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INSIDE STORY: Why it takes a church family to raise a child

My 17-year-old son, Brady, and I celebrated his high school graduation by making a three-hour drive down Interstate 35 and going to see our beloved Texas Rangers play.
We sat eight rows behind home plate one night and 10 rows behind first base the next afternoon.
“I have the best dad ever,” my son wrote on his Facebook page.
Dad hits a home run!
Honestly, though, I have struck out way too often in raising this incredible young man. On too many occasions, I have been too distracted, too short-tempered, too selfish.
As Brady prepares for the next stage of his life, I pop straight up in bed and wonder if I have done my part to fulfill Proverbs 22:6: “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”
Fortunately, I have not had to raise my firstborn child alone. I am blessed with a remarkable Christian wife. Tamie is, in many ways, everything I am not: nurturing, patient, focused on the tiniest details of our three children’s lives.
Yet she, like me, is far from perfect. If we were the only influences in Brady’s life, I am afraid he would not have grown into the fine young Christian he has become.
“How do those who aren’t Christians and don’t have their faith or a spiritual family get through times like these?”
You hear well-meaning people say that all the time when individuals endure a health crisis or grieve the tragic loss of a loved one. The same rings true for parents.
If it takes a village to raise a child, how much more does it take our heavenly father and a church family to raise that child in faith?
And how do parents without that spiritual support system keep their sanity through the sleep deprivation, the decision-making and the unqualified love that we pour into our children each day?
Brady is first and foremost God’s child.
As his 18th birthday approaches, I can’t help but think of the Sunday school teachers who helped teach Brady about Jesus from his earliest days. I can’t help but think of the Leadership Training for Christ coaches who worked with him on song leading, Scripture reading, sermon delivery and even puppets. I can’t help but think of the youth ministers who organized Bible studies, mission trips and service projects.
I can’t help but think of people like children’s ministry director Brenda Gordon, minister Kent Risley and many others at our home congregation — the Edmond Church of Christ in Oklahoma — who never missed an opportunity to greet Brady with smiles and hugs and make him feel extra special.
I can’t help but think of the elders at the Greenwood Church of Christ, the rural congregation near Decatur, Texas, where my father, Bob Ross, ministers. The Greenwood elders gave Brady his first opportunity to preach. And they keep inviting him back!
As Brady dons his cap and gown, I can’t help but thank God for the wonderful Christian family — serving Jesus all over the world — that he has given all of us.
I’m writing this the day before the Edmond church honors its graduating seniors. That’s probably a good thing, as I’m not certain I’d be able to type for the tears if I waited until the elders presented Brady with a Bible and prayed for him and his future.
I’m so proud of Brady as he prepares to enter Oklahoma Christian University, his parents’ alma mater, and pursue a double major in preaching and youth ministry. Yet Tamie and I know that he’s going to face many obstacles.
Seldom, if ever, is ministry easy.
My wife and I don’t want to see Brady hurt by the world. We especially don’t want to see him hurt by the church.
“I think about Samuel’s mother, Hannah, and wonder if she had the same fears,” Tamie said. “I think about Elizabeth, raising a child she knew would go out and proclaim Jesus and baptize many in his name. And, of course, I think about Mary. All were women of deep faith, unwavering trust in what God had in store for their sons. Surely I can allow him to use mine for his plan, too.”
Tamie and I pray that God will watch out for our child — his child — as Brady endeavors to serve him.
“I have the best dad ever,” Brady said.
Indeed, he does. Just not the one he was talking about. Praise God for that.

Bobby Ross Jr. is Managing Editor of The Christian Chronicle. Reach him at [email protected].

  • Feedback
    Powerful testimony. I hopped on twitter this morning and found this article. I identify with the author (except I’m a single parent). The members at my congregation, especially the men, have stepped up in ways I did not expect! All glory to God our Father. This is what we do for one another 😀
    Southside church of Christ in Richmond, CA
    Berkeley, CA
    June, 12 2011

    Great Article. We would be so in the dark about so many things when it comes to our children if we did not have Proverbs 22:6.
    Thank you for writing experience.
    Cornell RG Harris
    Winning Edge Ministries
    N. Augusta, SC
    June, 10 2011

    Great article and neither David nor Jacinda told me about it…I just found it the e-mail update. I share your sentiments as our second daughter just graduated from high school. We are blessed with four amazing children who have already accomplished great things but when we receive compliments about them I try to give God the praise because he has provided so many teachers, ministers, famiiles, camp counselors, directors and members to encourage our children as we have moved from Kansas to Oklahoma to Texas. Most importantly God has given us grace as imperfect parents. Parents expose your children to their church family!
    Molly Heyen
    Memorial church of Christ
    Houston, TX
    June, 6 2011

    Thank you Bobby. I also worry about the hurts we all receive from our own. I hope we can receive them as the wounds of a friend meant to help steer us in the Way. I fear sometimes they will be wounds inflicted by those wanting to steer us in their way, but even those wounds come from brethren whose hearts are right.
    Mark coleman
    Edmond church of Christ
    Edmond, Okla
    June, 6 2011

    Appreciate your comment, Jacinda!
    Bobby Ross Jr.
    The Christian Chronicle
    Oklahoma City, OK
    June, 4 2011

    David Duncan suggested I read this article as he felt it was “my kind of thing.” He was right! I love the relationships my children have with other Christians in our church family, as well as the past relationships from other places we have lived. I work in the Memorial church office on Thursdays, and my 2 year old, Ellie, goes to the church preschool. One of my favorite things about those days is when we arrive early & Ellie plays in David’s office with him hanging on her every word & request. Also, on Wednesday mornings, Ellie tags along with me to their house for Bible Study that Barbara leads. I love seeing her climb all over Barbara as she leads our study. Perfect example of what you’re talking about!
    Jacinda Shanks
    Memorial Church of Christ
    Katy, TX
    June, 3 2011

    Thanks for sharing, Kim!
    Bobby Ross Jr.
    The Christian Chronicle
    Oklahoma City, OK
    June, 3 2011

    Great article and so very true. And I love, as my son gets older, the relationships he is making with the men in the congregations. He learns so much from them. I love beig able to raise our sons in a family of faith. We each lift each other up when we fall. God is great, and greatly to be praised!
    Kim Ledingham
    Riverchase Church of Christ, Birmingham, AL
    Alabaster, AL
    June, 2 2011

    Sounds like a wonderful focus for a class. Thanks for sharing, Maggie!
    Bobby Ross Jr.
    The Christian Chronicle
    Oklahoma City, OK
    June, 2 2011

    I am teaching a class for Mother’s and Grandmother’s, “Raising Children in the Lord”. I believe the church family is one of the most important things in a child’s life,as you do. I think for children to remain faithful they have to learn to love the Lord’s church as they are growing up. I thank God that my children had wonderful church families as they grew. Thank you for writing this. I plan on sharing it with my class.
    Maggie Walker
    Church of Christ- Nederland Ave.
    Nederland, TX
    June, 2 2011

    Thanks, Lisa!
    Bobby Ross Jr.
    The Christian Chronicle
    Oklahoma City, OK
    June, 2 2011

    Bobby, you hit a home run with this column. Thanks for sharing this with your readers. There is much to ponder here!
    Lisa Brewer
    Wilkesboro Church of Christ
    North Wilkesboro, NC
    June, 2 2011

Filed under: Inside Story

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