I wrote this short article a few years ago for a series I was doing at church. It has been reprinted in a few places since, but I thought it was worth sharing again. Using the behavior of the wandering Israelites as a guide, here is how you can make sure your children fail.
1. I Did Not Have Faith. When God desired to lead us into the Promise Land, I sided with the majority who felt that we had neither the resources nor the ability to accomplish such a huge mission. After all, there is safety in numbers and the majority should rule. That’s the only fair way.
2. When Things Didn’t Please Me, I Longed For The Past. I valued the confinement of the familiar past more than I anticipated the joys of a free future.
3. When Nobody Was There To Make Me Live For God, I Became An Idolater. Serving God was…well, serving. Work. Effort. It never became a relationship.
4. I Blamed My Leaders When Things Got Tough. I refused to take responsibility for my own choices and actions. I didn’t ask to be born, and this little trek in the desert was hardly my idea, so why shouldn’t I put the blame where it belongs?
5. I Made An Issue of What I Perceived As My Leader’s Mistakes. I made sure he (and everyone else) knew when I disagreed with him. The fact that one can never destroy their leader’s authority without compromising their own wasn’t important to me.
6. I Always Saw The Bad Side of Things. When so many experiences are bad, how can you not notice?
7. I Didn’t Take God’s Word Seriously. You’ve got to admit, some of it just doesn’t make sense. Come on! Killing your best lamb? Isn’t blood blood? And isn’t blood the whole point of the sacrifice? So if the lamb only has three legs, what’s the big deal? It still has plenty of blood. And why does our tribe have to set up camp in the exact position relative to the tabernacle every cotton-pickin’ time? What difference does it make? I really don’t need some preacher telling me what God means. I can read and think for myself. Duh! You shouldn’t have gotten me started….
8. I Expected Success To Always Come Easily. I don’t see a God who can create a universe in six days needing forty years to get me to the Promise Land. He can create the Earth by speaking words, yet expects me to walk all the way to my new home? Please!
9. I Made Sure My Leader Knew When I Wasn’t Happy. Hey, he is the one who said God was going to tell him how to get us all to this wonderful land that flows with milk and honey. The good time he promised isn’t exactly what I am currently experiencing, so don’t blame me for talking about it. He is the one you ought to be complaining about.
10. I Didn’t Have The Guts To Stand Up and Speak Out For God. I’m not a preacher. God never spoke to me out of a burning bush. Sure, I saw a few amazing things like water coming out of a rock, quail covering the ground every evening, rivers parting so a couple million people could cross on dry land, but does that mean I am now God’s attorney? There are other people who are better at that sort of thing. Anyway, I can’t take a chance on offending some of these guys. I’ve got to live with them, you know.
11. I Valued The Familiar More Than I Treasured The Future. With the familiar, at least you know what you’ve got. The future is uncertain and there are no guarantees. A bird in the hand is better than two in some bush that exists only in your (or some preacher’s!) imagination.
12. I Preferred Earthly Things Over Heavenly Things. They called it angels’ food, but after a while you grow tired of that light and fluffy stuff. We may not have had a lot in Egypt, but the onion and garlic certainly livened up the cuisine a bit.
Be careful what you do. The lives you affect the most are the ones dearest to you. Build for eternity.