Not Just Kids -- Part 2 (Parents)

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About 3 years ago, I was at a conference that included teaching from about 10 different speakers.  Frankly, I got a lot of wisdom from about half of them, but at some point your brain can't absorb any more.  So during one of the last sessions, I tuned out a little, and meditated on this question, "According to specific Bible passages, what is parenting about?"  I wanted to get to the core of the matter.  Here are some of the basic principles that I could come up with:
  • Train and teach them (Proverbs 22:6)
  • Talk, communicate (Deuteronomy 6:7)
  • Be a model
  • Discipline them (Proverbs 22:15)
  • Goal is to reach their heart
  • It requires time
  • Value them all (unlike Isaac did with Jacob)
  • Answer their questions; respond to the spiritual inquiries (such as in Exodus 12)
  • Protect them, and yet challenge them
  • Be God-dependent (Mark 5:21-43)
  • It involves risk; nothing is guaranteed
  • Give them hope; don't cause them to lose it (Ephesians 6:4)

What a list, huh?  But as I kept looking over each point, I realized that the Bible speaks about two general aims for parenting.  Part of it is about God using the parent pouring into the child -- training, giving value, protecting, encouraging, etc.  And, at least as important, it is about God using the child to grow the parent -- trusting God, sacrificing time, taking risks, giving hope, etc.  In other words, just as God wants to use me to reach my child's heart to help him grow in Christ, God purposes to use my child to help me know Him more and grow closer to Him.

Either way, God's mission in parenting is reaching the heart, the child's and the parent's.  While it seems easier to see how I'm supposed to pour into and reach my child's heart, what is more striking are all the times that God uses my child to expose sin and pride in my own heart.  As personal examples in my own life:
  • When I get frustrated when my child won't talk to me, God reminds me how little I communicate with Him.
  • When my children are careless with their actions, I remember how careless I am with my words.
  • I find it hard to believe how my children think they know it all, and yet I continually trust in my own wisdom, instead of God's.
  • I can easily see how silly it is when my child pouts when he doesn't get his way; in those times God shows me that I am just as self-focused and faithless.  

The list could go on.  For all that God is using me as His agent to lead my children towards Him, I am equally thankful that He is using my children to help me worship Him more intimately.

Parents, what has God taught you through your children?

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  1. God has been using my Autistic child to show me how inflexible I am to change and how harmful it is to be all about my own agenda... I was surprised at how much I have in common with my child!

  2. Thanks for sharing this; I know that God has been growing and blessing you guys a lot. Yeah, I think that God teaches all us parents about how self-focused we are, especially through our kids. I appreciate you bringing this up.