I have had the privilege to get to know some wonderful families in my preaching career. It is inherent in my role in the body of Christ to spend time with different families for various reasons, so I get to see their dynamics and quirks. It is always interesting to me to see how these different families function: who usually disciplines the children, how chores get done, what lessons are being passed on to the children from the parents, etc. There is one situation that happened which I don't think I’ll ever forget, and I want to share that story with you. I am fully aware that this story may not be interesting to you, but it is hilarious to me. In fact, in communication with this family to this day this situation is a running joke. Let me fill you in.
There was a family that moved to West Virginia soon after I began preaching there. Our families soon became close with some shared interests. The parents had a (I believe) 17 year old son who was maturing and getting ready to leave the nest. He and I got on well so we spend a lot of time together. On one occasion we were making plans in my car and he needed to call his parents to inform them of what we were doing. He called his mother, talked for a bit, and I gather from his reaction, was ready to stop listening to her. So he hung up the phone while she was mid-sentence. I quickly understood what he just did and gave him a look which conveyed the idea of that not being a good idea.
And then, his phone rang. It was his father. The look on his face, I remember, was priceless. He timidly answered his phone and said, “Yes, Dad?” I heard through the phone what was being said and was cautiously awaiting this father to yell and rail against the inappropriate conduct his soon to be “adult” son displayed. But instead I heard this, “Son, did you just hang up on your Mother?” He said, “Yes I did.” The father slowly and calmly said, “Don’t do that.” And the father hung up.
I was shocked and could not help but laughing out loud. The son and I still laugh over this conversation but the meaning of its impact was not lost on me. The father knew from a long relationship with the son that an overreaction was not necessary. He had laid the foundation of discipline long ago with their parenting style and knew that a simple “Don’t do that” was sufficient. I have no doubt that if the son did it again, there would be heavy consequences to pay, but an idle threat would not do the job of correcting his behavior.
The lesson here is that through this simple, everyday interaction between father and son, an impression was made on me which lasts to this day. If I ever think about doing something my heavenly Father would not be pleased with, I still hear the echo of this thick-drawled Texan say “Don’t do that.”