Generation Cedar

I heard it again…quite a typical comment about grown children of large families:

“She was the oldest of six and felt like her mother required too much of her….so she doesn’t want many children.”

Size of family debate aside…the issue here is not the number of siblings or the work load, but rather a fundamental lesson of the Christian life that the parents failed to transmit.

The conclusion that “I had to work too hard...” does not echo the perspective of a follower of Christ.  The first misunderstanding is that life is somehow not largely about work.

“And that ye study to be quiet, and to do your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you;” 1 Thes. 4:11

The second one is that even if a work load is heavy, and even if I have a perceived sense of “suffering”, the Christian response to that is opposite the statement above.

Listen closely:

“…We also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.” Rom 5:3-5

Aside from an abusive parenting situation, which is NOT what I’m talking about, we have an obligation to teach our children what God’s Word says, which is counter-culture to all the messages around us.  Period!  Our primary responsibility as mothers, hands down, is to raise children who see every part of the world through the lens of Scripture, not through the lens of what we think feels right or seems right.

Had this young lady been bathed in the truth of God’s Word, she would have seen her Savior’s example and longed to follow it.  Jesus’ life was one continuing pouring out of himself physically, emotionally and spiritually.  He lived to be spent and then He told us to copy Him.  There were short reprieves, yes, but probably not as much as we get each night when we sleep for 8 hours at a time.

Americans enjoy the highest level of luxury, freedom and entertainment on the planet.  I submit that it’s tremendously difficult for a Christian living here to even vaguely identify with the life and suffering of so many disciples of Jesus.  In the early days of Christendom, it was a good day if you survived it.  What’s more…

“The apostles left the Sanhedrin, rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for His name.” Acts 5:41

  • Am I raising my children to whine about some work load they have, or am I raising them to delight in being used up for Him?
  • Am I teaching them that “to save your life you must lose it?”
  • Am I reading about and pointing to the heroes of the faith for them to emulate?
  • Am I teaching them to “do hard things” and rejoice in it?
  • Am I demonstrating, by my life, that serving is a privilege?
  • Am I framing their worldview through the lens of “esteeming others better than himself?”

Let’s not raise victims of hard work.  But through joyful, consistent reminding, let’s teach them to count it a privilege to daily serve those around them!

“Mallie (3 yrs. old), you did such a great job folding that towel neatly!  Are you doing your work ‘as to the Lord and not unto men’?”

23 Responses

  1. What a great post! Thanks for making me think about this. I have heard that too many times myself and didn’t really take the time to see how it would effect my family. Going to put these verses on 3/5’s for myself:-)

  2. If I whine about all the hard work I have to do, my kids will pick up on it. I think it is so important to model this to our kids as well. More is caught than taught. Great post! I love what you said to cute little Mallie. I will try to remember to use that with my boys.

  3. I love this!!!

    We would do well to remember Lamentations 3:27- It is good for a man that he bear the yoke in his youth.

    A precious promise from God’s word! Working while young is a “good” thing. It makes the child feel like a productive member of the familial society. I wouldn’t be surprised if that poor misguided young lady didn’t feel that way until outside sources lamented on her behalf. Our sinful natures all love a good pity party!

    Another point we mothers should bear in mind is that God does the saving and despite our best intentions, our children may not be among the elect. It’s heartbreaking to think of it, but He is Sovereign and we just need to stay the course regardless of the perceived failures of others. We’re still required to keep His commandments even if it *seems* that obedience didn’t produce the intended fruit in the life of another believer.

    For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.1 John 5:3

    There is such fallacy and no faith in the argument that we shouldn’t obey because of what happened to so and so.

    Off topic- I posted details from an email I received yesterday morning regarding an online women’s mentorship program hosted by Victoria Botkin coming up in a few weeks that I thought that you and your readers might be interested in if you haven’t heard about it yet:

  4. Excellent post! I hear that comment from others about big families. (We are a family of 3 total so they must think I agree with them). I always point out that they are raised to love their families, not despise them, so it is most likely enjoyable and pleasurable to serve their siblings. What Christians should be worried about is the families where sibling in-fighting is not just considered normal, but expected and tolerated. How can our kids ever learn to walk in love as adults (which would cover complaining about hard work) if they are not trained to die to self as children? Have we not learned the end results of our own “me” generation? Must we create a me X 10 one?

  5. Thank you! This was a great encouragement. What a difference it makes when we are able to consider our work a privilege and not a drudgery, for the sake of Christ who saved us from death to do good works!

  6. Brilliant post – thank you Kelly! To be honest, I struggle with *my* attitude to work. It’s good to be reminded that work is natural, and whilst the fall has made it more difficult, it is there as a way in which the Lord can refine us.

    On a completely unrelated note, I thought you and your readers might like this – A baby born to a woman after 18 miscarriages! How lovely!

  7. I’m the oldest of seven, and while I did plenty to help the family out I never felt like my burden was too heavy. Many hands make light work.

    On the other hand, I know several people who were also oldests or older girls and did have far too many responsibilities, especially compared to how much their parents did or the other kids did and it did affect how they saw things. And they are hard workers, not afraid of it, it doesn’t have anything to do with loving or hating servitude for them. They felt taken advantage of, and for good reason-they were.

    I agree that we should raise our children to join joyfully in the daily and hard work of life, but we also must be careful not to pawn off our own responsibilities or give them reason for resentment (in accordance with the scriptures!).

  8. “Jesus’ life was one continuing “pouring out” of himself physically, emotionally and spiritually. He lived to be spent and then He told us to copy Him.”….I need this reminder as I seem to be aggravated at wasting my time on stuff around here…..ouch!

  9. Wonderful! Great reminder to check my attitude and what example i am setting for my children. love those verses…blessings, jen in al

  10. (somewhat in relation to what Mrs Taft said) i agree that there are OCCASIONALLY times when an oldest child has to much set upon them (i have seen this happen with friends, and it was the case with my mother… she was even made to get a job and give her paycheck to her parents at 15, on top of caring largely for her sisters and the home, which cause her to put her schooling on the shelf, she slept very little and was ill often as a result.. but that is an extreme case, i know)… but sometimes it might be ‘psychological’… an oldest child often feels the most pressure to be ‘perfect’… perhaps a child who feels overworked is trying TOO hard to make everything exact? not that i have kids, so i know i can’t talk much, but maybe if those are the cases, do you think emphasising EFFORT over perfection is important? the only perfect works are His after all 😉 just my addition… great post kelly!

  11. This was a great post! My eleven children are being raised daily to work hard along side me. My goal is to raise “Soldiers for Christ”. As the bible reminds us, we are in a war!
    My husband is a missionary and we have lived on a foriegn field and visited many others. We have seen the lives that christians live in these contries. We have seen their willingness to sacrifice and suffer for the cause of our Lord. As “American Christians” we are all so wealthy and spoiled and addicted to ease, pleasure, comfort and entertainment(my self included). If we and our children could comprehend how blessed we are here, even our poor are so wealthy compared to most of the world, we would not fuss at our “work load”!
    The additude of “poor me” I have so much work, I’m being taken advantage of is not from the Lord, it is sinful pride and should be addressed as such.
    The issue is not how much work our children are doing but making sure we balance it out with the same amount of love, praise and appriciation for their efforts.
    Thanks for the great post!

  12. What a great post. It actually opened my eyes on my behavior, on all the times that I whined and complained, that I have such a hard load to carry and how unfair life is. Thank you so much for opening my eyes, to be a servant of Christ and to teach my children the same.

  13. I agree with what has been posted about work and our attitude toward it. One point that I think has been missed entirely is that God created work to be good. The reason we can know that is Genesis 2:15 says, “The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.” Yup- God created work and set Adam to it as a good thing before the fall of mankind.

    I have a different question, though- is it so much a question of “too much work” that really turns kids off from wanting the Lord’s blessing of children in their own lives? I have a large family and am learning over and over again, “to whom much has been given, much will be required” (Luke 12:48). It seems like the preferred negative outcome (sort of an oxymoron there!) would be children turned off from the prospect of their own expanded family because of a heart attitude (as addressed in this article), than because of mismanagement/poor parenting from their own parents.

    The latter issue seems more serious in terms of our own responsibility as parents. This is when the older children are expected to grow up too quickly in order to attend the duties of taking care of and even parenting younger siblings. I observed this as a young teen, when I saw the oldest daughter (younger than myself) of another family in charge of taking several younger siblings through a food line, while her mom sat and talked. I know another person who was given a lot of responsibility for her younger siblings as well (helped to raise them), and I think these are more likely the situations that might turn a child off from desiring his/her own children.

    Either way- we are accountable before God- like the servants with the talents. We are accountable for what we teach or don’t teach (including that work is good and we work as unto the Lord, not unto men), and we’re accountable for how we parent- actively and passively.

  14. I have a similar sense as Mrs. Taft on this one. I think that we as moms should remember that we’re not raising our children to run our homes for us…we still need to be in the game and know the state of things. I, too, have seen the distorted side of the whole “working hard” thing (it’s still important…but must be carefully balanced). How has the Lord gifted my children? Am I balancing helping them learn life skills and contributing to the family along with developing their gifts and talents for the glory of God? It’s all so individual and comes down to a heart issue. Seek to know your child’s heart and really hear them!

  15. I don’t consider myself a perfect parent, but one thing my husband and I have instilled in our daughter is the satisfaction of doing a job well no matter what it is – cleaning a room, repairing something that is broken, writing an excellent essay or doing her best at her job. It has paid off, and she has had many wonderful opportunities because people notice that she has the ‘soft’ skills of reliability, patience, perseverance, and the ability to take direction without complaining or arguing. I know that she will have an advantage in her chosen career field because of these qualities. Children need good role models with what I call ‘the get up and get to work’ gene.
    They need to be shown that doing your best at even the most menial of tasks has its own reward.


  16. Great thoughts and this article links well with the one about “mom guilt.” We guilt ourselves when we feel we don’t have an organized enough chore chart or that our kids STILL complain when they are asked to help out around the home. We guilt ourselves when we ask them to do more than so-and-so’s family. We compare our family to “that” family, worried that our kids are lazy and not motivated enough.

    I sense our job is to teach and show our children that work was meant to be a good thing; something that we give our best to, as unto the Lord. But we should also recognize that even in doing that, our children will have to come to this belief on their own, not because we pride ourselves in working hard. It’s not about our works, but our attitude and heart behind them (and I’m certainly still learning this lesson!!!!).

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