Keith and I went to our first parent-teacher conference yesterday for Grayden.
Having been a teacher myself many years ago, it brought back so many memories for me. I can remember preparing materials (evidence) and practicing what I needed and wanted to communicate to each parent about their child. Conferences, for me, were one of the best opportunities to praise a student by highlighting their academic strengths and growth. It was also the best venue for pointing out any concerns I had about the student's academic skills and performance. AND, as a follower of Jesus who greatly values the heart, I also took the opportunity to share with each parent something positive about their child's character. Things like:
"Your child is kind to others."
"Your child sticks up for the bullied."
"Your child is determined to persevere."
"Your child is patient with herself and others."
"Your child's joyful spirit is contagious."
So, yesterday when I walked into the conference I wanted to hear how Grayden was doing academically. But honestly, that took a back seat to wanting to hear about his moral character in the classroom toward his schoolwork, his teacher, and his peers. I wasn't sure if his teacher would share this sort of information with us, though I was hopeful she would.
As we listened to her highlight Grayden's academic strengths and weakness, I listened for anything that would inform me about his character. I was able to glean a few tidbits from several of the examples and stories she told. And then I heard the words, "Grayden is trustworthy. I can trust that when I give him something to do, he will do it. I can trust him to make the right choices in the classroom."
Joy washed over me.
THESE were the words I would repeat back to him when reviewing the conference talk because I want him to know that nothing matters more to us and to Jesus than the condition of his heart. While grades, reading level, writing ability, and math skills are important, they pale in comparison to matters of the heart.
Now friends, please don't take my sharing this as bragging. Those of you who read this regularly KNOW that Grayden is far from perfect. However, I wanted to share this parenting moment because God used it to challenge my own heart.
Yesterday I spent some time at a Bible Study looking at Matthew 7:15-20 where Jesus warns us to "watch out for false prophets." He says we "will recognize them by their fruit." Is their fruit good or bad? In other words, are their choices and lifestyle bearing, or displaying, good character (the kind one reads about in Galatians 5:22-26 concerning the fruits of the Spirit).
Or, are their life choices and lifestyle bearing bad fruit? Things like idolatry, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, envy, etc. Jesus' point is that we will know whether someone is really a follower of Jesus evidenced by their fruit.
He used these verses to challenge me: "Renee, if your children were to have a "parent conference" with you WHAT good fruit would they point out about the character of your heart? Are you bearing bad fruit to them like a false prophet? Or are you bearing good fruit to them like a humble, sincere follower of Jesus should?"
So God used my desire to hear Grayden's "good fruit" at the conference, to remind me of His desire for me to bear good fruit to my children. For by my fruit they will recognize Jesus OR a hypocrite.
So today let's search our hearts and ask ourselves what kinds of fruit our children see in us day in and day out?
AND let's pray our children continue to grow in matters of the heart, bearing good fruit.
"Every good tree bears good fruit and every bad tree bears bad fruit." Matthew 7:17 I pray that as my children grow to know and serve you that they would be bearers of good fruit. Fruits of the Spirit like love,joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, and self-control. I pray they would value the condition of their heart above academic or worldly success. May others recognize You in them because of their good fruit.
And I also pray that they would watch out for false prophets, those who masquerade as followers of Jesus. Give them the ability to discern whether or not these individuals' fruit is good or bad. Protect them from falling prey to deceivers and idolaters whose fruit look nothing like You.