Some people use their children as weapons.
They use them as a way to hurt others, or as a way defend themselves. You’ve probably met a parent like that. Maybe you’ve been tempted that way yourself?
Here’s the thing. There’s a sense in which the Bible says that our children are to be used a bit like weapons.
Intrigued? Then read on.
Take a look at these verses:
Children are a heritage from the Lord,
offspring a reward from him.
Like arrows in the hands of a warrior
are children born in one’s youth.
Blessed is the man
whose quiver is full of them.
We’ve been struck at the imagery of children being “like arrows”. It’s an interesting choice of simile.
An arrow isn’t designed to stay in the quiver. It’s good to have a quiver full, but only so that they can be sent out.
Arrows are meant to fly away from the quiver as the bow sends them out.
It’s interesting that the verses don’t say “Children are a heritage from the Lord, offspring a reward from him. Like trophies on your shelf” or “Like money inside your wallet”.
Why would this be this case?
Because children are not meant to remain dependent and cloistered up in our possession. They are not designed to be cooped up forever – they are designed to fly from the nest. The ideal is that they become independent, responsible and purposeful (an arrow is sent out of the quiver for a purpose, and noticeably sent out by another – “the warrior”).
Or to reflect on another metaphor…we all know that the nurturing of the mother-bird and safety of her nest are essential for the chicks to grow and develop. But we also know that it would be unnatural for the mother bird to try and sit on her growing chicks and prevent their efforts to fly from the nest. It would be unnatural – it would be unhealthy for the chick and for the mother-bird. It could result in the chick’s death. No, the healthy and natural way of things is for the chick to find their wings and with the mother’s encouragement to have the courage to step out of the nest and fly into the sky of opportunity.
So, if the end goal is independent, responsible and purposeful adults who will fly our nests – how do we begin to see our children in that way now?
If the goal is that we send our children out with a purpose, like a warrior sends out his arrows, then how do we prepare ourselves and them starting now?
Perhaps a change of mindset is needed for you – perhaps you’re tempted to treat your children as your trophies. Perhaps they are there to show off your achievement as a parent.
Perhaps you’re tempted to treat your children like a coin in your wallet – you see that they are precious and that makes you want to cling onto them.
Well the beginning of this Scripture can help us with that:
“Children are a heritage from the Lord,
offspring a reward from him.”
Ultimately our children are from God. He created them and he gave us the immense privilege of caring for them, but they don’t belong to us, they’re not our property to treat as we see fit.
Our children are from him. Our purpose in raising them is to get them ready to live independently for the Lord. When they have left our care we want them to be living with purpose for God – loving his church, reaching the lost, serving the poor. That’s what we are designed for – that’s what they are designed for.
In the end, while children can bring us great personal joy and pleasure, they are not given to us simply for that purpose – they are to be given back to God for his service. Arrows in his quiver to be sent out for his kingdom.
Perhaps this sounds hard and counter-intuitive. Well we can take great comfort that God is more of a loving parent than we ever could be. We can know that the God who calls us to send our children out, is the God who sent his Son out. He’s the God who did not spare his Son, but gave him up for us. He is the God who so loved the world he gave his only begotten Son that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
And as we send our children out to independence and adulthood we know that the indwelling Spirit of God goes with our children protecting and providing for them all the way.
So don’t be afraid to weaponize your children… just make sure you do it in the right way.