The Hardest Part Of Parenting
The hardest part of parenting, as a Christian, is not just verbally explaining the Gospel. It is, in fact, exhibiting what a saved life looks like (by justification of faith). It is the daily reflection and ripple effect the Gospel has on us through action and how we demonstrated the gift of grace. This grace reflected through humility, praise, gratitude, and joy. It is revealed in how we handle failure/mistakes and even successes. Don’t forget, the big moment those children (young and old) are watching is in how we handle conflict and exhibit the Fruits Of The Spirit (listed below)... It is reflecting a disciplined life and one that gives God all the glory and honor. The hardest part of parenting is how “we” as parents live our daily lives as a testimony of faith.
Living inconsistent to what we preach or teach can often turn a deaf ear, it can cause rebellion, it can sever the mystery of those around us wanting to find favor in Godliness. It can muddy the waters. Mistakenly making the Gospel look unappealing, undesirable, fake, and dreadful by the choices we make as parents- that, that is the hardest part. Ultimately ......Hypocrisy. It’s hypocrisy and it carries a stench. Most very young children can pick-up on a “double standard“ as young as 3 and 4 years old. Once a child hits about thirteen, things shift. Our actions will be weighed on a scale during our children’s teen years. Their own life scale. They will reason with what is real, true, and worth living in their own lives. This can be true for parents living a double standard in front of their adult children. We shall never underestimate the influence we have as parents (no matter our children’s age).
From the beginning of time, you can see the negative and the positive impact, from generation-to-generation, in how child rearing effects each generation. Child rearing being how we rear (raise) our children and what do they see in us? There are implication to presenting a false Gospel in and through our lives that effect our children. Shipping them off to learn and take the classes, going to church on Sunday but acting totally different Monday-through-Saturday, that has a huge effect and impact on them. It’s a trickle down effect. It starts with us-not just demanding them.
How they see Christ in us, that is the hardest part of parenting. Yet, in Christ alone, not by our own will, but through the Holy Spirit, we can accomplish this task, even among our failures.
Christian author and pastor, John MacArthur explains (paraphrasing), “Obedience to God and to the Word is being filled with the Spirit....to be continuously controlled by the Spirit which does that through the Word! So, to be “filled with the Spirit” that is being obedient to the Word... This means we are obeying the Truth and letting it work in our lives, to allow it to take over, it’s not whimsical.”
To sum this up, if we obey the Word and obey truth, this leaves “little” room for hypocrisy. Will we be perfect?- no, but we can certainly learn how to be humbled by our imperfections and come graciously to a place of admitting our faults and move forward in God’s Grace and forgiveness.
Barna Research took data from evenagelical pastors, we know pastors teach and preach, and they found that 17% of their children walked away from the faith because they didnt see it was modeled at home. Additionally, this article linked here finds that people raised by religious hypocrites were more likely to become atheists (this not implying all prodigals came from homes with unfaithful-double standard parents).
http://www1.cbn.com/cbnnews/us/2018/august/walking-the-walk-new-study-reveals-people-raised-by-religious-hypocrites-more-likely-to-become-atheists-later?amp Lets look at some main points and line-it-up with Scripture:
1). How do we do this?
Galatians 5 talks about:
“Living by the Spirit”
Life by the Spirit:
“You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other. So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like.I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.”
2). Christ died for us and loves us despite our sins, He will not leave us on our own in parenting if we submit to Him. We just have to be willing to accept the gift He offers us:
Romans 5:8 “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
3). If we lack wisdom in parenting, God will answer. Wow, have I needed Him and He’s been so faithful to provide answers through many circumstances. Countless measures of prayer and praying without ceasing is how we navigate parenting:
James 1:5 If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.
4). What does the Lord require of us?
Micah 6:8 “He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”
5). We can make mistakes, we can learn from our children and we can see God’s goodness through it:
Read Luke 2, Mary, Jesus’ mother, was observing and hiding and treasuring many things in her heart while parenting Jesus (even though He was without sin, and our children are born with a natural sinful nature) there is much we can learn from Mary. Mary had felt fear, anxiousness, frustration and wonder as she had to go looking for Jesus. Losing track of her son during a 64 mile journey home after the Festival Of The Passover, she realized he was missing and searched for him, they found him after 3 days (Read Luke 2:41-51 for more...to be astonished at where Jesus was). God taught her quite a bit just in this failed moment. She learned of His heart and even what was important to God. She was amazed right after she felt worried. We can find amazement in our failure and growth too and God uses that as an opportunity to “teach“ us, just as He did Mary.
6). God WILL do more than our little parenting minds can comprehend. To submit to His will for our lives means to allow God to do whatever, and however .... we trust Him because we are His family. We are His no matter our past, because He is sovereign and He is able to do more than we can imagine.
“For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being,so that Christ may dwell in your heartsthrough faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filledto the measure of all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.”
•Next blog, if you have the opportunity to read Matthew 20:20, please do. I will be writing about this next as I have been studying this passage. This passage, though short, is packed with many truths about the heart of a mother’s request. Jesus tells this mom what the secret to the Kingdom is as she makes a pleading request to the Lord. Zebedee’s son’s mother, (she is recognized as Salome, Zebedee’s wife), she followed Jesus’ life and if you remember -she followed Jesus to the grave. This passage, I will unpack, next week, as we look at the heart of parenting again and what crucial words Jesus has.