I’ve been looking at the slope of the land we live on and decided to build a retaining wall. Having said that I always get nervous when starting tasks that involve some level of precision, because I wasn’t born with a love for detail, and when the wall is twelve metres long and a metre high any sloppiness in line or height will be easily (and permanently) visible. The thought of spending several days of hard labour only to complete a wonky wall, (that will forever be joke fodder for my cruel friends) leaves me a little ambivalent.
Oddly enough its not until you are well into construction that you start to notice your mistakes and begin to see things veering off course. That is of course, unless you plan well beforehand. I have a natural tendency to just jump in and start, but without that all important string line and spirit level I know my chances of getting it right are minimal, or more likely non-existent.
If you’re raising kids then I’d say some similar tools are needed. You can just jump in and give it your best shot, but some tools for setting a straight course are going to give you a much better chance of keeping them heading in the right direction as they approach teenage years.
I like that old African proverb that says ‘it takes a village to raise a child’ as it recognises that all of my kids’ needs for formation won’t come from the immediate family. Other people will have input into their lives, so who I allow to influence them matters in shaping who they become.
What I like about our church family at Quinns Baptist is that we have a close community of people with shared values and a shared foundation for life – kind of like a string line and spirit level. Unlike walls, there are no guarantees with kids, but if you start with the right tools then you at least give yourself a fighting chance of pointing them in the right direction.