3 Crucial Life Lessons from a Father’s Failure

He fell off his seat backward, broke his neck and died. That’s how life ended for Eli, the high priest.

I’ve read the story of Eli, his corrupt sons, the routing of the Israelites by the enemy Philistines and the capturing of the precious Ark of the Covenant many times.

But today when I read it, it made me cry. For Eli.

Even though this God-appointed priest seems to have started out well, Eli’s forty years in that position did not result in the godly legacy that he might have hoped for.

Failed Fatherhood

Eli’s sons were priests like their father. But the Bible calls them sons of Belial – worthless, good-for-nothings.

They did not know the Lord.

They stole from those who came to offer sacrifices.

They defiled the house of God by laying with the women who served there.

It appeared that they did whatever lustful thing they desired, robbing and abusing the people who came to worship and serve.

How did these rebellious sons get away with their debauchery? Sadly, Eli didn’t hinder them. All he did was warn them that their behavior was deadly, saying,

“If one man sins against another, God will mediate for him; but if a man sins against the Lord, who can intercede for him?” (1 Samuel 2:25a).

But those words of warning did nothing to stop them and the Bible tells us why.

“But they would not listen to the voice of their father, for the Lord desired to put them to death.” (1 Samuel 2:25b)

Why did the Lord want to put them to death? It’s likely because Eli and his sons had been dishonoring God and the people for quite some time. Their time to repent was up.

God sent a prophet to rebuke Eli for putting his sons before God and making themselves fat with the choicest of every offering that the people brought to the sanctuary. God tells Eli that his bloodline will be cut off and his legacy ended in disgrace.

A Great Loss

Eli arrived at the end of his long life a weak, overweight, disgraced man. What sent him over the edge to death was the capturing of the Ark of the Covenant.

The enemy Philistines stole the precious presence of God from their midst. There was nothing left. Eli had been caring for the ark for forty years and now it was gone.

Now Eli was ninety-eight years old, and his eyes were set so that he could not see.  The man said to Eli, “I am the one who came from the battle line. Indeed, I escaped from the battle line today.” And he said, “How did things go, my son?” Then the one who brought the news replied, “Israel has fled before the Philistines and there has also been a great slaughter among the people, and your two sons also, Hophni and Phinehas, are dead, and the ark of God has been taken.” When he mentioned the ark of God, Eli fell off the seat backward beside the gate, and his neck was broken and he died, for he was old and heavy. Thus he judged Israel forty years. (1 Samuel 3:15-18)

Eli failed.

He was gluttonous and greedy.

He raised sons who were lustful and treacherous.

He couldn’t protect the ark of God.

Eli lost.

He lost his opportunity to leave a legacy of holiness and fidelity to God.

He lost his sons who the Lord himself killed.

He lost the most precious object on the planet, the ark, the carrier of the presence of God.

He couldn’t control himself.

There are only a couple of times in the Bible that we read that someone is heavy. This is one of them. Eli ate more than the priest’s share of the offerings that the people brought.

He couldn’t control his sons.

Hophni and Phineas were adults, but they were ungodly priests whose behavior should never have been allowed to go on.

I never used to relate to Eli. I saw him as a man who make huge mistakes and paid for it. I saw him as weak but never anything like me. That has changed.

God’s Mercy in Our Weakness

Now that I’m older, and I’ve raised my two sons into adulthood, I see the story somewhat differently. I can relate to Eli’s mistakes.

Maybe I was too hard on my oldest son when he was a teenager.

Maybe I didn’t require enough of my youngest.

There were times when I lacked self-control and raised my voice.

Did I ever place them above the Lord in my heart?

It amazes me that God gives these tiny helpless humans to parents who are so imperfect. In our 20’s and 30’s we haven’t yet learned so many lessons that would make us better parents.

We still tend to be selfish, impatient and lacking compassion. It’s parenting that helps to mature us, but in the process our kids can get hurt.

It’s painful. The past can’t be changed.

I can ask for forgiveness. I can do things differently now. That’s all good. But I can’t alter the consequences that came from my choices.

My hope and peace come from knowing that God loves and forgives and works all things together for good for those who are called and who love him. (Romans 8:28).

I’m grateful for that promise because I need him to work out a lot!

As hard as it is to see my mistakes, it gives me empathy for people like Eli.

The Bible tells us about folks with less than stellar records on purpose.

We relate to their weakness.

We learn to ask for wisdom in our choices, so we avoid the same mistakes.

3 Life Lessons from Eli

  1. Love and honor God above everyone and everything. Eli and his sons put themselves before God.

Therefore the Lord, the God of Israel, declares: ‘I promised that your house and the house of your father should go in and out before me forever,’ but now the Lord declares: ‘Far be it from me, for those who honor me I will honor, and those who despise me shall be lightly esteemed. (1 Samuel 2:30)

And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. (Mark 12:30)

  1. Don’t wait to turn around. Eli and his sons didn’t turn from their sins.

And I declare to him that I am about to punish his house forever, for the iniquity that he knew, because his sons were blaspheming God, and he did not restrain them. (1 Samuel 3:13)

For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death. (2 Corinthians 7:10)

  1. Develop self-control. Eli and his sons didn’t restrain their lusts.

Why then do you scorn my sacrifices and my offerings that I commanded for my dwelling, and honor your sons above me by fattening yourselves on the choicest parts of every offering of my people Israel?’ (1 Samuel 2:29)

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. Galatians 5:22-23

There is Hope

Eli, Hophni and Phineas came to a terrible end.

Sadly, there are people all around us that go down the same road. We see it in the news and in our own backyard. But it doesn’t have to be that way!

If we will surrender our hearts to the Lord, he will give us the ability to love and honor him first and above all and not make our children into idols, serving them first.

The Holy Spirit will lovingly convict us of our sin so that we can repent and be set free from the burden and shame. One day at a time.

He will give us the fruit of self-control so that we do not fall into temptation.

There is always hope!

God sees, knows and cares. We can find encouragement in the fact that he will never stop working all things out for our good and for his glory.

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.  Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. – Jeremiah 29:11-12

 

Preschool Must-Have’s! Top Tips for Choosing the Right Preschool

Your kids are the most precious people in the world to you! At first, it’s hard to imagine giving them to a stranger to care for, isn’t it?

My first experience with preschool was traumatic! I don’t mean when I went to preschool, I mean when my first son did. I was a mess!

There he was, standing at the window waving goodbye while crying his eyes out. I plastered a smile on my face, waved back, got in my car and drove away. Then I let it all out and cried my eyes out, too!

He had a hard time there, so we moved him to another preschool that we were all very happy with. It was some work finding the right one, but it was worth it!

Where our children go to preschool is REALLY important! They are a critical time in their early development. Both positive and negative emotional experiences have lasting impact.

So, it pays to do our due diligence before we decide on preschool. There a lot of great ones out there but also some that aren’t so great.

Once you have a potential school picked out, I strongly suggest doing a classroom observation. A couple of hours or more would be great.

It’s true that a teacher might be on guard if you’re there, however, you can still get a sense of whether the children are happy and if the teacher has created a positive atmosphere.

 

“Must Have’s” for Any Preschool

DOWNLOAD MY FREE PRESCHOOL MUST-HAVE’S CHECKLIST!

Must Have’s – Preschool Teachers

Are they kind?

Are they patient?

Do they smile?

Do they use positive discipline and redirection instead of yelling, “Don’t!” or “Stop it!”?

Do they use positive verbal guidance instead of just demanding things from the children?

Do they get down on the child’s level when addressing them?

Do they listen to the child’s concerns and help them come up with solutions?

Do they use positive reinforcement of good behavior?

Will they allow observation?

Will they let you stay with your child for a while at first?

Must Have’s – Safety

Outlets covered or out of reach, all cleaning products in locked storage cabinets, no broken tiles or torn carpets that might cause tripping, temperature well controlled, exterior doors that children can’t unlock, bookcases and other climbable furniture bolted to walls or floor, clean sinks, surfaces and toys.

Must Have’s – the Classroom

Most preschool classrooms are organized into centers and a good preschool will have a combination of some or all of these, with variations, of course. I’ve offered examples of some of the equipment and toys that any preschool should have. They are also fantastic for your your home! As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

Art Center

Table, easel, paints, paper, staplers, scissors, markers, crayons, glue, seasonal items for holidays, etc.

Music center

Rhythm sticks, cymbals, triangles, bells, drums, autoharp, scarves for movement to music

Science/Discovery Center

Plants, rocks, shells, magnifying glass, balance scales, aquarium, animal/insect cage, small appliances to take apart and explore.

Manipulative Center

Puzzles, open ended toys like Lego or other connecting bricks, collections like keys for sorting, buttons, matching games

Reading Center

Picture books, phonics, first readers, classics, nursery rhymes, books with themes such as colors, shapes, and numbers. (Visit my Usborne Books & More for great children’s books for your home or your child’s preschool!)

Block Center

Wooden unit blocks, hollow cardboard bricks, plus farm animals, small vehicles, etc. to go along with them. Rug for added fun and to keep the noise down.

Housekeeping Center

Child-sized sink, stove, refrigerator, cupboard, pretend foods, dishes, cups, cutlery, pots/pans, telephone, broom and dustpan.

Dramatic Play Center

Dress-up clothes, hats, mirror, dolls and doll beds, armoire/dresser, coat rack.

Other centers ideas: workbench, sand/water play, writing, computer.

Must Have’s – Outdoors

There should be at least 75 square feet of play area for each child surrounded by a sturdy fence. If there is a gate, it’s locked, and children are unable to get out. All equipment in working order with no hazardous areas.

Look for a grassy area and a paved area, climbing equipment of the appropriate size, balls, hoops, ropes, sand/water play, garden, digging toys, ground level balance path/beam, play house, wheeled toys, messy art materials.

DOWNLOAD MY FREE PRESCHOOL MUST-HAVE’S CHECKLIST!

Follow Your Instincts

If you find a preschool that fits the criteria, great job! It might be worth a try. However, always follow your mom instincts. If you don’t feel good about it, even if it fits the basic criteria, move on!  There may be something out of whack that you can’t see.

When your child starts the new preschool, stay with them for a while, helping them adjust. If they cry when you leave, it’s normal.

However, if they continue crying long after you’ve gone or every time you leave them there for weeks, I’d consider taking them out. They might not be ready, or you just may need to try a different school like we did.

Remember, there is no rush!! Trust the instincts God gave you as a mom. Enjoy watching your child succeed in his new adventure!

You may want to read my post: 10 Things to Say to Preschoolers to Give Them Courage and Confidence. I tell you how to prepare your child for new adventures.

10 Things to Say to Preschoolers 1

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