As I watch my children take part in camp, I realize that my sons are living examples of what works and what does not in relationships, business and ministry when it comes to confrontation. In some ways they demonstrate all that is right and all that is wrong in the world!
One of my sons was confronted about doing something he did bad this afternoon. I told him that it was witnessed by other staff and I believed them. He immediately lowered his head, said it was all true and apologized. I told him that he could choose one of two options as punishment and then earn the right to be back at camp. He quickly made a choice and redeemed his place in camp the next day. There was nothing else said, but he spoke softly to me for the rest of the day; he was embarrassed, by what he did, but he impressed me in how to took responsibility.
Then another son also did something inappropriate, and I confronted him the same way—but perhaps even more carefully, because I know that he resists taking responsibility. His sins were more disconcerting than his brother’s, but this son immediately used the pronoun “we” to acknowledge what he did, shifted and shirked responsibility, tried to confuse me by suggesting I was asking the question incorrectly, and argued that he had not done precisely what I said. After thirty minutes of wrangling about the accusation, he finally admitted to what we all knew, i.e. that he was guilty as accused. Then began to cry that it was “not fair” that people had snitched on him and that he was always in trouble because nobody liked him.
This is a daily, daily, drama with him. But when I offered him the same choices of consequences he fell deeper into anger, frustration and despair. These two sons have different personalities, of course, and both were adopted from different foster homes, but the boys represent how most adults are in the world! Unchecked, rude little boys (and girls) grow up to be rude men and women. Moms and dads have a very short window in which to instill the right manners and civil responses that allow that child to grow into a responsible lady or gentleman. All adults were once children that were taught to take responsibility for their bad choices and blame only themselves, or they were allowed (or shown!) to find someone/something else to blame when they were caught in sin.
This goes back to the original sin, Adam and Eve, etc. But the best thing I can do for my boys is to show them, by example, that when I make a mistake or commit a sin I admit it and blame no one but myself. I have such admiration for those men and women who have been willing to say, “It’s my fault!” And yet I truly don’t see many folks like that leading America today. Ah, the maturity of an adult that can say, with all sincerity, “no one is to be blame but me” and oh the excellence of the Christian who is so far advanced that he/she goes even further and says, “Against You only, God, have I sinned!”.
My sons are not there yet, but fortunately raising boys is not a sprint….