|image courtesy of ortonesque via sxc.hu|
These resources tend to focus on things like discipline, values, behavior, character, and so on. And these ARE good things, and we as parents need to be intentional to train our children in these areas. But if we stay there, we miss a huge part of what it means to make disciples.
What we need to make sure we do, above all, is center our parenting around the Gospel. (The Gospel, briefly, is the message that Jesus, fully God and fully man, came to earth to die as the way to redeem us from our sin, to pay the price and absorb the wrath of God that we deserve, and that we have new life through repentance of our sins and through faith in His life, death, and resurrection.) In our parenting, we need to continually point our children to these Gospel truths, not for mere head-knowledge, but for the goal of Spirit-directed heart change.
Biblical parenting is about using scripture and godly principles to guide us in how to parent and how we live. Gospel parenting is about helping our children realize their need for a Savior and leading them towards a life of dependence on Him. Biblical versus Gospel parenting is not clearly defined, like crossing a line. It's more like a spectrum, so it's difficult for me to draw clear distinctions that are over-reaching and cross-cultural. But here are some general examples of the difference:
- When a child is upset and frustrated because he failed at a task or goal, Biblical parenting focuses on teaching him to persevere, try their best, and be encouraged. Gospel parenting instructs him to not put his hope in his own abilities, but that his hope must rest in the Gospel.
- When a child is sad when her friends hurt her feelings, Biblical parenting seeks to manage the pain and find friends who will love her. Gospel parenting reminds her to worship Jesus, in that He experienced complete rejection and laid down His life for all those who hated Him, including us.
- Biblical parenting teaches that children should love others because that's how they would want to be treated and because the Bible commands them to do so. Gospel parenting motivates children to love others by pointing to how God has shown us love and grace through His Son's death on the cross.
- When your son boasts over some accomplishment, Biblical parenting teaches him to be humble and not proud. Gospel parenting calls him to repent of his pride and know that when he boasts he is exalting himself instead of glorifying God.
- When your daughter considers herself unattractive, Biblical parenting encourages her by pointing to inner beauty. Gospel parenting preaches that God made her exactly like He intended, in His image, and with such infinite value that He sent His Son to die for her; rejecting how God made her may actually be a rejection of Him.
- My Passive Son Needs the Gospel
- Gospel-Centered Children
- "It's Not Fair!!"
- Frustrated With School Work
- Humility and Wisdom
- Recommended: Shepherding A Child's Heart
- Not Just Kids -- Part 2 (Parents)
- The Difference Between Parenting and Making Disciples (from Called to Youth Ministry)
- How Churches Can Fall Short
- Passing on Your Faith
- Kids Who Forgive Too Quickly, or Too Slowly