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What is Your Focus as a Parent?

Written by Dianna Wiebe on .

What is Your Focus as a Parent?

What is your focus when it comes to parenting? Parenting is hard. Long days, short nights, and trying to keep a healthy marriage between dishes, diapers, and hormones. Discipleship is easy to lose sight of when we are in the trenches of daily parenting.

As a mother of four grown children, I understand! We had four children in 39 months, and I remember thinking many times when they were young, “Am I ever going to do anything besides feeding, diapering, cleaning, and then repeating it all over again in a few hours?” Can you relate?

Before I knew it, I turned around and my toddlers had turned into teenagers. Through a series of miracles, my husband and I were able to take our teens to Israel on an educational tour. It forever changed our lives, but it also helped us as parents to renew our focus on teaching and training our teens in the few years we had left with them.

Today, I want to share with you something we learned in Israel that helped us as parents, to remember the goal of parenting.

Two Methods for Planting an Olive Tree

It was a hot day in August as we toured in Israel. One of the first things you notice in Israel is the olive trees. Olive trees grow everywhere, and they are planted in orchards, but also in unusual places.

According to Israeli law, olive trees represent ownership of the land, so if you own the tree, you own the land. One day our tour guide talked about the different philosophies behind planting olive trees in the land of Israel.

Our guide explained that there are two methods of planting olive trees:

Method 1 – The Average Farmer

  • Cut a shoot from a live tree
  • Place it in a hole dug for the new tree
  • Watered and fertilizer
  • Let it grow
  • Watch for fruit

Method 2 – the Jewish Farmer

  • Cut a shoot from a live tree
  • Take the tree into a nursery
  • Water and fertilize the young tree under the watchful care of the gardener
  • When the plant is strong enough, transplant it
  • Tend it after it is planted to ensure it is healthy
  • Watch for fruit

Our guide then stopped and said, “Any questions?”

I asked, “What is the difference between the two trees in the end?”

He paused and said,

“The quality of the fruit.”

I don’t know about you, but I was instantly inspired and convicted at the same time. What kind of trees are being grown in the garden of my home?

  • Am I taking the time to nurture the young trees that God has planted in the garden of my life?
  • Do I take time to see to their care both physically and spiritually?
  • Will they be strong when they leave my home and able to stand alone?
  • What kind of fruit will they produce?

Self-examination is never easy, but it helps us to see where we can improve.

What Kind of Tree Am I?

  • How was my faith planted?
  • What kind of tree am I?
  • Was I quickly planted and left to figure out the faith?
  • Or was I discipled in such a way that I was equipped and able to disciple others?
  • What kind of fruit is showing in my life?

Once you determine how your faith was planted and the fruit of that planting, it is important to determine what kind of tree farmer you want to be. What kind of parent do you want to be and where do you want to focus as a parent?

What Kind of Farmer Do I Want to Be?

I think we all want to imitate the planting method of the Jewish farmer.

1.   Be alive. Our children watch and learn more from what we do, than what we say, so let our actions and words be full of life.
2.   Tend those in our nursery. As parents, we oversee the spiritual lives of our children. We teach them, and then we bring in others (Sunday School teachers, VBS teachers, grandparents, etc) to help support our efforts to disciple our children. Are we actively monitoring their progress?
3.   Watch and Water: Are we watching for spiritual growth in our children and watering their spiritual lives?
4.   Plant: When our adult children leave our homes we want them to launch encouraged and equipped to live their faith. What do we need to do between now and then to reach these goals?
5.   Pray: Regardless of the age of our children, we pray for them. Once our adult children are on their own, we continue to have the privilege of praying daily for them. As they begin their own “tree farms”, our words of encouragement and prayers continue to water the next generations.

One day, when we meet the Master Gardener, He will look at the fruit we have grown in our lives. It’s essential to think about how we have used the time He gave us. Have we produced good fruit? Let’s strive to hear those encouraging words, “Well done! Good and faithful servant.”

If you’re still raising children, I hope this story inspires you to stay focused on disciplining and guiding the next generation. And if your kids are already grown, may this story be a source of encouragement as you pray for other parents in your life. Together, let’s nurture and grow the best fruit we can!

May God bless all your tree farms!

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