Purposeful Mothering - 4 - Purposeful Watchfulness

Purposeful Watchfulness

Part Four: Guarding Against Enemy Attacks

by Leslie Ludy

Several years ago, I visited a pumpkin farm with my children in the fall. As my children were participating in one of the activities, another mom treated my son Hudson quite rudely, loudly accusing him of cutting in front of her child (which he didn’t do) and telling her child to push him out of the way in retaliation. Uh oh. Suddenly the “mama-bear” instinct rose up within me and I found myself marching straight up to this woman and giving her a piece of my mind. (Looking back now, it’s easy for me to see that my passionate desire to protect my son was healthy, but the way I lived it out in that situation was not!)

As mothers, we are typically ready to clobber anyone who would dare harm our children emotionally or physically. But it’s all too easy to become lax toward the forces of darkness that seek to undermine our children’s souls. It may be allowing ungodly television shows or movies into our homes, overlooking the worldly attitudes and mentalities that our children quickly pick up from such mediums, assuming that preoccupation with pop-culture is “normal.” It might be too much freedom on the Internet—allowing our kids to participate in unhealthy addictions to social media, texting with their friends, or unguarded Internet surfing simply because it keeps them busy and allows us to get more done around the house. Or maybe it’s allowing our kids to play with certain friends simply because they “seem fairly nice,” without really knowing exactly what kind of influence they are having upon our kids.

When the enemy seeks to undermine our children spiritually, he typically does it in subtle ways—not obvious ones. Are we being vigilant and watchful, alert to his schemes and ready to stand against his cunning attacks on our kids? Or are we simply too busy to notice when something unhealthy is encroaching upon our families?

Are we being vigilant and watchful?

When the Proverbs 31 woman “watches over the ways of her house” (Proverbs 31:27) it means a lot more than meeting the basic needs of her home and family. A closer study of this verse reveals that she is vigilantly keeping watch in a military sense; like a night-watch solider scanning the horizon intensely, on the lookout for any sign of enemy invasion. I like to imagine myself standing in an “on guard” position: stance firm, eyes focused and clear, jaw firmly set, and fists up—ready to deliver a knock-out blow to anything attempting to harm the souls of my children.

Remaining in this “armed and ready” position is only possible when we lean on the supernatural grace of God. If we look to our own ability to vigilantly watch over the ways of our house, we’ll quickly grow tired and lethargic. Only when we remain spiritually sharp and focused can we be constantly alert to the slightest invasion of the enemy. If we allow our own spiritual lives to become slothful and apathetic, we’ll soon become blind to the subtle ways that darkness is attempting to creep into our homes and undermine our families.

I would like to share two key principles that help me remain faithful in “watching over the ways of my house”:

1. Paying Attention

This may sound overly simplistic, but I’ve realized that truly paying attention to what is going on with my children requires dedication and discipline. I will never forget seeing a documentary about a group of 100 teens in a wealthy community that had to be treated by the health department for an outbreak of STDs, because dozens of children (many as young as twelve) were engaging in extreme sexual behavior without their parents’ knowledge. In nearly every case, the parents of these children were simply not paying attention to what was really going on with their children. They were busy with career pursuits, church activities, and bustling social lives. Their homes were filled with televisions and video games. There was so much noise and distraction in their lives that they weren’t able to see the warning signs when something wasn’t right.

I have found it’s absolutely essential for me to tune out noises, devices, and distractions in order to tune in to my kids. If I’m texting or checking email on my phone the whole time I’m with my kids at the park, very likely I won’t notice if an unhealthy influence tries to creep in—such as the inappropriate words or behavior of another child. If I’m busy on my computer every evening, I won’t be aware if one of my children’s attitudes seems “off” in some way. If I spend more time talking with my friends and neighbors than I do talking with my children, they will never get the chance to let me know if something is bothering them, or if something negative happened during their day that needs to be addressed. If I allow them to watch movies or visit websites without carefully screening them first, my kids can quickly be exposed to things they shouldn’t be. Paying attention to my kids requires many sacrifices on my part. I can’t have as much of a social life as I may want; I can’t spend as much time on the phone or computer as I’d prefer, and I may not get as much done around the house as I would like. But if my children’s hearts, minds, and souls are being protected, I know I’ve done my job well. And I know without question that the sacrifices I’m making now will be more than worth it in the long run!

2. Avoiding Things that Dull Me Spiritually

A lot of Christian parents believe that it’s okay for them to indulge in worldly activities that they would never allow their children to participate in—simply because they are more “mature” and able to handle it. While it may be true that we as adults have a greater capacity to understand evil and sin, it’s dangerous to assume that we are “mature enough” to participate in ungodly activities without it negatively affecting our spiritual lives. I remember listening to a child-training message in which a home-schooling mother described the vigilance with which she and her husband governed their home and protected the hearts and minds of their kids. But later in the message, she mentioned that each week she and her husband would retreat to their bedroom for “time alone together” to watch a certain television series that their children were not allowed to see. I knew that this particular television series (like most) was filled with violence, sexual promiscuity, sensuality, and profanity. It stood out to me that even though this mom and dad were diligent about protecting the hearts and minds of their kids, they had become lax about protecting their own.

I have learned firsthand that I cannot expect to be excellent at “watching over the ways of my house” if I don’t first “watch over the ways of my own soul.” Whenever I allow myself to meditate upon worldly or ungodly messages, I lose my spiritual sharpness and thus, my ability to vigilantly keep watch over my children’s souls. Too much time on the Internet, exposure to worldly movies and television shows, reading secular magazines that promote pop-culture mentalities—all of these things dull me spiritually, much like a professional athlete would quickly lose his “edge” if he started eating junk food all the time.

2 Timothy 2:4 says, “No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please him who enlisted him as a soldier.” We must remember that as “watchers over our houses” we are to be like military officers, scanning the horizon for any sign of the enemy. And for this, we must have the discipline and dedication of a military officer—remembering that we are on “active duty” and refusing to trifle with things that will entangle us with worldliness.

A quote from Leslie’s Book, Set Apart Motherhood

It takes focus, dedication, and energy to train children in the way they should go. And though motherhood is the most taxing job we will ever undertake, it also has the potential of being the most joyful and most rewarding task we could ever imagine . . . if we do it for the glory of our King. We can’t be partially committed to this call; we must give it everything we have.

-Set Apart Motherhood, Chapter 2