Do your kids know you’re on their side? Before you answer this question, think about it from their perspective. If all they hear are rules and criticism, they may not. We have to discipline–kids need discipline, but there’s a way to train that communicates, “I’m for you. I’m on your team. I see you, and understand you.” Seeing and understanding our children means moving past the behavior to the cause. It means taking time to connect with them on an emotional level–finding out their fears, struggles, thoughts, and emotions regarding a subject. When we take time to connect, even while in the midst of training, I believe God allows us to catch a glimpse into our children’s heart. And when you start parenting from the heart, you’re more likely to invite cooperation from your kids. Why? Because they’ll know you’re for them, not against them. Today’s post by Laura Anderson Kurk evaluates Paul’s relationship to Titus, pointing out relationship building principles we can apply to our parenting.
Call me Titus please, by Laura Anderson Kurk
Sitting in a Bible study last week, trying to become my chair as usual, I heard something that made me smile. Titus, of the tiny book, was “left” in Crete. I knew it already but hearing it that day made me chuckle. I pictured Paul sailing away from the island and then, however many nautical miles away, turning a quick circle on the deck and realizing Titus hadn’t made it onto the boat.
I wonder how often Paul had to look around for Titus, the quiet friend and faithful follower, just to make sure he was still there. Later Paul writes Titus and says, “Oh, by the way, the reason I left you there is because I want you to finish what we started, but, (and this is purely my speculation) maybe make some noise next time so we’ll know where you are.”
Now, you know I’m not serious. I know there was a divine plan that placed Titus in Crete. And, given Titus’s role in the early church, he might not have been a shy person at all. But we all need role models and I’ve chosen to project my personality onto Titus. For someone who has been “left” before because I’m quiet and, frankly, forgettable in social situations, it’s sort of delightful to think of Titus in this way.
I also love that Paul anticipated that there would be questions about Titus. “Who is this guy? Is he actually one of them?” Maybe Titus was one of those rarest of creatures who actually stood back and listened. Who wanted, more than anything, to understand before he spoke. Maybe he, like all wallflowers, got the heebie-jeebies if he had to talk about himself.
Paul knew Titus’s nature. He wrote, “If anyone asks about Titus, say that he is my partner who works with me to help you. And the brothers with him have been sent by the churches, and they bring honor to Christ.” (2 Cor. 8:23, New Living Translation) His descriptions of Titus paint a relationship that was deep. He said things like: he is my partner; he has been my companion in travels, and my partner in preaching the Gospel; he is a fellow helper; he is a worker. Together, these two men had faced troubles and persecutions, and together they had communion and fellowship.
I like to think that Titus found comfort in the fact that Paul understood him and was prepared to back him up. In the same way, my one or two close friends prop me up, speak for me when I’m unable, and understand my heart.
It’s like a parent raising a child who needs propping up at times, who aches for someone to understand. I’m raising a couple of those kids right now, one of whom is so full of becoming a teenager that my heart aches when I see her changing. As a mother, I admire the respect Paul had for Titus. It was almost like a father who cares for a son and understands him completely. The happiest kids are those whose parents don’t try to fight the created self of the child. I had that as a child and, in turn, I’m trying to give that to my reticent children.
Jung said, “The shoe that fits one pinches another.” I believe that, and I also believe that a deeply introspective existence leads to greater understanding. Cut out the noise, and you hear simple truth.
So, picture with me, Titus on that island, suddenly alone and fully responsible. He had plans. He had goals. He had a list of things to get done for God. So what if he didn’t want to constantly define who he was. That was all fluff and Paul was perfectly willing to do it for him, if necessary. Now let’s, like Titus, get done what still needs to be done.
Laura Anderson Kurk lives in College Station, Texas with her husband and two children. She writes YA fiction and her first novel, Glass Girl, is available at Amazon and Barnes and Noble. She blogs at Writing for Young Adults (www.laurakurk.com) and in the e-zine for teen girls, KatharosNow (www.katharosnow.com). Find her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/writerlaurakurk.