Shows Main Idea – “I’m bored.” How many of us have heard this from a child? It seems boredom and children go hand-in-hand. What makes this so unusual in our day is there has never been a time where people have had so much access to the world.
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- Parenting From Zero To Adulthood – A 31-Day Devotional
- We Are One – A 31-Day Devotional
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We live at the speed of the Internet, always being fed new ways to amuse ourselves. There used to be a time where the world was shut out, and you had to wait all week for your favorite TV show.
Today, you can bring your favorite show to your device in a matter of seconds. You can binge-watch an entire season in a week. We live in an on-demand world. What do you want? You can have it. The world will withhold no good (or bad) thing from you.
Still, some children are not satisfied. The precious jewel of contentment is a blast from the past–a sailed ship. A parent’s biggest challenge today is how to accommodate their child’s insatiable appetite for the next new thing.
An Influencing Position
Joy is the natural response when we behold God. What does it have to do with boredom? Joyful people are mobilized. They delight in doing small obediences. They are pleased to serve God in any ordinary way he sees fit. They also know that an army of people taking small steps of obedience is what moves the kingdom of God forward in power. – Ed Welch
It would be fair to say that contentment is a reasonable opposite of boredom. You would also not be wrong to say that joy is the opposite of boredom. Joy is a manifestation of the contented heart.
- What contented person is not joyful?
- What joyful person is not contented?
The bored boy has no joy. You can see it in his countenance, which is what makes his declaration of boredom self-condemning. To say, “I’m bored” is a commentary on my relationship with the Lord. To say, “I’m bored” is the joyless response of the discontented heart.
Though there is an element of self-condemnation and personal culpability for the bored child, there could also be more going on in his life. If a pattern of boredom or discontentedness persists, it might be wise to assess how you are leading him.
The child has not been living on an island. There have been shaping influences in his life. Comprehensive care would call for careful thought about the people who have had the most persuasive and controlling power over him.
My desire here is not to put you on a guilt trip, thinking all of your child’s sins are because of you. I do not believe that. But there is an idea here that you must explore. It’s called parenting.
Follow The Leader
One of the things I’ve noticed about my children is they believe what I tell them. When I told them the speed limit was 55 MPH, they believed me. It never occurred to them that there was another speed.
When our church met in a hotel for years, my four-year-old son was amazed at all the “churches” at the beach. We met in a hotel. Therefore, all hotels are churches. What else was he going to think? All hotels are church buildings!
Children are impressionable. Your words are law and so is your behavior. When children are young, they become a close facsimile of their parents. What choice do they have? You’ve seen the videos about the newly hatched ducks following the first thing they see. They follow the leader, regardless of who the leader is.
Small children will follow your leadership in more ways than you might imagine. After they are older, they are independent, with individualized personalities, but that is not the case when they are younger.
Parenting is an influencing position. There is no other alternative for any parent. Regardless of the kind of parent you may be, you are influencing your children. The question to consider is how are you affecting your kids? How have you rubbed off on them?
When one of my children says they are bored, one of the first things I do is examine myself. I want to know if I have done something that has contributed to their sin (Matthew 7:3-5).
- They are not happy. Am I not happy?
- Have I exported anything negative to my child?
- Is there a way I should change?
- Before I examine the speck in my child’s eye, what about the plank in mine?
Here are nine comparative descriptors that you can export to your kids. Knowing that you are the most powerful influence on your child’s life, I would like for you to give some thought to how your actions and attitudes have impacted the environment of your family.
#1 – Critical or Encouraging
The bored child is a critical child. He has a complaint about his current situation. He is a grumbler who is not happy. He is not getting what he wants, and he’s letting others know the condition of his heart.
A good parenting goal is to help your children see the goodness of God through disappointment. Though they can read about this kind of godly attitude through the characters in the Bible, it will have a more impact when they experience it from your life.
- When you’re in a situation you do not prefer, how do you respond?
- What are the first words out of your mouth?
#2 – Negative or Positive
First responders to the scene of an accident are positive. Imagine if you were in a car crash and the first responders peered through your window and gave you no hope.
I’m not talking about being a positive mental attitude infomercial for your children. I’m talking about a contented awareness that God is with you and He is working in you for His glory and your good. The bored child is standing on a dead-end road despairing. The positive child sees the end of the road as an opportunity for the Lord to do something special.
- Is this latter attitude what you are regularly exporting to your children?
- Do you see the Lord in your life, actively bringing about His good purposes, even through your disappointing circumstances?
#3 – Cynical or Faithful
The cynical person is suspicious and accusative. He believes that behind every silver lining is a cloud. He knows the other shoe will fall and he does not mind sharing his dark opinion.
When children are small, they have no faith, so they lean on the faith of their parents. The faithful parent is always pushing through, trusting God. This kind of parent fully expects God to be faithful on their behalf.
- How does your view of God affect your child?
- Are you consistently faithful to God during the disappointing times?
#4 – Ungrateful or Thankful
The value of “thank you” is priceless. Grateful children are happy even with the simplest things. They don’t need what everyone else has because they are grateful for what they have. They perceive the value in God’s generosity, and they are appreciative.
A regular chorus of “thank you” is always wafting through their home. Gratefulness is contagious. Whether you win or lose, the joy-filled heart is steadied by a grateful awareness that the Lord is good and doing good.
- Do your children experience your gratefulness for the big and the little things in life?
- Do they experience your gratefulness when things do not go according to your plans?
#5 – Lazy or Proactive
Ed Welch said, “Joyful people are mobilized. They delight in doing small obediences.” They are proactive and engaged with God and life. Their joy in the Lord pushes them forward.
Boredom should be impossible in God’s world. There is too much opportunity for the Christian. Joy is like the fuel that pushes them onward and upward. God’s world is their playground. Christian parents are full of joy, hope, and faith. They will die with a thousand unfulfilled dreams.
- Are you full, overflowing, and spilling over in your children’s lives and God’s world? See Psalm 23:5.
- How are your children affected by the active faith you have in God?
#6 – Undisciplined or Consistent
The bored child is up and down, always regulated by what he is getting or not getting. If he is getting what he wants, he is content. If things are not going his way, he’s dissatisfied and whiney.
The joyful person is steady, regular, and satisfied regardless of his situation. He has learned how to live in any situation. Good or bad, he is always the same (Hebrews 13:8)
Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me. – Philippians 4:11-13
- Are you consistently the same regardless of your circumstance?
- What do your children experience from you during seasons of disappointment?
#7 – Immaturity or Maturity
Boredom is immaturity. It is a clear and objective measurement of the depth of a person’s soul. A child of the King should not be bored. To be able to do all things through Christ who strengthens you is the result of the contented soul.
Followers rarely rise above their leaders. Kind usually produces a similar kind. If my child lived in a normal state of dissatisfaction, I would most definitely want to examine my heart to see if I live in a similar way.
- What does your child’s boredom reveal about you?
- If my kid is similar to me, in what ways do I need to change to help him find satisfaction in Jesus?
#8 – Selfish or Generous
Boredom is an “all about me” attitude. What have you done for me lately? It’s the open hand, requesting to be compensated by someone. Bored people are not giving people. The only person they are thinking about is themselves.
Generous living characterizes the counter worldview. The generous person cannot be bored because of the endless opportunities before him. His problem is never about depleted opportunities. He is always ready to be spent.
I will most gladly spend and be spent for your souls. – 2 Corinthians 12:15
- Are you generous? Not just with your money, but with your time? With your abilities? With your wisdom?
- Would you be characterized as a giver to others? Do you model an active and other-centered worldview to your children?
#9 – Angry or Loving
Boredom is a form of anger. It’s saying, “God, you are not enough, and I want more.” It’s a manipulative demand for someone to cater to you. It is self-love that others must stroke for you to be happy.
Bored people are high demand individuals who use their manipulative anger as a way to get what they want. To love is to think about others more than yourself. To be angry is to reflect on how others can meet your demands.
- Are you a loving person who is having a positive effect on your children?
- How are they experiencing your joy-filled love? What have been some of the visible results?
My goal here is not to guilt-trip you, but call you to examine your life and how you may be influencing your children. If our lives are not what they should be, our children will do one of two things. They will model us or reject us. In their early years, they will be more like us because they want our affirmation and acceptance.
If we are modeling a poor manifestation of Jesus, we should expect negative traits in our children. It is rare for genuine, authentic, grace-empowered, joy-filled Christians not to replicate a similar kind of attitude in their children. And, sadly, the opposite is also true. How do you need to change?