Daily Devotions

Opinions Ain't Worth Much

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Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. (John 17:17)

Our present society affirms opinions as if they were facts. When I was growing up, you had to earn the right to share an opinion. Perhaps some of that was inappropriate, but people were willing to acknowledge their strengths and weaknesses. The masses understood that some people, in every area of life, had more education, experience, and natural ability than others. They would listen to and often differ to the authoritative person. Not so much today.

Authority is viewed with distrust if not outright derision. Without authorities to speak, opinion fills that gap and becomes fact. Dan Pedersen, in his article, “Why Opinions Are Overrated (even “expert” opinions)” shares, “I’m a former hockey player and I’ve been following the game of hockey for almost 30 years. Most of the pundits on T.V. who comment about hockey are former professional players. They should be more knowledgeable about the game than me. Yet I often hear them say ridiculous things. It’s because they have to say something.” With social media providing the avenue, and with the dearth of respected authorities, everyone is expected to have an opinion on everything.

The same is true of the Christian faith. When I was growing up, and even in the early part of my pastoral ministry, most of the faithful understood that pastors had special training and their authority would be trusted. They did not trust blindly the vast majority of the time, but still wanted to learn from the trained clergy. Now, without authorities, even if trained, religious opinion from anyone has become fact. This statement has become fact: “My God wouldn’t be that way.” With no authority and only opinion, with everyone expected to say something, everyone’s opinion becomes “sacred.”

Today, pray for our society to stop confusing opinion with fact. Even if our human authorities have let us down for so long that we can no longer trust, please pray that people will turn back to God’s divine authority. Ask God to give us the faith and patience to refrain from sharing our opinion on every subject under the sun. Seek Divine guidance from those who know more on a subject than you or me. Then, always seek God’s understanding on every issue in life, because God doesn’t hold opinions, but is “the truth, the way, and the life.”

The Power of Parenthood

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Hear, my child, your father’s instruction, and do not reject your mother’s teaching; for they are a fair garland for your head, and pendants for your neck. (Proverbs 1:8-9)

When our daughter was young, I knew the powerful responsibility of being a parent. When she was a baby, she couldn’t live a day without her mother and me. As she got older, and was in elementary school, it was still clearly apparent that mom and dad were still the center of her life. She talked to us about everything and while she had friends, most of her time was spent with us. Then she became a teenager…

Now, don’t get me wrong, Hannah was always a wonderful daughter and gave us no trouble. (Except, she did tease her father terribly.) But, as a teenager, she didn’t share everything with us anymore. She struggled to find her independence, and her mom and I struggled, learning to give it to her. This continued throughout college, with friends seemingly as important as old mom and dad. Then, remarkably, after college, we slowly but methodically became closer again. Finally, after our daughter and her husband had children, we are even closer. It is a little different now, because there is more of a friendship and less responsibly, but the intimacy of the relationship is as deep as any point in our lives.

Over time, what I realized was that during the teen years, we parents were just as important in their lives as any other time. Hannah’s need for independence was, in part, because we taught her to be confident enough to not fear growing up. Her independence was also a sign of trepidation. She started her independent streak while she was still living with us, so she could practice being on her own, while still having us available. Her independence wasn’t a signal that she needed us less, but she relied on us differently. Parents shouldn’t get the idea that their teenage children no longer love them as much or need them less either. The key is to give them what they need, and not what we might need from our child.

Today, pray for parents, especially for those with teenage children. Pray for the gift of wisdom, to learn when to instruct and when to just listen. When to provide discipline and when to lighten up. Pray for the empathy necessary for every parent to know what their child needs in the moment and how best to respond. Finally, pray for every parent to receive the comforting hand of God’s mercy. Parenthood is the ultimate imperfect act. Not one parent, except for God, has ever done the job perfectly. Self-forgiveness is the first step in being able to meet our child’s needs physically, emotionally, and spiritually. With a self-forgiving spirit each person can properly wield their parental power faithfully.

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