(June 11) How Lawn Care Shaped My Parenting

One of the things I most enjoy doing is taking care of my yard in the summertime. I generally mow my yard every 4 or 5 days because I like to come home and the yard always looks like it has just been mowed. I make a habit to chase water sprinklers around the yard in an attempt to keep the grass green. I fight a never-ending battle against the demonic gophers and moles that continually invade my property. I fertilize regularly to try to keep the grass growing as long as possible.


And...don't get me started on my rain gauge! Whenever it rains in the summer, to me, it's like a little taste of Christmas morning (I just combined my two favorite things: summer rain and Christmas!). I love to walk out to my trusty rain gauge and see how much fell at my house (of course, then you have to compare how much your rain gauge had compared to others you see that day). Water that falls from the sky is the best medicine for any lawn!


When my sons were little, I learned a lesson about lawn care that I will never forget. My boys were getting to the age I needed to start teaching them to use a lawn mower, operate a weed-eater, and work an edger. As their dad, I knew it was my responsibility to teach them such things.


There was only one problem.


If they were to mow the lawn at a young age, there was no way it could look as good as if I did it. Were my sons to run the edger, there would be exactly zero percent chance that the indention between the sidewalk and the grass would be perfect.


Call it a classic conundrum...to teach my sons, or to bask in the glory of a perfectly manicured lawn.


Enter my wife. One evening, years ago, I was explaining to her my predicament. Silly as it sounds, for me, it really was something that was a struggle. After listening to my dilemma, my wife uttered a simple sentence that has never left me. She calmly said, "Michael, we are raising sons, not a lawn."


Whether those words were original with her, something she had read in a book, or maybe something she had heard from another person, I do not know. It did not matter the source, the message hit home. My role as a father was not to keep my lawn as clean and perfect as possible, rather, it was to train my sons to become men.


In the end, I hope to influence my sons to love Jesus Christ and to live for His glory. In order to do so, I know I must teach and train them while allowing them to make a few mistakes along the way. So, even if the edging was not perfect, nor the mowing lines in the grass exactly even, as my wife reminded me, my task has been to raise sons, not win the yard of the month.


This brings my heart to Isaiah 40:8 which says, "The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever."


These days, each summer, I play the same game. I try to fertilize and water my lawn to keep it green as long as possible. While most people cannot wait for mowing season to come to an end, I am trying to extend it. I make it a personal challenge to see how late into the year I can need to mow. The same thing happens every single year, though. At some point, the grass withers. Green turns to yellow, life withers to death. No matter how hard I fight it, it is a battle I cannot win.


And so, I remind myself to invest in things that matter most and last the longest. It is the Word of God that endures. When the grass has withered and the flower has faded, Scripture stands!


All of this helps me to understand that I do, in fact, need to teach my sons to be a man. Some seasons of life that means teaching them to tie their shoes, or tie a necktie, or mow the lawn, or handle a savings account, or to be a husband.


Yet, the most important lesson I can teach my sons is to know and love the Word of God. Everything else I teach them is temporary, but the things of God endure forever.


Why not start this day by recommitting yourself to the things that matter most? Teach those under your care. Invest in spiritual things. Love people more than you love your stuff (or your lawn). And above all else, build your life upon that which will endure forever and forever. When all things of this world have faded, the Word of God will stand. Believe in that promise, and pass it on to others!

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