Eli was a priest but he had lost his center. His two sons Hophni and Phineas were also priests; but they were self-centered and evil. Their focus was themselves. God sent a prophet to warn them; they didn’t listen. It was during this time that the young boy Samuel heard God call him for the first time. God gave Samuel this message:
“At that time I will carry out against Eli everything I spoke against his family–from beginning to end. For I told him that I would judge his family forever because of the sin he knew about; his sons made themselves contemptible, and he failed to restrain them.”
The end result was a disaster; Eli’s sons died on the same day and the ark of God was lost to the enemy. When Eli heard the news, he also died. No member of Eli’s family ever became a priest again.
Being off-center can have dreadful results. As parents it is easy to find ourselves off-center. Stephen Covey said, “The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.” The main thing, the center of our homes is Jesus Christ. As parents, our aim is to please Him. To lose that focus is to be off-center.
Our society pushes us to have a different center. The buzz word is “child-centered.” Everything revolves around the children. Parents run to and fro to meet the “needs” of the children. We move mountains to make sure that nothing damages their fragile self-esteems (another buzz word). We ask them what they want, when they want it, and how they want it. We spend our energies frantically trying to make the little children happy. Instead we make them into spoiled brats who have an unrealistic view of the world; they believe that the world revolves around them. And they are not happy. Neither are we. If we take this path, we are worshipping our children instead of Jesus Christ. Child-centered is off-centered.
Human nature pulls us in another direction, allowing us to be self-centered. We believe that we deserve time for ourselves. Children are a bother, and we push them aside so that we can do the important things like work, play tennis, and socialize. We include the kids only when it serves our image. We worship ourselves. The end result is often divorce. Then we need the kids to soothe our damaged egos, stealing their childhoods from them even as we continue our own. Self-centered parenting is off-centered parenting.
When we focus our home on Jesus Christ, we grow, we learn, we laugh, we live—together.