“The highest privilege and purpose of a parent is to lead the child in the way of Christ.” – Max Lucado
Well, it’s that time of year again. Time to start gearing up for school. Doesn’t it feels like summer goes by faster and faster every year? It seems like I blink and it’s time to buy school supplies!! And while I really do love the structure of a school year, there are some things I dread. Things like homework, carpool lines, extra traffic on the roads, super early wake-ups, and did I mention homework? Yuck! While all of those things definitely stink, the thing I dread most is what my child is exposed to.
My daughter will be entering her 1st year of middle school this year and truthfully, I’ve been dreading this for a while now. Middle school is just tough. It’s bigger, there’s more kids, more responsibilities, and don’t get me started on puberty!! It’s like a world of its own. And these days, it seems kids are exposed to so much more at such a young age! Blame it on technology, or what ever else, but the fact is you really have to prepare your kids for info overload at a much younger age now. The biggest problem with this is some parents are choosing to just bury their heads in the sand and not address whats going on. They have the “not my kid” mentality. Well, if you consider yourself a Christian, I pray this is not your approach. Sure, there is no such thing as a perfect parent, but that doesn’t mean we get to just check out when it comes to raising well equipped kids ready to face the world. Today, my focus is going to be on what I feel it looks like to raise faith filled kids in a broken world. I believe in my heart that we as parents are called to be that light for our children. And I also feel we often times drop the ball. As Lindsey Bell puts it, “The goal of parenting isn’t to create perfect kids. It is to point our kids to the perfect God”.
Room to Grow
I consistently have to remind myself that even when we are away from our children, even when they are away from our authority, they are never away from God or His authority. As parents, we tend to want to hover. It’s just our nature! But, at some point we have to give some space. Space for our children to become who they are. And hopefully, if we have in fact done our job correctly, they will blossom in that space. I don’t know about you, but I personally don’t want my daughter to be who I want her to be more than I want her to become everything God created her to be.
Many parents believe that parenting is only about fully controlling their child’s behavior and training them to be adults. And I really don’t disagree, it is important that children behave well and are well-mannered adults (eventually). But, don’t we as parents have to first control our own behavior and allow God to show us how to parent without controlling everything? It’s a fact that children learn what they live. So, if we are in fact showing our kids the love of Christ, teaching them truth and leading by example then don’t we at some point have to trust that they will make wise decisions? As scary as that is to actually do, it’s really the only way for your child to become who God is calling them to be. Now will they always make the right choices? Absolutely not. But that’s where grace comes in. I mean truthfully, do we as adults always get it right? No way! We need grace quite often ourselves! As parents our job is to take care of the possible, and then let God handle the impossible. It is not our job to control their every move. They need room to grow.
Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it. Proverbs 22:6
Lead By Example
“God works through faithful parents who, in spite of dark and difficult days, walk obediently to Him.” (Elizabeth George) I always say, parenting isn’t for the weak at heart! I mean we all know parenting is nothing short of a wild adventure of faith. Faith that we are doing it right. Faith that these little humans we are in charge of turn out ok. Faith that we are screwing them up for life! It can be a lot to swallow. But, the good thing is we don’t have to do it alone! Our heavenly Father would love nothing more than to help us be the Godly parents He desires us to be.
Your kids are a reflection of you. How you behave, things you say and things you do. They are always watching, even when we don’t think they are! What if instead of simply telling them all the right ways to act, we instead showed them through our actions? Whether we like it or not, we are the model of Christ to our kids. We are the model of what it looks like to lead others, love people and worship Jesus. What do your kids see when they watch you? Are you daily reading your Bible? Do you pray for more than just dinner at night? Do you pray at all in front of them? How do you treat others? Is church a priority? Are you serving? Do you surround yourself with good, encouraging friends? Do you put others first? Do you make time for God? Do your words match your actions? These are the things your children need to see you do, and do well. We can’t fault our kids for not doing things we ourselves aren’t in fact doing. The best way to point your child to Christ is by living a life that exemplifies Him.
Two combined influences make a greater impact than just two influences. Children raised in a Christian home, good! Kids who are involved in church, good! Both of those are good influences on their own. But, when combined they become great! It’s very important that church and families work together to impact kids. Christian parents play a very important role in their child’s faith, but they are not the only adult influences kids need. Parents need other adults pouring the same truths into their kids. I strongly believe your kids will have a much better belief in Jesus if they are not only hearing it at home from mom and dad.
If you don’t have a church that believes this theory, find one. Get your kids in front of other believers who can and will reiterate the truth you are telling your kids. Your kids will thank you for it one day. And I truly believe it makes our job even just the slightest bit easier to know we have help. We have an entire group of people who want nothing more than to come alongside us and help teach the next generation who Christ is and what His plan for their lives looks like. And also they will pray for your child, love your child and listen to your child. Sometimes, kids don’t want to talk to mom and dad. Give them another Christian adult leader to share things with. I don’t know about you, but I’d much rather them talk to someone at church than a friend at school who possibly doesn’t believe the same.
As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another. Proverbs 27:17
Being a parent is a lot of responsibility. But it can also be so rewarding. I pray that you are taking the role seriously and are making it a point to invest daily in your child’s spiritual life. They are influenced by so many things and so many people. If we aren’t intentionally pouring into our kids, trust me something or someone else will. Try not to focus so much on perfection and just be involved. Kids don’t need to see perfect parents. Actually, they need to see imperfect ones who heavily rely on a perfect God to help them. There are tons of great resources out there on parenting, find something that speaks to you and read it! Find other Christian parents and have them come alongside you! Maybe even ones that have already been through the parenting phase you’re currently in. Whatever way you find helpful, just stick with it. Don’t bury your head in the sand and pray it all works out in the end. Remember, God has given you this child, you are called to show and teach them the love of Christ.