These are the familiar title and lyrics to a song made popular by The Byrds in 1965. A little before my time, and yet a song that is as applicable today as then. You may not know, it wasn’t actually written by The Byrds, but by a guy named Pete Seeger, in the late 1950s – a little more before my time. And yet in truth, the words of the song were not even original to Mr. Seeger. Those honors go to “the writer” of the book of Ecclesiastes (chapter 3), who many theorize to be King Solomon. Wayyy before my time.
And yet, as a Foster Parent, and especially as a Foster Parent of teens, this song/scripture has some key truths. Simple truths, really, that can be hard to live out.
Let’s face it. These teens are fairly set in their ways. I can try to bend them toward “my way” of doing things, but often that option can be disastrous. I can drop hints and take the passive aggressive approach, but that practically guarantees I will have a very lousy relationship with them. And with little or no relationship, I will be a very ineffective parent.
A time to keep silence, a time to speak.
Proverbs 19:11 states “A person’s wisdom yields patience; it is to one’s glory to overlook an offense“ (NIV). As a foster parent, and I think especially as a foster Dad to two teens, there are many times when I know I have the “right” to correct my foster kids, when I know I have a better, healthier, way to “do things”. But it would be better for everyone if I just kept my mouth shut. I’m not perfect in this, but I’d say it’s an area where I’m learning, growing.
A time to plant, a time to reap.
So much of what we’re doing as foster parents to teens is about planting. At this point, it’s not gonna be so much about what they’re taught, but what they’ve caught. A consistent example through the way we live is more important than the words we say. Being humble. Taking on an attitude of consistent servant leadership. Deferring my way, my wants in order to make peace. And this lines up with scripture. Jesus said that the peacemakers will be called children of God (Mathew 5:9). The Apostle Paul instructs believers to be at peace with all people, as much as is within our power (Romans 12:18).
My wife and I started our foster care journey almost two decades ago. Time has born out the truths of these lyrics, these words of scripture. We still have relationships with some of the “kids” (kids no longer) who were in our care at that time. We did a little planting then, we’re seeing God do the reaping over time. And they don’t so much remember anything we ever spoke to them, but sometimes they come to us and ask us to speak into their lives now. There is a time for every purpose under heaven.