Parenting By The Book Versus The Insanity Of Parenting In Real Life

Govind Trio

Parenting books tend to make everything sound so simple. So cut and dry. Very equation like. If this, then this. If your child disobeys, then you help them evaluate their heart motive, then you discipline them if necessary, then you affirm your love for them, then you send them back out into the world as productive, cheerful, God-honoring members of society. Boom, boom, boom. If you follow this time-honored equation, your kids will be born again in no time.

Okay, maybe the books aren’t quite so extreme, but you get my point.

In recent years, however, I’ve discovered something that has made slightly less enthusiastic about parenting books: my children are insane. No doctor would diagnose them as insane, but they are insane nevertheless.

When my children sin, it doesn’t happen in nice, linear fashion. Sin simply detonates in my house. Charis selfishly tells Ella that she can’t use the coloring book. Ella screams at Charis, then throws a pair of scissors at her. Meanwhile, Gwendolyn is pulling the Windex out from under the sink and getting ready to clean out her mouth. It really is like a scene out of some sort of demented sitcom called “Dad In Charge”, starring Ray Romano or Tim Allen.

When this happens, I dutifully wade into the fray, trying to sort out who did what and trying to keep Gwendolyn from poisoning herself. I try to figure out motive and heart issues. I try to discipline appropriately. I try to bring the Bible to bear when appropriate. But most of the time, things don’t go according to the book. Many times Ella is beyond reason, and is simply screaming and throwing herself on the floor. When she gets to that point, the only thing I can do is send her to room until she calms down. Charis is currently in a stage in which she denies all culpability in every situation. She has the innocent martyr act down really well. No matter how much I push the issue, she swears she is innocent. Gwendolyn…well, Gwendolyn is two, and she is a maniac. A cute maniac, but a maniac nonetheless. And to top all this off, I’m often dealing with my own sinful heart as I’m trying to help my kids deal with their sinful hearts. I wonder if I can get a reality TV show deal?

My point in all this? I’m going to parent my kids as best as I can, according to all the wise principles I’ve learned from the Bible itself and authors. But when it comes down to it, God absolutely must be the one who saves my kids. 

The hearts of my children are too messy, my wisdom is too limited, and my heart is too sinful in order to successfully shepherd my children into the kingdom of God. Only God can do that, and that actually gives me a great amount of comfort. I firmly believe that God will save my children. I also firmly believe he will use all my successes and failures as a parent in order to bring about the salvation of my kids.

I see my own life as a prime example of this. My parents were the absolute greatest, without a doubt. But like so many other parents of the late 1980’s and early 1990’s, they were reading parenting books that placed a heavy emphasis on behavior and little emphasis on the heart. Talking to my dad now, I know that he regrets the times when he placed too much emphasis on my behavior and too little emphasis on my heart. (For the record: my dad majorly changed his stance on this, and began seriously emphasizing the heart.)

My parents made lots of mistakes and God still saved me. I’m making lots of mistakes, probably more than my parents, and yet I’m still confident that God will save my kids. Why? Because he is faithful to use my our frail, small efforts. Because he often works in spite of me. Because he loves my kids even more than I love my kids. Because he is good. Because I regularly pray that God would supernaturally cause my children to come alive to him, and I know that he answers prayer.

Don’t freak out about being the perfect parent. You’re not the perfect parent, and you never will be. Simply seek to be faithful, and then entrust the results to God. He won’t disappoint.

We Need To Stop Blaming Parents For “Wayward” Teens

 

photo credit: mark sebastian via photopin cc

photo credit: mark sebastian via photopin cc

Did you hear about Ben?

No I didn’t. What happened?

Well…this isn’t gossip, it’s just so you can pray for him. He got caught smoking pot. Apparently he’s been doing a lot of drugs lately. And I think he might be sleeping with his girlfriend.

Really? That’s sad. Maybe his parents need to get more involved in his life. You know, bring more discipline. Keep him in line. That’s what I do with my kids. I lay down the rules in my house, and if they break the rules, they pay the price. If I caught my kids smoking pot, they’d face some serious consequences. My kids would never smoke pot.

Keep him, and his parents, in your prayers. They need it!

We’ve all had an experience similar to the one described above. A teenager in the church gets caught in sin. Maybe it’s drugs, sex, an eating disorder, cutting, or porn. It doesn’t really matter what the issue is. What does matter, is how quick we are to assign blame to the parents of the child.

Many of us, either consciously or unconsciously, hold to the idea that if we do all the right things as parents, our children will turn out okay. If we educate them properly, faithfully teach them the Bible, and pray for them on a daily basis, they will become Christians, pursue holiness, avoid sin, and serve faithfully in the church. We treat parenting like some sort of divine equation. If we input the right things into our children, our children will then output the right things. If this, then this.

When a teenager goes AWOL, we immediately assume that the his parents must have failed him in some way. His parents must not have brought enough discipline into his life. His parents must not have prayed for him enough, read him the Bible enough, sent him to VBS enough. If his parents had done the right thing, the child wouldn’t be plunging headlong into sin.

We really need to stop blaming parents for wayward teens. 

Two reasons.

First, only God can cause a teenager to be born again. In reality, there is no such thing as a “wayward” teen. There are only two types of teenagers: spiritually dead teens and born again teens. A spiritually dead teen will always act according to his nature. He will plunge into sin with great delight, because that’s what sinners do. That’s what you and I did before God caused us to be born again. It shouldn’t surprise us when a teen in the church dives into sin. If he isn’t born again, that’s exactly what we should expect him to do.

In Romans 8:7-8, Paul describes the unconverted teenager:

For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.

The unconverted teenage girl is hostile to God. She absolutely cannot submit to God’s law, and she absolutely cannot please God. We shouldn’t be surprised when she has sex with her boyfriend. After all, isn’t that what non-Christians do?

Should her parents do all they can to restrain her from sin? Of course. But the reality is, they may be able to curb her behavior, but they can’t change her heart. Only Jesus Christ, the mighty warrior and sinner’s friend can accomplish such a great task. When we blame parents for the sinful behavior of their teens, we put the parents in the place of God. We must stop expecting parents to do what only God can do.

The second reason we need to stop blaming parents for the sinful behavior of their teens, is that blaming cuts the parents off from what they desperately need. When a dad is dealing with the craziness and heartbreak of a son on drugs, what he needs most from those in his church is shoulders to weep on. When a mom is dealing with her sexually active daughter, what she needs most is to be reminded of the mighty God who saves even the hardest of sinners. Parents don’t need condemnation or criticism, they need grace. They need their fellow brothers and sisters to come alongside of them, to pray with them and to pray for them.

As members of the body of Christ, we are called to bear on another’s burdens, and there are few burdens heavier than parenting. There are few things that weigh heavier on a parent than the salvation of their son or daughter. When we blame parents for their teenager’s sinful behavior, we fail to help the parents bear the heavy burden they are carrying.

Are parents called to faithfully shepherd their children in the ways of the Lord? Of course. Will parents fail in a variety of ways? Of course. Despite these things, let’s stop blaming parents for the sinful behavior of their teens. When a teen in the church is sinning, let’s come alongside her parents with love, prayer, and support. Let’s fulfill the law of Christ by loving one another, instead of blaming one another.

Follow me on Facebook and Twitter:


Facing off with Bullying

origin_4686704193

Bullying is real. It’s also really exaggerated. Somehow collective “wisdom” has decided that any time one person is mean to another it’s bullying. That’s not bullying; that’s being a jerk. People have been jerks since Adam and Eve got a hankering for fresh fruit.

Bullying is more than simply an insult or a fistfight. It is the consistent or systematic targeted abuse of someone vulnerable by someone (or someones) stronger. A bully is the guy who always steals lunch money from the same kid or the group of girls who decide to start an online smear campaign of a classmate by spreading rumors and posting embarrassing photos.

What we call bullying is a monster of our own making. We call all every mean person a “bully.” My kids would be horrified by my casual use of the word bully; to them it’s like a curse word (three cheers for public schools). We make bogeymen and misfits out of so-called bullies. They wear the scarlet letter and are marked by the black spot. It is horrifying and shameful; they must be dealt with!

Sometime back we forgot that conflicts are to be resolved, matters settled. Instead, the bullying mantra creates a division by labeling one person as evil and the other as victim. No longer can the “victim” stand up for him or herself with voice or fists. One child can’t pop a bully to defend another. Just as bullying is the bogeyman, confrontation is the Black Death. And so there isn’t any resolution.

The best way to eliminate bullying is to stop emphasizing it. The same wisdom that decided all meanness was bullying decided that the more we point bullying the less it will happen. That’s garbage. Bullying isn’t just a bad action like selling drugs or stealing cars. It is psychological warfare and thrives on fear. The fear in the bully drives him to make others even more afraid. And the more we “see” bullies hiding behind every insult and under every conflict the more we feed the fear. We must be aware but not paranoid.

What would happen if we raised kids who won’t stand for injustice? We don’t want vigilantes and bullies who bully the bullies, but neither do we want tiptoeing tattle-tales who won’t look a bully in the eyes and tell her to knock that crap off. We need to teach our kids to stand up for those who are vulnerable. We need to give them the support they need so when they face the attacks they can be strong then come home for comfort and encouragement then go do it again the next day. Our kids don’t need to be fighters (although that’s not so bad); they need to have conviction that picking on the weak is unacceptable. Some will be strong and silent and others will hit back. Either way, it is this conviction and action that will put bullying on its heels.

photo credit: Profound Whatever via photopin cc

God Better Save My Kids Because I Sure As Heck Can’t

Right now my hands smell like poop.

Well, not right now because I just washed them. But they smelled like poop a few minutes ago. Why? Because my 18 month old daughter Gwendolyn has figured out how to take her diaper off. She’s gotten into the habit of taking off her diaper while still in her crib, which often results in her and her crib being covered in poop. Oh yeah, and my hands also get covered in poop as I clean her off.

So often parenting doesn’t feel like parenting. It feels more like riot control, and I’m using the word “control” veeeeeerrrrry loosely.

Family devotions often feel the same way. I’ve got all the right resources. I’ve got the Jesus Storybook Bible and The Big Picture Story Bible and Big Thoughts for Little Thinkers. I’ve read Shepherding A Child’s Heart and am regularly trying to address heart matters with my kids. But despite all these great resources my family devotion times often feel more circus than sacred.

I’ll gather Charis and Ella and Gwendolyn together in the living room, and for the first 15 seconds everything looks very promising. Then Charis and Ella will get into a grudge match over who gets to sit on the couch. So I sort out the grudge match. By the time I get everything sorted out it’s likely that both of them will be crying and saying things like, “I never ever get to sit on the couch ever!”

Then we start reading. The reading usually goes something like this…

Joseph’s brothers were not kind to him at all. They were jealous of…Charis please stop laying upside down off the couch!

Joseph’s brothers were jealous of the coat his father…Ella if you don’t stop playing with Kleenex box you’re going to have to go lay on your bed.

Joseph’s brother’s were jealous of…Gwendolyn give me my iPad!

They were…yes Ella you have a coat just like Joseph.

And on and on and on. It takes 20 minutes to read a few pages. By the time we reach the end of the story I’ve pretty much given up on being heart-oriented, gospel-centered, and all those other hyphenated words I’m supposed to be. I’m just trying to make it to the end.

I believe in the doctrine of election because it’s in the Bible. I also believe in the doctrine of election because I have kids.

I desperately need God to save my kids because I know I sure as heck can’t. If I were ultimately responsible for the salvation of my children I would have a complete nervous breakdown.

I’m not saying biblical parenting isn’t important. Of course it is. But biblical parenting doesn’t produce saved kids, only God does that. 

My parents did a wonderful job of faithfully teaching us from God’s word. We regularly had family devotional times. But I often fell asleep during family devotions. There were many times when my hard heart simply didn’t want to hear what God’s word had to say. When my dad wanted us to wake up at the crack of 8 AM for family devotions during the summer I told him very clearly, “You are ruining my summer.”

My parents were faithful to teach me God’s word, but they couldn’t make my heart come alive. Only God could do that. And praise God, he did make my heart come alive.

When God saved me all the things my parents had taught me began to slide into place and lock together, like a jigsaw puzzle being assembled. The Holy Spirit would bring things I had been taught to mind and would use those things to convict me and change me. The seeds my dad had been scattering for years finally began to blossom and bloom.

Right now parenting feels part biblical, part survival, and part insanity. But I have faith God will save my kids. Not because I’m doing a bang-up job as a parent, but because God is faithful. I believe God will use my feeble efforts to bring forth good fruit in my kids lives. I believe God will use the seeds I’m desperately flinging. I believe God will save my kids because he is mighty to save, not because I’m mighty to teach.

Gotta go. I smell poop.

+Original photo by shane o mac

Parenting Is 99% Insanity and 100% Jesus

The parenting books make it all seem so simple, almost like a mathematical formula. The books lay out a simple set of steps to follow in every set of parenting circumstances. Root/fruit, circle of obedience, heart of the matter, cravings and conflicts, gospel-centered, etc. If I simply follow the steps, my children will become examples of godliness and cleanliness (which, for some odd reason is next to godliness). And I truly am grateful for books like Shepherding a Child’s Heart and all the other ones whose titles elude me at the moment.

But to be honest, many times my parenting looks very little like Shepherding a Child’s Heart and very much like a mid-80’s sitcom. For example, I’m standing in my kitchen when I hear my daughter Ella emit a witch-melting-ish scream. I take a deep breath, run through my mental parenting checklists, then go into the living room.

“Okay Ella, what is the problem?” I ask. Ella is laying in a pitiful heap on the ground, angry tears pouring down her face, creating a tear/snot mixture.

“Charis took all the stars!” she screams. I have no idea what she is talking about. Her and Charis are watching Dora the Explorer (or “Dora the Devil Spawn” as I prefer to call it), and from my limited observations, there are no stars to be found anywhere in the living room. There are Barbies, Polly Pockets, 80 kajillion Polly Pocket accessories, plastic food, and books, but certainly no stars.

“What?” I ask, thoroughly confused.

Charis chimes in. “There were stars on Dora and we had to catch them. I caught them all before Ella could catch any.” Ah. I see. Charis caught all the pretend stars and would not allow her little sister to catch the pretend stars. This fits right in with that fantastic parenting book The Lord of the Flies.

I run my current situation through the parenting matrix. Charis obviously needs to…What it comes down to is that Ella is craving…If they both want to be in the circle of God’s favor they must…nothing. I blank. I can’t come up with any good answers. All of my biblical strategies go out the window, and all I manage to say is, “Ella, please don’t scream at your sister.”

It’s in these situations that I’m reminded that my parenting must be 100% reliant upon Jesus. Yes, I am called to raise my children in the fear and instruction of the Lord. Yes, I’m called to teach them the gospel. Yes, I’m called to bring appropriate discipline into their lives. But ultimately, I only plant seeds. The Lord must be the one to save my children. He must be the one to cause them to be born again. I cannot do it. I cannot be the Holy Spirit.

Does God use my efforts? Of course. But is the salvation of my children ultimately dependent on my efforts? Thankfully not. I do the sowing, he does the saving. My sowing may feel like insanity most of the time, but that’s okay. He uses the weak to shame the strong. He uses the foolish to bring low the proud. And he uses the insanity of my parenting to prove that he is faithful in spite of my weakness.

I’ll keep reading the parenting books. I’ll keep trying to shepherd my children. But more than anything, I’m going to pray my butt off that Jesus does his mighty saving work in my children. I’m confident he will.

Are You Making People In Your Image?

In a post last week we discussed how seeing every person as made in God’s image helps motivate us to love those who are different than us. We were thinking primarily on evangelism, on loving the lost whose preferences and priorities seem like barriers to us. In those situations, seeing the image of God in the tatted up biker or the suited-up choir boy compels us to find common ground and share the hope of Christ. It’s hard. It stretches us. But then isn’t comforting to know that if God saves those people, he’ll change them so they get rid of all those weird differences? They might even begin to look a bit like you. Because everybody who is saved and becoming mature (like you) is bound to begin to think and act more like you, right?

Ouch. It hurts to air my secret thoughts that baldly. But if I’m honest I often work from this hidden assumption: the more people mature, the more they look like me. (Don’t leave me hanging here! Admit it, you do too.) For some reason, though, my church and my family and my relational world are constantly full of people so different than me! Boy do they have a lot of maturing to do.

Thankfully there’s more of God’s truth functioning in my heart than that. I know diversity is a good thing, something God has designed. But I need a theological foundation for that belief, because it is hard to escape the sinful tendency to think all godly people look and think alike. Here’s where the doctrine of the image of God comes in. It’s not only for evangelism or theology tests. It needs to be part of the way we view our spouses, our kids, our church family, and every close Christian relationship we have. In salvation, God is remaking people in his image – not yours, and not mine. That means differences are by God’s design. No single human being can come anywhere close to reflecting the fullness of the infinite God. The more your spouse, child, or fellow Christian becomes like Christ, the less they’ll look like you.

A personal story here. I’m the oldest of five kids, raised in a Christian household with godly parents and siblings. I became a pastor one year after college. My sister after me got married and started a family. This seemed like the start of the normal American Christian path. Then something happened. The remaining brothers and sisters started seeking the Lord for their own futures, and started saying crazy things about what God was showing them that didn’t at all sound like my plan for their futures. I wanted to sputter like a broken motorboat engine, “But, but, but, but….that’s not what this was supposed to look like!” My siblings, however – and God – ignored my engine noises and proceeded down paths leading a lot of places I hadn’t expected. And gradually God has reminded me that this is okay, because he’s remaking my siblings in his image, not mine.

Can you relate? That’s the challenge: are we content to help people become like God, even if that means becoming less like us? Parents with teens, can you let go of your dreams for your child’s future (athletics, ministry, taking over the family business, whatever) and allow God to mold them in his image? Wives and husbands, can you let go of your plans to finally make your spouse “see things your way,” and instead thank God for putting you with a person who differs from you? Pastors, are you fighting the temptation to make a church of clones and instead simply be an assistant to the master Sculptor as he refashions your people according to his own designs? And church members, is it enough to you that God is at work in your pastor or in your fellow believers – even if that means they upset the equilibrium of sameness in your church?

Diversity stretches. It breaks down walls, walls that need breaking. No Christian can reach their potential in Christ confined by the limits of man-made uniformity. Our recreation in God’s image, when it is complete, will one day shout the glory of God to the entire cosmos (see Eph. 3:10). And you know what? That is worth a little stretching and wall-breaking in the present.

 Image by Easter Island Traveling

 

Dear Moms, Jesus Wants You To Quit Giving A Rip What People Think About You

I write this post at the risk of becoming the world’s first male mommy blogger (even that combination of words makes me feel uncomfortable). But, at the encouragement of my wife, as well as my friend and fellow author Trillia Newbell, I’m going to write one more post. Deep breath…feeling secure in my manhood…here goes.

Moms, you really need to stop giving a rip what other people think about you.

I know that it’s tough. You go on Facebook and  see comments like, “Any mom who bottle feeds her baby must be devil spawn!” Or,  you’re in the moms and infants room at church, and someone says, “I just can’t see how any godly, loving parent could send their children to public school.” Or someone includes you on an email that includes a rather shakily researched article about how all processed food absolutely causes cancer. The email concludes by saying, “We can’t stand for this any longer!” You happen to be eating a bowl of Lucky Charms as you read the article.

When you read these things and hear these comments, my guess is that you’re tempted to think, I’m an absolutely terrible mother! And everyone knows it! Everyone knows that I bottle feed my kids, send them to public school, and regularly feed them Lunchables! And God is probably displeased with me too, because I’m not loving my kids enough. You can feel the opinions of others breathing down your neck. You start making plans. Only organic from here on out. Homeschool, or unschool, or private school…or military school. No more television. Ever. Unless it’s an educational documentary on PBS, and even that is questionable. Awww shoot, you already vaccinated your kids! Is there a way to unvaccinate them?

Stop. Okay? Just stop. Finish your Lucky Charms, eat a big bowl of gluten, then come back and finish this article.

Now please understand, this is not an article in favor of or against schooling, vaccinations, organic food, bottle feeding, breastfeeding, television or anything else. This is an article AGAINST sinful fear of man and being overly concerned with what others think about you.

Moms, your security and identity are not found in a particular practice of parenting. Your security and identity are found in Jesus Christ. If you have trusted in Christ as Savior, you are joined to Christ. If you are joined to Christ, that means that God wholeheartedly, unabashedly, without reservation approves of you. He delights in you. You are his daughter. He sings over you. You can rest in that. It doesn’t matter what other moms think of you. It doesn’t matter if they don’t like the fact that you feed your kids bologna sandwiches for lunch. You have all the approval you need in God, through Christ.

Your job as a mom is to first and foremost, love God with all your heart. Run hard after him. Pursue holiness and godliness. Read the Bible and pray your heart out. Your second job is to love others. If you’re married, worry more about pleasing your husband than pleasing other moms (husbands should do the same, but that’s for another post). If you and your husband come to the conviction that you should feed your children organic food, great! If the two of you realize that you can’t go hard core organic for cost reasons, that’s also great! Whatever you do, don’t let the fear of what others think guide your actions.

When it comes to your kids, you main job description is to raise them up in the ways of the Lord. It would be better to feed your kids Lucky Charms than to spend hours researching a particular subject and neglect this primary duty. Focus on raising your kids to love Jesus. If you come to the conviction that you should send your kids to private school, that’s fine. But don’t do it out of fear of what others think. Let your thinking be shaped by God’s word, not the words of others.

Remember, the fear of man is a snare (Proverbs 29:25). It will actually snare you as you seek to be a mom. So rest in Christ. In Christ, God approves of you. Completely. 100%. Not 99.9%, 100%. Obey God’s word, pursue holiness, love your spouse, love your kids, and hold the rest loosely. If people don’t approve, who cares?

The next time you’re tempted to worry what others think about you, remember that you are secure in God, and that’s all that matters.

Dear Moms, Jesus Wants You To Chill Out

FACT: If your children can’t read by age four there is a 95% chance they will end up homeless and on drugs.

FACT: If your children eat any processed food there is an 85% chance they will contract a rare, most likely incurable disease, by age 12.

FACT: If  you’re not up at dawn reading the Bible to your children, you are most likely a pagan caught in the clutches of witchcraft.

FACT: If your children watch more than 10 minutes of television a day there is 75% chance they will end up in a violent street gang by age 17.

Obviously, the “facts” listed above are not true (at least, I don’t think they are). But, I’ve noticed that the Internet has made it much easier for people, and moms in particular, to compare themselves to each other. Now, just to be clear, this is not a post against “mom blogs”, or whatever they’re called. If you write a mom blog, that’s cool with me. This is a post to encourage the moms who tend to freak out and feel like complete failures when they read the mom blogs and mom Facebook posts.

Moms, Jesus wants you to chill out about being a mom. You don’t have to make homemade bread to be a faithful mom. You don’t have to sew you children’s clothing to be a faithful mom. You don’t have to coupon, buy all organic produce, keep a journal, scrapbook, plant a garden, or make your own babyfood to be a faithful mom. There’s nothing wrong with these things, but they’re also not in your biblical job description.

Your job description is as follows:

  • Love God. This simply means finding some time during the day to meet with the Lord. It doesn’t have to be before all the kids are awake. It doesn’t have to be in the pre-dawn stillness. Your job is to love God. How you make that happen can look a million different ways.
  • Love your husband (unless you’re a single mom, of course). Your second job is to love and serve your husband. Husbands are to do the same for their wives, but that’s for a different post. If your husband really likes homemade bread, maybe you could make it for him. But don’t make homemade bread simply because you see other moms posting pictures of their homemade bread on Facebook.
  • Love your kids. Your calling as mom is to love your kids and teach them to follow the Lord. They don’t need to know Latin by age six. If they do, more power to you. But that’s a bonus, not part of the job description. Your job is simply to love your kids with all your exhausted heart, and to teach them to love Jesus. That’s a high calling. Don’t go throwing in other, extraneous things to make your life more difficult. If you want to teach your kids to sew, great. But don’t be crushed by guilt if your kids aren’t making stylish blazers by the age of 10.

Moms, Jesus want you to rest in him. He wants you to chill out. His yoke is easy and his burden is light. Don’t compare yourself to other moms. Don’t try to be something God hasn’t called you to be. If the mom blogs are making you feel guilty, stop reading them. Be faithful to what he has truly called you to do, and know that he is pleased with you. When your kids are resting, don’t feel guilty about watching an episode of “Lost”, or whatever your favorite show may happen to be.

Love God, love your husband, love your kids. Keep it simple and chill out.

+photo by pedrosimoes7

By Our Words And Our Lives

A picture is worth a thousand words.

“The just man walketh in his integrity: his children are blessed after him”  (Proverbs 20:7).

Anxiety about our family is natural, but we shall be wise if we turn it into care about our own character. If we walk before the LORD in integrity, we shall do more to bless our descendants than if we bequeathed them large estates. A father’s holy life is a rich legacy for his sons.

The upright man leaves his heirs his example, and this in itself will be a mine of true wealth. How many men may trace their success in life to the example of their parents! — Charles Spurgeon

We teach our children by our words and our lives. Our example says as much as our words.

Let us seek to be examples for our children in:

Our love for Jesus – may they see us having regular devotions. May our children see us ask forgiveness. Let them see us turn away the anger of others by gentle answers.  Let them see us ask forgiveness and humble ourselves and confess our sins. Let them see us serve others. May they see our example of trusting God in affliction. May they see us serve the Lord with gladness. Let our children see us worshiping God expressively. May they see the fruit of the Spirit in our lives.

When Your Child Isn’t Doing Well In The Lord

There are few trials so tough on a parent as having a child who is not doing well with the Lord whether that child is young, a teen or grown.

When a child rejects the Lord and/or his parents, it’s grieving, sad, stressful, and a constant weight upon a parent’s heart. A couple suggestions:

  • Continue to love your child unconditionally– don’t make your acceptance and love for your child based upon whether they love Jesus or you
  • Continue to try to model Jesus Christ to your child
  • We should be more grieved that our child does not see the glory of Jesus than we are by their sin.

Not only can God save a child whenever he desires, but he can use the challenge of a rebellious child to produce good fruit in a parent’s life. Here are a few ways:

  • It humbles us
  • It help us rely on God not methods
  • It exposes our own sin – anger, pride, fear of man, looking down on or judging others
  • It makes us more compassionate and merciful
  • It stretches our faith
  • It teaches us to do good to those who sin against us expecting nothing in return
  • It drives us to seek God in prayer – for our child’s salvation, for wisdom, for grace
  • It produces patience, perseverance and long-suffering
  • It gives us an infinitesimal taste of what we’ve done to Christ and what God experiences every day from mankind
  • It reminds us of our own past sins against our parents
  • It reminds us that only God can save

Don’t stop thanking God for your child and praying for him or her. Remember, the prayer of the righteous is powerful and effective, even if it doesn’t feel that powerful or effective. And the arm of the Lord is not too short to save – he has a perfect timing for every person.