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Dad, I want to Manage My Own Life!

That’s what my 5-year son said to me a couple of years ago.  I couldn’t believe it.  I knew he felt that way but to hear him say it set me back.  I wasn’t sure how to respond.  On one hand, I was very proud.  You see I was raised to be independent and I am raising my son the same way.  I want him to be able to take care of himself.  As he puts it I want him to “manage his own life” on the other hand I don’t like the feel of my leadership being spurned.  It is offensive to love someone as much as I love that boy and then have him try to throw off my tyrannical rule because I asked him to clean his room.  What is a dad to do?

There is a story in 1st Samuel where the elders of Israel came to Samuel and asked Him to give them a king like the rest of the nations around them had.  Samuel was the last good judge of the nation and he had set his sons up as judges but they were not like Samuel.  Samuel was apparently offended and felt like the leaders were rejecting him.  But God spoke to him and reminded him that they were not rejecting Samuel but rather were rejecting God.  You see in Israel, the Lord was the king.  And frankly I think that God was tired of their attitude.  Listen to the exchange in 1 Sam 8:6-9 (NIV).

6 But when they said, “Give us a king to lead us,” this displeased Samuel; so he prayed to the LORD. 7 And the LORD told him: “Listen to all that the people are saying to you; it is not you they have rejected, but they have rejected me as their king. 8 As they have done from the day I brought them up out of Egypt until this day, forsaking me and serving other gods, so they are doing to you. 9 Now listen to them; but warn them solemnly and let them know what the king who will reign over them will do.”

After Samuel explains to them about what kind of burden that having an earthly king would place on them (especially in the area of conscripted labor from their sons and daughters) they rejected the advise of Samuel and rejected the King of kings.

 19 But the people refused to listen to Samuel. “No!” they said. “We want a king over us. 20 Then we will be like all the other nations, with a king to lead us and to go out before us and fight our battles.”  21 When Samuel heard all that the people said, he repeated it before the LORD. 22 The LORD answered, “Listen to them and give them a king.”

So God gave them just want they wanted.  He gave them a king just like the rest of the nations.  And I am sure that He was a little sad.  I think I know how He felt (just a little bit).  The love that a Father has for a son is a sacred thing and for the son to be disconnected is a disheartening thing.  I am talking here more about how I spurn the leadership of my Heavenly Father than Josh challenging my leadership.  I am glad that the Lord doesn’t throw me off like an old shoe.  But rather, He continues to beckon me.  I know there are times in my life where He has given me what I thought I wanted even though He knew that it would cause me great pain.  That’s what good dads do.  They let their children drink in enough of life travail to give them wisdom but they stand closely by and don’t let them drown in their own ignorance always hoping and praying that their sons and daughters will return to their senses.  

I think I will wait a while before I make Joshua fend for himself.  He has his whole life ahead to “manage his own life”.  For now he is going to have to deal with a dad who is committed to train him in the way of the Lord and who is hoping and praying that when he grows up he will be a man of substance.  I just can wait to hear him tell about his kids wanting to “manage their own lives; I know my mom and dad love reading this article.  Cause I was just like my boy growing up.  I wanted to manage my own life.  In fact that is one of my biggest issues even today.  My way or bust!  A lot of times my ways are the “bust” way not necessarily the “best” way.  I will enjoy reading his blog post someday.  But for now we need to focus on getting our toys picked up.  I know there is a carpet under there somewhere.  I love being a dad.  I really, really do!


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