Last month I shared some of the most important lessons God has taught me about parenting. With our Summer Sunday School presentation coming up on Sunday, and families getting ready to go back to school next week, I thought I’d share three more of those lessons that have helped me most.
1. Pharisaic parenting is the Christian parent’s biggest downfall. In Matthew 23:2-4, Jesus said of the Pharisees, “The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses' seat, so do and observe whatever they tell you, but not the works they do. For they preach, but do not practice. They tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on people's shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to move them with their finger. The Pharisees were into big expectations for others, hypocrisy for themselves, and never sought to help the people they led. Christian parents need to avoid burying our children in unrealistic expectations but instead be our children’s biggest supporters in together seeking the life that God calls us to.
2. Proactive teaching reduces reactive frustrations. In Ephesians 6:4, Paul encouraged fathers with these words, Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. Discipline can shape behavior but only God’s Word can ultimately shape a child’s heart. No matter how busy the workload, or how inadequate he feels, I believe God has called every father to lead his family by opening the Word of God with them. Sing it, memorize it, read it, discuss it: the style will change as your children grow but our responsibility doesn’t.
3. The gospel should be a parent’s theme. Parents desperately want to shape their children’s behavior. And behaviour needs to be addressed. But if all we do is shape behaviour we will have slavish, unconverted children who obey because they have to, not because they want to. Parents should:
- winsomely point their children to a loving God,
- model and teach confession and repentance over sin,
- regularly point and give testimony to Jesus as the solution to sin, and
- guide their children to seek and experience the wonder of forgiveness and reconciliation with God.
Parenting is the hardest job you’ll never get paid for. And so I hope we as a church family will look for ways to bless and encourage the parents in our congregation. Offer to pray. Offer to baby-sit. Offer to listen. Serve in Sunday School. Share your mistakes. Admit your failures. Help them know that they’re not alone!
In awe of Him,