In light of Pastor Dan’s sermon from Mark 9:14-29, let me ask you about how you are parenting your kids. Are you seeking to raise them by your efforts and energy? Are you grinding away to power your home and family life by the strength that you possess? Or are you seeking to faithfully impart a godly legacy to them through the ways and means of God?
Raising children is a responsibility that demands much time, energy, focus, and effort from us as parents. Whether it is meeting the physical, emotional, or spiritual needs of your child, the demands are continual. It is imperative then that we do not draw from a source that is only as deep as a bucket (our strength). Instead, we should derive the vitality that we so desperately need from the fountain of life that never runs dry (our heavenly Father).
So how do we do this? Here are three thoughts.
Our parenting must be Christ-Focused
If we are seeking to make disciples of our children, then we must seek to point them to our desperate need for Christ as well as their own. Like the dad in Mark 9, we must look to Christ as our only hope. Only in Him are we children of God. Only through Christ will our children be able to call God Father. So, as you raise your children, daily point them to Christ. As we deal with their rebellious hearts and disobedience, point them to Christ. As we manage their interpersonal squabbles with siblings and friends, point them to Christ. As we comfort them in their distress, point them to Christ. As we celebrate joys and victories in their life, point them to Christ. We do this by regularly telling them about how Christ lived, as testified to in God’s Word, so that they may see his example and how much they need Him.
Our parenting must be Word-Saturated
One way in which our parenting is to be Word-saturated is by how we speak to our children. How much of the Bible is coming out when we interact and communicate with and to our children? By that, I don’t mean how many verses a day are we specifically quoting to our children (though we should do this) but is your language seasoned by God’s Word? Do you regularly instruct them and relate to them with words that are from God’s Word? As we seek to give them a God-centered view of this world, it is necessary for us to use God’s revealed Word to us in Scripture. When we speak to them about how they relate to others, we need to teach them from God’s Word. When we speak to them about obedience, we need to use God’s Word. When we give them reasons for why we believe and live the way we do we need to use God’s Word. The Bible makes them wise unto salvation, so let’s regularly tell them the Words of God.
Our Parenting must be Prayer-Driven
One sure fire way to parent in our strength is not to spend time in prayer. By not displaying a dependence on God and His working through prayer we are acting as if we can accomplish our parenting goals on our own. When we do not regularly spend time in prayer, we are unintentionally (or intentionally) saying we don’t need to focus on God.
How then does prayer help our parenting? Consider the prayer Christ taught (Matthew 6). When we pray, we are orienting our life, goals, and desires not on ourselves but rather on honoring God in our parenting. Praying also directs us to focus on His will to be done and not our own will in the lives of our children. Prayer then moves us to look to God in complete dependence for the strength to be parents. Further praying helps us to remember the grace that God has shown us through Jesus and therefore encourages us to be gracious and patient and loving with our children. Finally, prayer helps us to battle the many temptations we face as parents.
Oh God, our Father, we want you to be honored and made much of in our parenting for you alone are worthy! God may your will be done in our children’s lives. Help us not to seek our will for them but yours alone. As we seek to raise them, please sustain us by your strength alone, may we look to no one or anything else for the ability to be good parents. We daily need what you alone can and do provide for us. Thank you for your endless kindness and provisions to us! God, our Father, please help us to remember the grace you have shown us in Christ so that we too may forgive and show grace to our children whom you have blessed us with. Finally, help us to flee the temptations that seek to draw us in to being worldly parents. By your Spirit strengthen us, help us to cling to Christ alone, all to your glory! Amen!