One Saturday morning years ago, my then six-year-old daughter Leticia begged me to make her some pancakes for breakfast. Her mother and sisters were gone for the morning, and she was stuck with me as the cook. My cooking skills being what they are, I pleaded with her, “Please, Leticia, couldn’t you just eat cereal today?” She persisted, so I obliged.
Half asleep, I read the instructions incorrectly and the end product looked unfit for human consumption. I asked her again to please eat cereal instead. She again staunchly persisted.
This time the oil in the pan caught on fire! I knew it was not going to be a good day. (We later had to repaint the blackened spot the fire left on the ceiling.)
“Please try again, Daddy,” Leticia implored, making good use of her big blue eyes. How could I resist? I decided just to ignore the instructions. This time, without following the recipe on the side of the box, I began to mix together milk and eggs and any other ingredients I could find that I thought might work. Amazingly enough, the concoction looked edible. With a prayer of thanks, I slid the golden pancakes onto a plate, drenched them in lots of syrup (which I did not, thankfully, have to make) and placed them in front of my ever-patient daughter.
Leticia took one bite of my freshly made pancakes, looked up at me with a mixture of despair and disappointment and said, “Daddy, may I have cereal, please?”
Today, I meet people throughout the Body of Christ who have given up on the spiritual parenting they long for because complicated and unpredictable situations arose in previous spiritual parenting relationships. Sometimes spiritual parents—and spiritual children, too—find themselves in discordant relationships and quit. It’s not that the spiritual parents or children did not try. Perhaps they misread the scriptural directions and the relationship flopped. Or maybe a spiritual child was parented by a spiritual parent who sought to control rather than encourage. Yet giving up entirely on all spiritual parenting relationships because some do not work out is like throwing the baby out with the bathwater (or like never eating pancakes again because of one little house fire).
The Lord is a great Redeemer! He wants to heal our hurts, and He wants to help believers recover what Satan has tried to steal from them. Every relationship experiences rough patches. Friction is unavoidable in spiritual mentoring. To learn about a few simple guidelines that can keep the friction to a minimum, read my new book, “The Cry for Spiritual Mothers and Fathers”