Parenting is full of great joys and great challenges. I remember the mixed emotions of having to let go of that little tiny hand as I released my children to Kindergarten and into the care of another. I remember the joy of watching each of my children come down front to receive Jesus as Lord during VBS. Then the excitement that followed, as each night we would read the Beginner’s Bible together, and they would answer questions. I remember having to correct my children; boy, was that hard! The supreme struggles over who sits where and “Why do I have to eat that?” “When can I have video games?” and “When can I have a cell phone?” I remember the first day I took my son for his driving lesson. The tension was palpable when I handed the keys and possibly my life over to my child to let him get behind the wheel and drive. Then there was the satisfaction that followed as I watched him safely and thoughtfully navigate the car in the parking lot, then street, and yes, even on the highway! I also remember the pride that comes from watching your children walk down the aisle and graduate college.
Parenting is not easy. After all, raising a child is not like buying a new car. At least a new vehicle comes with an owner’s manual! Children do not! The good news is you don’t need to be the super parent who has everything together. You just have to be the parent God called you to be! Parenting is as much about you developing Godly character as it is about raising your child to follow Jesus.
And God has equipped you to do so! Ephesians 2:10 tells us that God made each one of us a masterpiece. You are a special, unique creation handcrafted by God. God has prepared you for the task. And just like we as individuals are designed uniquely, families are too! Each family is its own unique masterpiece. In fact, no two families are alike. So how do we develop as families, parents, and children? The Bible gives us a clear indicator.
While children do not come with an owner’s manual, they do come with the creator’s manual – the Bible! The God of the universe, who designed and created us, has shared within the pages of the Bible the principles we need to know to train up our children in the way they should go! (Proverbs 22:6) The best way to be good parents is to seek to be good followers of Jesus Christ. Through your children, you pass on all that you are and everything that you have to offer humanity. God has placed inside the heart of each child the desire to be like their parents. Children naturally imitate their parents; it’s how they learn.
They copy our every move and want to be just like us. The Apostle Paul writing to encourage his young follower Timothy said, “I have been reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also.” (2 Timothy 1:5 NIV84) Notice that, like anything else, what is in you as the parents – your habits, family traditions, the way you speak, dress, and act, and your faith is passed down through the natural course of family life.
As parents, we all want what is best for our children. We want them to do well at school, find good jobs, find a spouse, settle down and have a family of their own one day. We want them to be people of integrity and character who love the Lord their God with all their heart, mind, soul, and strength and who love their neighbor as they love themselves. The best way for us to achieve this is when we, as a mom or dad, stay close to Jesus. The better example we are of Jesus in front of our children, the more likely they will grow up to be just like Jesus too!
God didn’t call me to parent your family, and he didn’t call you to parent mine. But what he did do was call each of us to give our kids what we have! So how do we parent our kids to be more like Jesus? The answer is really quite simple. Give them what you’ve got! In Acts 3:1-8 we come across the story of Peter and John who were on their way to a prayer meeting about 3:00 in the afternoon when they ran across a lame man who used to beg by the entrance to the temple. When the lame man saw Peter, he asked them for money. Peter and John looked straight at him, and said, “Look at us!” which the man did. Then Peter said, “I don’t have any silver or gold, but what I have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.” Taking him by the right hand, he helped him up, and instantly the man’s feet and ankles became strong. He jumped to his feet and began to walk and praising God.
You see, Peter and John gave him what they had. They couldn’t give him money; they had none. But they did give him what they had. The same thing is true with each of us as parents. Don’t compare yourself to another parent or your family to another because each is radically different. Instead, compare yourself to Jesus and become more and more like him. God has placed within you all that you need to parent your kids. Look to him to draw it out of you, and then just give your kids what you’ve got. What you have is more than enough to meet your family’s needs. You are uniquely designed by God to parent your children. So give ’em what you’ve got! Draw closer and closer to Jesus and let his light and life rub off on your kids.
PRAYER: Father God in the name of Jesus, I pray as a parent that I would have the wisdom of God to train up my children in the way he/she should go. Show me Lord the plan you have for my child’s life. Thank you that as I follow the Holy Spirit’s leading that you will guide me into unpacking the gifts and talents you have placed in his/her life in order to fulfill their divine destiny in Jesus name, amen!