil. 4:13, 19; Matt. 11:28; Js. 1:5; 1 Pet. 5:7; Is. 40:31; Heb. 4:16).

Ultimately, all of these phrases are rooted in a selfish, “me first” mentality. If we want to grow up into “mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ” (Eph. 4:13), then let’s stop using childish phrases like, “How bout me,” “It’s mine,” and “Me do it.”

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