A Patient Parent
Glynnis Whitwer

"Don't be misled—you cannot mock the justice of God. You will always harvest what you plant." Galatians 6:7 (NLT)

One of the most damaging choices a person can make is to give up too soon when faced with a failure. I see this in children all the time. A child doesn't make the sports team in junior high, and gives up before his body has a chance to develop. Another stops singing because she doesn't get a solo in the school play, and her voice hasn't reach maturity. Children face "failure" in many ways, and discouragement can hinder their spiritual growth and potential. How can a parent help?

There's a biblical principle parents can apply when helping a child overcome failure and explore their potential. Galatians 6:7-8 says, "Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life" (NIV).

Paul used the analogy of planting to explain the principle of spiritual growth. He encouraged his readers to sow into the things of God, with the promise they would reap the things of God. In the life of a Christian we sow into God by how we think, speak, our actions, where we spend our money, and our time. These are investments in a God-honoring life, which reaps a harvest of blessing – but not in the same season. There is always a delay between sowing and reaping.

What if we considered our children's hearts and lives as a garden? The principles of sowing and reaping apply as well. Every day we sow into those "gardens" through our words, behavior, and the disciplines we teach them. However, just like a vegetable garden, if we plant carrot seeds, we will reap carrots – not corn. Consequently, if we sow negative seeds of discouragement, we will reap despair. If we sow seeds of impatience, we will reap frustration. If we sow seeds of laziness, we will reap stress.

Conversely, if we sow healthy seeds of good choices, we will reap self-discipline. If we sow seeds of patience, we will reap peace. If we sow seeds of perseverance, we will reap success. Our children's hearts are rich soil prepared by God to receive good seed. As conscientious gardeners, we need to plant those that will reap a harvest in our children's lives and prepare them for service in the kingdom of God.

What if you don't see results right away? That's normal. After a few days, the farmer doesn't get frustrated with slow growth and rip the seeds out of the ground. No. The farmer continues to water the soil, shoo the birds away, and pull the weeds. The farmer protects the seed until it has a chance to grow in its own time.

God designed our children to grow and flourish with love and care. However, failure can be the weeds in our children's lives. Weeds don't destroy the good seed, they just leech the nutrients out of the soil limiting the growth of the plant. Failure doesn't destroy our children's potential; it just removes the enthusiasm from their hearts.

In order to overcome the pain and heartache of failure, children need a parent who will step in with fresh water and bright sunlight, while replacing the weeds with healthy seed. With this tender care, perseverance and self-discipline will grow and develop. Then in time, our children will produce a harvest of confidence. May we be gardeners who don't give up until the harvest.

Dear Lord, I praise You for Your almighty power and wisdom. Thank You for making me with potential to grow and change. Help me to see that same potential in those I love and to become a gardener of healthy seed in their lives. Help me to see failure as something to overcome, not stop me for a live of obedience. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
When Your Child is Hurting by Glynnis Whitwer

Visit Glynnis’s blog

Mining for Gold in the Heart of Your Child Character Chart by Renee Swope

Application Steps:
Identify one character virtue you would like to sow into your life, or your child's life. What do you need to sow in order to reap a harvest of that virtue?

Why is perseverance such an important Christian virtue? When you have failed in the past, what have people done or said that was most helpful?

Power Verses:
Isaiah 40:31, "… but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint." (NIV)

Philippians 1:6, "… being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus." (NIV)

© 2010 by Glynnis Whitwer. All rights reserved.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

How hard it is to keep praying for one who has gone astray. My daughter is 38. She's currently in jail and on her way to prison for a year on a felony conviction, probation violation and a failed drug test. I brought both my daughters up in church and tried to teach them to follow the Lord. Obviously, I failed with one of them. I have tried to reiterate my love to her while letting her know I can not approve of her choices. When I read verses such as today's about reaping what we sow, and in Proverbs 22:6 that says "Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it"; I have a hard time. I tried to train my daughters according to God's word and tried to live a Godly life in front of them. I still failed.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for your timely words. My child is currently struggling in middle school. Her grades are great, but the stress of the social aspects are so hard on her. I try my best to help her and encourage her, but sometimes the whining and complaining can grate on my nerves. I have noticed that she does sometimes try my suggestions, after mulling them over for a time. I definitely needed to hear your encouraging words and be reminded how important my work as a mother is. Even though it can be frustrating and sometimes feel like we are not getting through to our children, we must persevere and pray and trust that God loves our children even more than we do. Next time I'm listening to her whine about going to school in general, I will picture your gardening analogy and get to the specifics of what's really bothering her. Then I will try to remove that weed and gently and lovingly nourish her back to good health. Thanks again! Have a blessed day!

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for this devotion. Some friends and I were just discussing this very issue yesterday. So how timely a devotion. I think it is so easy, especially in this culture of immediacy to expect our children to be changed immediately. Parenting is hard. It's much easier to give in, but the fruit will not be there. As it takes time for fruit to ripen, so it is with the raising of Godly children. If God gave up on us as quickly as we may be tempted when we don't see immediate results in the discipline & raising of our children we'd be in hell.

Blogger Kelsie said...

To the Anonymous mother of the 38-year-old, God is faithful. (1 Cor. 10:13.) He has his purposes in what your daughter is going through. You must trust Him. And Proverbs 22:6 - don't look at it as a promise; it's a warning. Just because you're a believer and raise your children to follow the Lord doesn't guarantee their salvation, sadly. But the warning is that if we let our children go in their own way (sin and destruction), they'll continue in that path.
My hope and prayer for you is that God is working out His perfect plan in your daughter's life. She may need to be brought to her knees in humility before she can look up to Christ as her Savior. (I encourage you as one who has unbelieving family members.) Don't give up hope!!

Blogger Glynnis Whitwer said...

I would like to add my encouragement to Kelsie's eloquent comments. I don't think a mother has "failed" if her child chooses a wrong path. Adam and Eve sinned and they had the perfect parent. We live in a sin-filled world, and our children are born with a desire to go their own way. Moms need to make sure their own lives are submitted to Christ fully and continue to pray - especially with other moms - for those children who are far from God. Sometimes being brought to their knees is the best thing for them.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

As the first anonymous comment mentioned, I want to give you a word of encourgement. I was brought up in church and my mom trained me up in the way I should go. However, at the age of 16 I ran away from home (I did eventually come back). At the age of 18 I moved in with my boyfriend and lived together for 9.5 years and during that time, I used drugs, lost everything and felt completely hopless. For the next 10 years I serched for something to fill my life. Then finally at the age of 38, I felt the Lord tugging at my heart to come to Him. I made the choice at that moment to follow Jesus. Now at the age of 44, I have been serving Him and seeking Him each day. He has blessed me with 2 kids, 11 & 9 a wonderful husband and it was all due to a mother who never stopped praying and who trained me up the way I should go.

You didn't fail, just like my mom didn't fail. I failed to listen to her and hold fast to my upbringing. But all the while when I was doped up or just hopless in life, I knew there was a God that I needed to turn to, but just didn't for whatever reason.

I pray your daughter will hear His calling and just like I was, I am sure that she knows that there is a God and will never forget the training she had.

His ways are not our ways and since I have been a part of the Jail and Prison ministries at church, I am sure that there is a group that goes in to minister and perhaps she will turn her life over to Him there.

Don't give up. My pastor said before, that there are no dissapointments with God.

Blogger Mellie said...

WOW, great stuff. Love the devo and the encouragement. Thank you for I too am facing the same things of the anonymous mother of the 38 year old. My difference is my daughter is only 24 she has three children and is not in jail yet. I have raised he in church her whole life and at times I am very discouraged. I have to know that she has a mind and will of her own and this is no reflection on me, no matter how much if feels that way. God is good all the time and all the time God is good. She will come around. I trust God with that and until she does God will care for me.

Blogger Jan said...

I loved this devotion. I have two sons, ages 32 and 29. The eldest is in Federal Prison (9 yr sentence)and the youngest just went into jail and will serve a State Prison sentence, (7 yr sentence.) I was a Single Mom and it has been very difficult. I was about ready to give up on my youngest as he got me evicted from one apt last year and has almost got me evicted from my new apt.
I now realize that I cannot give up on him. Both boys got involved in meth and it is straight of the devil. I didn't take them to Church regularly when they were kids; we went about once per month. I have a lot of guilt about many things but I need to let that go and keep positive and keep praying for my boys.
I am 57 and now I can finally get some much needed peace and tranquility that I have been seeking for years.

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