My Passive Son Needs the Gospel

Sleeping is good. Passivity is not.
I wrote yesterday about the need for men to stay connected to their children. And I also mentioned a ministry called Men's Roundtable, which has helped me over the past 10 years understand what it means to be a man.  According the teachers of this material, one of the things a real man does is reject passivity. Our (that is, for men) core sin is that of sitting back and watching bad things happen.

A History of Passivity
This passivity was seen in Adam's sin (Genesis 3), where he was standing right with Eve while a talking snake told her lies.

My passivity is seen in every day situations. I know that God puts me in places to be a leader, or to at least assist others, but I often fail to step up like I need to. Instead of responding as God would have me, I fear failure and fear rejection by others.

And more and more, I see this passivity in my son, Elijah. This tends to be evident in his failure to act and his failure to take responsibility.

Failure to Act
Last week, Elijah wanted to sit near Hannah as she played computer. All the other nearby chairs were being used, except one that had a bag in it. Elijah looked around for another chair, and then looked at that bag-holding-chair, and then said, "I'll just stand up." Sender looked at him with confusion, got up, moved the bag from the chair to the floor, and said, "Look, Elijah."

Elijah would have chosen to suffer (albeit, mildly) instead of taking the momentary effort to move a small bag out of the chair. He chose the quicker and easier path, instead of what would have been more comfortable in the long-run. He chose immediate over delayed gratification.

Failure to Take Responsibility
Throughout school, my English teachers cringed at the constant use of the passive voice of verbs. For a quick recap, here is a comparison between the passive and active voices:
  • Passive:  "The boy was hit by the rock."
  • Active:  "The rock hit the boy."
The active voice has the form "Doer - Action - Receiver of the Action." Because the passive voice reverses this normal order, the reader has to work harder to understand the meaning of the sentence.

What does this have to do with the sin of passivity? Here are some examples of recent explanations given by Elijah:
  • "The plant got knocked over."  What he should have said was, "I knocked the plant over."
  • "Sender hurt his knee."  A more accurate explanation would have been, "I pushed Sender, and that made him hit his knee on the dresser."
  • "Nobody told me to do brush my teeth."  Umm . . . . Doesn't he remember that he brushes his teeth every morning? Better would have been, "I chose to play Lego's instead of brushing my teeth."
Notice what he is doing in each situation. Instead of putting the focus on himself -- as you would in the active voice -- he turns it around to focus on the receiver of the action (the plant, Sender, teeth).

How the Gospel Meets Passivity
Men are called by God to be leaders. Men are called by God to produce, not just to consume. Men are called by God to get things done, not to idly watch others fill the gaps.

Like me, Elijah struggles with passivity. He would rather take the easy road than the right road. While he knows that this is wrong, he can never change on his own. He cannot muster up enough power to do what's right. He needs the Spirit of power (II Timothy 1:7) to change Him from the inside out.

When he fails to own up to his failures, and decides to blame others, he needs to understand the Gospel. He needs to trust in Jesus' forgiveness, and to receive and clothe himself with the grace of Christ, along with owning up to his responsibilities and failures. Instead of ignoring or minimizing his sin, he needs to confess His sins to God (I John 1:9).

Pray that your son would worship Jesus over his own selfish desires. Pray that your son would rest in the grace that Christ offers, instead of in his own talents and wisdom.

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