Our twin 10-month-old grandsons were over a couple weeks ago. I was spinning Cole in a living room chair while his brother, Jordan watched. When I stopped the swirling, Cole crawled to the side of the chair and I moved into a position to catch him if he slipped. Suddenly Cole inexplicably dove off of the chair like a skydiver. I awkwardly lunged and caught him by his left foot just before his head would have hit the ground. Cole was fine, but the maneuver strained my right hamstring muscle. That warm warning in the back of my leg turned to a shooting pain when I tried to regain my balance. I handed Cole off to his father and fell back on the couch in distress.
As I lay there grabbing the back of my aching hamstring, I noticed my grandsons playing happily with their dad. I suspected Cole had no idea that I was hurting. Those twin boys knew nothing about the sacrifices their parents have made since they came along—the personal time commitments, the new financial obligations, the lack of sleep, the trips to the store to pick up diapers, ointment, plus other various and sundry baby items—not to mention the agony of childbirth. I doubted the boys had any clue to the expenses their parents incurred by uprooting their lives in southern California to move north—closer to family, including both sets of grandparents.
Speaking of grandparents, Jordan and Cole have no understanding that grandparents pay a price too.
Allan Frome said, “Being grandparents sufficiently removes us from the responsibilities so that we can be friends.”
And Robert Brault added, “To become a grandparent is to enjoy one of the few pleasures in life for which the consequences have already been paid.”
Both Frome and Brault are way off. Yes, grand-parenting is… well, it is grand. But there is a responsibility and a cost to grand-parenting. That day I was feeling it in the back of my leg. Typically I feel the pain a little bit higher—in the wallet.
Someone said being a grandfather is like being a left-handed relief pitching specialist. You don’t have to pitch the entire game, you just come out of the bullpen every so often and pitch to a batter or two. I love coming into the game to help my kids with their kids. But there is a cost. I limped around for a couple weeks, and I was okay with that, each twinge reminded me of the blessings and privileges I have in my family. But it does hurt.
Similarly, parenting a church—being the mother church who sends out people and money to get a new work started--carries a cost. Grand-parenting a church—acting as the sending agency or denominational group the helps a church to get started—carries some costs too. Reproduction is expensive, for everyone involved.
“In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”
When Paul had finished speaking, he knelt down with all of them and prayed. They all wept as they embraced him and kissed him. What grieved them most was his statement that they would never see his face again. Then they accompanied him to the ship.—Acts 20:35-38 (NIV)
Often church planters miss this. As church entrepreneurs we can get so caught up in playing our game that we don’t realize the sacrifice that others before us paid, or are paying, or continue to pay. We expect the money and support to come like a child expects his parents to meet his or her needs, unaware of the sacrifice. Those involved in helping to start churches are glad to do it, and do not expect any accolades. But let’s not forget that reproduction is expensive, costly, even painful, but very well worth it.
Those who sow with tears will reap with songs of joy.—Psalm 126:5 (NIV)
Jordan and Cole were over again the other day. It was their parent’s anniversary so we had the boys overnight. Cole must like me because he insisted on getting up before the crack of dawn to spend time with me. It cost me sleep and warmth and the comfort of my bed. Changing his diaper was no fun. But being part of his life, of new life, of a new generation is way well worth the price.