The lady had briskly left her seat about midway in the center section of the church pews and had taken her nine year old son by the hand and removed him from his seat on the front row. At first I thought her action meant on the spot punishment for the boy or at best his longest reprieve would be until she got him out the front door of the church.
My assumption concerning the woman’s intentions proved to be one hundred percent wrong. Her anger was not directed toward the boy she was now leading out the door of the sanctuary: it was toward me. The unmistaken evidence of this was not only the icy stare she had given me as she had glared at me behind the pulpit but also her verbal outburst as she walked out the door. “No one is going to talk to MY child like that!”
My words had triggered this incident in the packed church where I was speaking. I had performed several feats of strength and was about eight minutes into my message when it became absolutely necessary to speak to the group of boys on the first pew concerning their conduct. They were progressively getting out of hand and beginning to disturb the entire service. The apparent leader of the misbehavior was the lady’s son who was offended by my mild scolding, which went something like this: “Fellows, settle down. Remember you are in the Lord’s house.”
I am always reluctant to correct young people in the audience, because I know there is a possibility that it will be embarrassing for their parents or the audience as a whole. Regardless of my feelings in this matter, if we were to continue the worship service, my reprimand was necessary. When the woman retrieved her son and chastened me with such a fiery tongue lashing, I realized a direct rebuttal from me was essential in order to salvage the remainder of the service. I knew there was a possibility that the other boys’ parents might follow the outraged lady’s example, which would destroy the entire evening. After a two second prayer for guidance, I said, “We can protect and even rescue our children from situations brought on by their misbehavior when they are small and the transgression is minor, but, we cannot deliver them out of a prison when they grow up.”
Now came the critical time. What would be the congregation’s reaction to my remark? Would they all walk out? Could I expect a silent and “zombie-like” audience for the remainder of the service? No! I immediately heard several loud “amens” from all over the building and the rest of the evening was “spiritually enthusiastic,” to say the least.
As parents, we need to know how other adults see our children. Other adults are not blinded by the love and protective instinct we possess. By listening to the way teachers, coaches, spiritual leaders, and other interested adults see our boys and girls, we will be better equipped to guide and direct them.
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