Help Me! My Child Is a Prodigal
I am intrigued by the father in the story of the prodigal son. His handling of the situation was masterful. But of course he represents our heavenly Father, so it should not be a surprise. Far too often when a parent sees their child go off into the far country they react rather than respond. Reactions are typically emotional based while responses are principle based. It is critically important not to make emotional decisions during this time. If you have a prodigal child what exactly should you do? Let's look at some answers
- Make sure your pride is not the issue. It is not and cannot be about you or about what people think of you. Some parents forget the child and think only of themselves. Do not be selfish when it comes to the situation facing you.
- Do not assign blame for the failure; not to you, not to others, not to the church and not to God. Blame Satan if you're going to blame anyone. It is easy to try to find someone who we can blame for our child's decisions. This is not a time to assign blame. This is a time to deal with the issue of your prodigal child.
- Do not scrutinize their poor decisions. Allow them to make their mistakes. You will drive them away if you spend too much time nitpicking. They are away from God so accept the fact that they have and are going to make poor choices. Be careful not to nag at them lest you drive them further away.
- Do not dwell on the situation. Go on living and serving. No "what if..." sessions. Asking, “What if…?” or saying, “If only…” is counterproductive and will only cause us to dwell on the past rather than the present.
- Do not preach at them. They know right from wrong already. Let the Holy Spirit convict them without your interference. Do not play the Holy Spirit, but intercede for them in prayer.
- Keep evidencing your love for them. Tell them and show them. Do not withhold your love from them. Love is unconditional and they need to see that in you now more than ever.
- Do not cut them off. They are your child. Celebrate their Birthday and treat them like your child. Do not make them feel that their sin has changed their status in your heart. Remember you must be right with them even if they are not right with you.
- Get closer to the Lord yourself. “Draw nigh to God…” Sometimes we go to people and unload our burdens instead of using this situation to bring us in closer fellowship with the Lord.
- Don't whine...to anyone. Share your burden without feeling sorry for yourself.
- Don't talk about it too much. Your tongue will lead your spirit. When we talk about it we often talk ourselves into emotional frenzies. Remember your tongue is the bit in the horse’s mouth which determines the direction of our thoughts and actions. You do not talk about what you think about. You think about what you talk about.
- Don't believe their life is over. IT'S NOT! By all means do not despair. No matter how far they go, they could come back and live a wonderfully productive life in the future.
- Stay patient. God is working. He always is, but we must not get pushy. God is never pushy. The father did not go to the far country to chase down the prodigal. Be patient and let the Lord work in his timing. I do not know how long the prodigal was away, but I know the father patiently waited for his return. Don't get pushy or in too big of a hurry. It may be a while, but the goal is for them to truly come to themselves.
- Rejoice in the Lord...Always means always. It is hard to rejoice when your child is a prodigal. The Bible says that we are to rejoice in the Lord always. That means even when our child is away we must live in the joy of the Lord, not in the sadness that we are feeling because of what our child has done.
- See their good even in their bad. Do not miss the positives that still exist. Sometimes it is hard to remember that child that we once knew. Remember them at their best. Remember what they were because that is probably still what they are deep in their hearts. Just because they have gone out into the world for a season does not negate what they once were. Believe they were sincere then. Believe that one day they will be sincere again.
- Do NOT change or go backwards. Discouragement is a huge tool of Satan. This is one of the biggest problems for parents of prodigal. We get discouraged, then we backslide. Many a parent backslid before a child came to themselves and the child could not return because the parents were not where they once were. Stay faithful to the Lord during this time. Do not let your discouragement cause you to abandon your faith.
Parent this is a beginning, but it perhaps will help you to respond properly to your prodigal child. Guard your emotions. Reactions will create destruction. Calculate your decisions and your words when it comes to your prodigal. God is working even if you can't see it.
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