Why do so many parents struggle and stress over raising their kids? After all, it is only the greatest investment of time, money, energy, effort, and emotion that you will make in your life. And after 18-25 years of this very intense investment they will probably do what they want and ignore you anyway, right? So what’s the fuss?
Everyone knows that parenting can be hard sometimes. We all worry over our children, but the good news is that parenting may not be as hard as you think! Now before you dismiss me as being delusional, let me explain. The Bible defines “one thing” you must do as a parent. Their discipline, education, nutrition, and training for life are important and not to be ignored, but you have one primary role as a parent. When you learn this role, then you will find everything else becomes manageable.
Before I define the one thing, allow me to make a confession. I do not claim to be a parenting expert. I used to be an expert. Then we had three children. Kim and I are not perfect parents and neither are our children. But thank God for his grace! So what I am about to tell you is not from our perfect experience but from the perfect and infallible truth of God’s Word.
The reason that parenting seems so difficult lies in one simple but significant fact – your child was born with a sin nature. This spiritual truth comes to us from the Bible, which tells us that we all sin and constantly fall short of God’s divine standards. You don’t have to teach your child to lie, steal, or be selfish. That comes naturally. But the Bible also teaches that there only one solution to our sin problem – and thus the problems of parenting – which is a faith relationship with Jesus Christ.
Psalm 127 tells us that children are a gift from God. It describes parents as mighty warriors and children as arrows in a warrior’s hands. Arrows are intended for a target. An arrow that never gets aimed and released never reaches its destination. If it never hits the target, then it does not serve the purpose for which it was made. Your job as a parent is to point your children toward Jesus Christ. That is your main job, plain and simple.
It takes God’s wisdom to get your arrows to the right target. Solomon wrote, “A house is built by wisdom and becomes strong through good sense” (Proverbs 24:3, NLT). Good parenting requires strong faith and a deep dependence on God. Here are a few practical tips for ensuring that your children are positioned to begin a real relationship with Jesus.
· Prioritize your own relationship with Jesus. You can’t give them what you don’t have. You will never be perfect but that is not a requirement. You can’t force them to have a relationship with Christ but you can help them see the authenticity of your relationship. That matters more than you can imagine.
· Work on your marriage. This may seem counterintuitive, but one of the greatest ways you can influence your children is by modeling a healthy Christian marriage. Your children must be your third priority according to the Bible. The healthy order is God first, your spouse second, and your children third.
· Bring them. Bringing your children to church makes your relationship to God a reality to them. It becomes tangible. Without making church a priority you are just blowing hot air when talking about a relationship with Jesus. I am not suggesting that simply going to church solves all your problems. But failing to be faithful to church certainly guarantees more problems.
· Involve them. It is one thing to attend church. It is another thing altogether to be involved with them. Studies show that 96% of children whose parents involve them in serving attend church as adults. Pointing your children toward a life-long relationship with Christ means that you don’t just bring them, but also that you get involved with them.
· Be consistent. If your children are normal they will have ups and downs at church. Sometimes they will think it is awesome and sometimes they won’t. They will have friend drama occasionally. That is totally normal. What you must do as a parent, however, is be the leader. Don’t let them decide about church. You would not let them decide not to go to school. You have spiritual authority in their life. Be consistent and they will be better for it.
There are no formulas that guarantee perfect children, but you can have perfect peace when you follow God’s Word. Having children is a challenge and a gift. You are just the parent God had in mind when he gave your children to you. You are a mighty warrior and your arrows will reach the target when you aim them right. Knowing that, I think you can agree that your job as a parent is easier than you imagined when you put them in God’s hands and point them to Jesus.