Tuesday, December 1, 2009


I've been fussing.

As I continue my reading in the book of First Samuel, I am troubled (again) about the sons of Eli, and now those of Samuel. How is it the boys raised in the shadow of such mighty men of God could become so incorrigible?

And the LORD said to Samuel: "See, I am about to do something in Israel that will make the ears of everyone who hears of it tingle. At that time I will carry out against Eli everything I spoke against his family—from beginning to end. For I told him that I would judge his family forever because of the sin he knew about; his sons made themselves contemptible, and he failed to restrain them." 1 Samuel 3:11-14

Samuel grew old, he appointed his sons as judges for Israel. The name of his firstborn was Joel and the name of his second was Abijah, and they served at Beersheba. But his sons did not walk in his ways. They turned aside after dishonest gain and accepted bribes and perverted justice. 1 Samuel 8:1-3

A similar fate attaches itself to the sons of other Bible greats too. We read their stories and we are mystified by the rebellion and treachery they often represent. One of the first to come to mind is Absalom - David's son - who schemed of killing his own father in order to take his throne, his power.

There is the matter of free will, and certainly Samuel could have doused his children with lavish love and consistent guidance. His sons could simply have rejected all that was good and decent in their home. In Eli's home we know that's not the case.

Yet I wonder ... Where Samuel's sons are concerned, is it possible Samuel learned his own parenting skills (or lack of them) from Eli? Remember, Hannah turned the little boy - roughly four at the time - over to Samuel for tutoring in the ways of God. Did the young Samuel witness Eli ignoring his sons for the greater delight of equipping a prophet (Samuel's call)? Was the serving of God more important (or heady) than the rigors of parenting? Could it be that Eli, and then Samuel in turn, truly believe their mission/ministry warranted abandoning their children?

My questions are rhetorical. In truth, I ask them without truly desiring an answer or explanation, or to affix guilt. Wondering is like that. It has beneficial side-effects in that it leads me to take stock - inventory - of my own life. Do I do as Eli and Samuel, or Isaac, or David, or ???

In some ways I hope the answer to that question is a resounding, "yes!". Afterall, isn't the seeking of the Lord with one's whole mind, heart & soul a worthy pursuit?

Yet ... in other ways I hope it's a bellowing "no way!" - not if my husband, or children, or grandchildren are the ones left in the wake of my spiritual junkets. How slippery is that slope that has some pursuing the things (ministries, miracles, significance and/or recognition, etc.) of God over God Himself.

Besides, it's not exactly what Jesus had in mind when He summoned His followers to leave it all behind (Luke 18:29). Letting go is not synonymous with abandoning responsibility. Raising children is surely that, if not a great privilege.

Sometimes the greatest ministry is of the fly-fishing sort, or the baking of cookies ...

As I once heard a wise preacher say:
"What's important for children to know is more often caught than taught." I wish someone had told that to Eli and Samuel.


Loren said...

Oh Kathleen,

I can't even tell you how many times these questions have come to my mind! How frustrated I become because I don't understand how young men can be raised by such godly people and do what they do. If they are watching their father bear good fruit isn't that what they in turn would do?

IDK, but I am glad to have read this post and someday I know that I will sit before the Lord and ask these questions if not before the people themselves :)

Blessings to you and thankyou for the lesson today :) You have the gift of teaching!!

Beth E. said...

This post makes me think of the first part of John 10:10 "The thief comes only to steal, kill, and destroy..."

One of the things the thief tries to steal is our attention. He can use good things - GREAT things...even church activities - to occupy our thoughts and take our eyes off of God and His purpose for our lives.

One of the strongest messages I ever received from God was when He showed me that - for a season - I needed to give up a lot of the activities I was involved with at church. I was hardly at home and was so busy.

God showed me that He first called me to be a wife to my husband and a mother to my children. My purpose was to raise my sons in the eyes of the Lord, according to His word. I was there to love them, nurture them, and teach them.

If we spend all of our time focusing on others, yet ignore our family, then we have accomplished nothing.

Great post, Sassy!
P.S. Be sure to hop over to my blog...I'm having a giveaway. :-)

Diana said...

Thanks for this post full of wisdom!

christy rose said...

Finding the balance of ministering to our children and ministering to the body of Christ is not easy to find. That is for sure! I think it is important that we remember that it is God that keeps our children and to continue to trust Him in the midst of it all. Hang onto His promise and know that He is capable of capturing their attention Himself if we will trust Him to do so. We, as parents, are called to love them and nurture them and reveal the heart of God toward them and others as an example of His goodness. That includes them, not excludes them. God desired to be right in the middle of our lives from the beginning because that is what love wants. There should never be a time where we are not right in the middle of our children's lives, in whatever stage of life that they are in. But, it is also important that they are in the middle of ours as we step into a giving of ourselves outside of the four walls of our home so that they can experience the heart of God toward all of His children and be touched by the reality of how great God's love is toward them and others. Finding that balance of family and ministry takes including our kids in the times that we minister and not leaving them out to answer the call. When ministry becomes about us and not about others we seem to forsake all to find ourselves in it, instead of forsaking ourselves to find others, especially our children. Through it all, much prayer and trust in the One who loves us and our children is vital.
Great post Kathleen!

Angie said...

Kathleen, what a powerful--thought provoking post for ALL parents. Even as grandparents, I look at what our grand-kids might see/perceive in us. In our attitudes and actions.

This was deep. Your posts are always making me want to dig in deeper to the Word and pass it along to my girls! DIG for themselves!

Thanks for sharing these truths!

Rose said...


Great thought provoking questions. I would just love to say I have the answer but wow, that is tough. It seems to me the best we can do is follow how God leads us. It seems cruel to abandon one's children but that is exactly what Luke 18:29 says, if that is what God calls you to do.
Disobedience has far worse consequences. Just look at Eli. He didn't discipline his children and it cost them their lives and Eli's as well.
Seems I need to do some digging as well.

sonja said...

This posting just reminds me of the Godly home I grew up in. My parents did the right things, and parented in loving obedience. They modeled for us what is God's example of a christian home. And yet.... I DID MY OWN THING, for many years. I now know that I looked more to them than to Jesus for many of my securities and my 'well being'. Where there wasn't necessary outward rebellion, there was certainly a casual attitude toward my personal walk with God. My sister and brother and I always talk now, about how we missed personalizing so much that we definitely had knowledge of. All of that to say, it is each individual's answer to God's call in their own hearts that brings us into deeeper relationship with Him. Along the way, I definitely was 'taught', and I 'caught' as well, but that came later for me. Good food for thought Kathleen!

Shirley said...

I read this a couple months ago and was amazed at the behavior of the sons given their background and so forth. I think sometimes I tend to look at people in the Bible as supposed to be perfect. I guess I hold them to a higher standard. So, I'm always shocked when I find out they're as human as the rest of us. Actually, in many cases, I am comforted by that. Abraham. David. Noah. Certainly not perfect, but considered righteous by God because of their faith.

Denise said...

Awesome post.

Anonymous said...

You've so beautifully put into words what has been swirling round in my own heart. "Putting the things of God over God Himself:"...I'll be pondering that one for quite awhile.

Thank you for sharing your wisdom, it is a blessing to me.


Jackie said...

Wonderful post!! Chocked full of anointed wisdom!

Sweet Blessings!

Technonana said...

I have had that same type of wondering... how can children raised in the same house, by the same people, be so different.
You are so right, it is not taught, but caught.
I caught it from my mom and she caught it from her parents.
Thanks once again for a wonderful thought provoking post!!

Terri Tiffany said...

I love your description of ministry.:) I would add coaching softball to that!

Just a little something from Judy said...

So many thoughts go through my mind as I reread your post again today. Seeing my own grandparents raise their 8 children in a loving Christian home and then seeing some of them chosing a totally different lifestyle, not coming back to the Lord until right before my grandma went to Heaven. Then walking with friends right now in life, whose children chose not to walk with the Lord as they were taught, I am reminded that the whole journey of our lives is totally in His care. So many of the hows, the whys, the whens, are His and His alone. And, when they don't walk with the Lord, or they are trusting in Him, God is continues to be God, and continues to lead us one step at a time.

I have seen many personal examples over the years of parents putting ministry over family, and I also seen the heartache that results from that chose. In my heart, I know that each of us is on a journey and there continue to be joys, trials, heartaches and blessings along the way, and God uses each and every one of them to grow us into what He has for us to be. I used to try to understand it all, now I am asking for the faith to live one step at a time, without having to understand. Quite simply...the older I get the less I understand, and yet the more I marvel at His soverign plans for our journeys.

You make me think my friend. You really do. I thoroughly enjoy the challenges you present and the love with which you do it. Keep posting. I will be reading.

elaine @ peace for the journey said...

"Could it be that Eli, and then Samuel in turn, truly believe their mission/ministry warranted abandoning their children?"

While reading this I couldn't help but think of something Billy Graham said at least once, perhaps many more times when asked if he had any regrets regarding his ministry. His answer...

"I wish I would have spent more time at home with my family."

Something to think about...


KelliGirl said...

As you said, the question is rhetorical, but it does present a lot to ponder and discuss. If we're sold out for Jesus and serving Him, where does that leave our families? Finding the proper balance as a mom is tough enough but when we add God wanting to be first in our lives, it becomes even more difficult.

Sure wish I had more answers than questions.

Blessings to you in the warm, sunny SW.