Column: Circumstantial Evidence

Glen and his wife left their teenage son at home while they took a vacation. They arrived home a day early to find a full-fledged keg party going on.

Bonnie’s daughter, Caroline, shares her bedroom with a live-in boyfriend.

Marshall has a son on crack cocaine.

Which of these parents would you want in a position of leadership? The answer, I hope you immediately said, would depend on the circumstances. Glen and his wife are wonderful parents who have faithfully taught their son, Max, through their own lifestyles and through their faithful involvement in church. They were horrified to discover a drunken party in their residence.

They not only let Max verbally know how angry and hurt they were by his behavior, they grounded him from all extracurricular activities and hauled him down to a nearby mission where the entire family spent the next month doing volunteer work. By the end of this time, Max had seen enough of what alcohol had done to the mission’s residents to cause him to re-think the whole issue of drinking.

Bonnie’s 16-year-old daughter, Caroline, moved her boyfriend in one night, telling her mom that his parents had kicked him out. When Bonnie protested, Caroline threatened to run away with her boyfriend. “What can I do? She’s all I’ve got,” Bonnie shrugged.

Lucas was 9 when his mom died, and Marshall has done his best to play the role of both parents. Marshall had worked with Lucas’s church youth group and even had taken up golf so that he and Lucas could spend Saturdays on the courses together. He’d prayed for Lucas, counseled him, disciplined him and hauled him to counseling and treatment, but the drug problems continued. Marshall has forbid Lucas to live under his roof as long as he’s involved with illegal drugs.

It’s a matter of looking at the whole picture. It’s kind of hard to feel sorry for someone who stands with their hand on a hot stove yelling, “It’s burning! It’s burning!” When a person allows or even encourages a sinful situation, he or she is a part of the problem.

While Max’s parents continued to love their son, they also let him know that his bad behavior wouldn’t be tolerated. Bonnie, on the other hand, had let her daughter manipulate her into allowing a situation that definitely was not God-honoring. Marshall had done his best to raise his son in a manner pleasing to the Lord, but Lucas had chosen to take a different path.

So, who are these folks? Well, Glen is an associate pastor whose son now serves as a minister of music. Bonnie was a Sunday School teacher who was asked either to get control of her household or step down f rom teaching. She resigned. Marshall is a state director of missions. Lucas is now drug-free and active in the prison church while he serves a two-year sentence for possession of stolen property.

Anytime we accept a position within the church, we are opening ourselves up – and rightly so – for greater scrutiny and accountability. How does your household management qualify you for His service? It’s all about the input. What are you investing into your family?

“If anyone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he take care of God’s church?” (I Timothy 3:5, HCSB).

This article was originally published on April 5, 2005.
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Judy Woodward Bates is a freelance writer, author, speaker and creator of Bargainomics, a Bible-based time and money management philosophy, and the author of “The Gospel Truth about Money Management.” Visit her website at www.bargainomics.com.