Parenting | The Good Stuff
Monday— Children are a heritage from the LORD, offspring a reward from him. Psalm 127:3
A reward, you say? We can forget that they’re rewards after a sleepless night with a baby or a defiant teenager. But God wants us to value our children the way He does. Valuing our kids does not mean spoiling them or making life all about their wants. It means welcoming them into our lives, even when they’re inconvenient. It means recognizing that God created them for His purposes, not ours. A parent’s job is to help a child discover that purpose. We do that by instilling His truth in their hearts from infancy, guarding them from harmful influences, and living what we teach—without making idols out of them.
On the flip side, though, are couples who long for children and cannot have them. God sees that ache and cares about it. In fact, the desire for children pleases Him. But that desire can also become an idol. When we are convinced that we cannot be happy without a baby, we get angry at God for not providing one. That’s when a godly desire crosses a line and becomes an ungodly obsession. Separating healthy desires from unhealthy idolatry is a lifelong pursuit for every Christian. We must be diligent to guard our hearts against desires that cross the line. If we don’t keep surrendering them, they compete with God for first place in our lives. Living in right relationship with God means that no desire is allowed to displace loving devotion to Him.
Final Thought: To agree with God about children means we refuse to let children OR childlessness become an idol.
Prayer: Father, you know those deep desires in my heart, but I look to you to meet that desire. Whatever your plan is for me, I accept it as a gift. May I find fulfillment in partnering with you in the purpose you’ve chosen for me. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Tuesday—Jesus, knowing their thoughts, took a little child and had him stand beside him. Luke 9:47
Preschool and early elementary. Aren’t they cute? The innocence, the funny things they say. One dandelion bouquet has the power to erase a full day of aggravation. But little kids are extremely vulnerable and defenseless. They have no power. No vote. They can be subdued by a playpen. So Jesus pulled a preschooler on His lap to teach his disciples about greatness. “See this little guy?” He said. “If you want to be great, welcome him. Rock babies. Take in foster kids. Volunteer in the nursery. Clean up messes you didn’t make. Change diapers and wipe spit-up off your best suit. If you wanna be great, serve kids.”
Parents at home with little ones are the unsung heroes of the world. Little sleep. Hours, days, without adult conversation. Hard-earned degrees/ certifications slouch in the corner while we scrub vomit out of the carpet at 3 AM. There are few things more humbling than trying to look like you have it together after walking the floor all night with a colicky baby. Or showing up in public smelling like a dirty diaper. Humility is proudly showing off your five-year-old to the in-laws only to have Junior spout the foul word he heard on TV moments ago. Children humble us and that was Jesus’ point. To be great we have to stay humble, so He sends us humbling situations. Like parenthood. We’re most like Jesus when we quietly clean up messes we didn’t make, stay patient when we want to blow up, and love people who aren’t acting loveable. Only then are we on our way to greatness.
Final Thought: Serving little ones positions us for greatness—IF we don’t forget the lessons.
Prayer: Father, help me not forget the lessons I’ve learned in serving when I wasn’t praised for it. That’s what you did, Jesus, so help me become like you and seek my approval from God alone. Help me see greatness like you do. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Wednesday— Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it. Proverbs 22:6
“But we did!” many parents cry. “We weren’t hypocrites. We had him in church, we taught him at home, we loved and disciplined him the best we knew how…and look at him! He couldn’t be worse if he’d been raised by wolves.” In this day of increasing wickedness, many Christian parents are finding this verse painful. They trained that child from infancy on, but he DID depart from it. And he has stayed departed. So what are those parents to think? After the self-doubt, grief, and guilt subside, they need to take another look at that verse. It is a proverb, not a promise. A principle, not a guarantee.
Proverbs are wise sayings that are generally true. The book of Proverbs makes many of those kinds of statements, such as “Lazy hands make for poverty, but diligent hands bring wealth” (10:4). Is that always true? Of course not. But it’s a principle that is generally true. Many young parents mistakenly believe that if they just “do everything right,” their children are guaranteed to turn out great. But it’s impossible to train the sin nature out of anyone. We’re sinners and our children are sinners and sometimes they’re determined to follow that sin no matter what we do. So while God commands parents to train their children in His ways, we are only responsible for obedience—not the results of that obedience. Even with our kids.
Final Thought: If your children are still home, train them in the way they should go. They will most likely continue in it.
Prayer: Father, help me remember that no one could train the sin nature out of me, and I cannot train it out of anyone else. But I want to do everything I can to train the children within my influence in the way you’d have them go. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Thursday— When I was a child, I spoke as a child, thought as a child, and reasoned as a child. But when I grew up, I put away childish things. 1 Corinthians 13:11
-“I don’t see why our family can’t move to Canada. Dad could get a second job and can I train for the Olympics,” pouted 12-year-old Mindi. “That’s where all the good coaches are. It will only cost about $80,000 a year.”
– “Is that lady mad at you, Mom?” asked 6-year-old Johnny. “I wasn’t trying to bother her. But her backside was HUGE, right in front of me, covered in spandex. It looked so smooth I had to run my hand over it!”
Every parent has hilarious stories related to their child’s limited understanding of the world. We laugh good-naturedly because we know they are children. But those events should be teachable moments so a child learns what is acceptable and what is not. The problem comes when children don’t grow up and continue to do childish things as adults. It is a parent’s job to make sure that doesn’t happen and we do that by giving children opportunities to succeed or fail and reap the consequences of their decisions. Parents who always catch Johnny or Mindi so they never fall, blame the teachers, blame the neighbors, and never hold children responsible, are priming them for a life of immature decisions. God designed us to grow up, learn hard lessons, and accept loss and failure with dignity. A parent has done a good job when an adult child puts away childish things.
Final Thought: Are you preparing your child to live in the real world, a world where not everyone is a winner?
Prayer: Father, help me evaluate my parenting style. Am I defensive when someone points out my child’s error? Do I fight all their battles for them? Do I blame or do I help them accept responsibility? Help me help them grow up. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Friday— The student is not above the teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like their teacher. Luke 6:40
“I don’t know how she turned out like this,” moaned Iris. “We sent her to church. We let her do things she wanted. We told right from wrong. But she’s an ungrateful jerk! She dresses like a hooker, trashes her car, lies to us, and now she’s in jail. And she’s not even sorry! She thinks jail is cool. What happened?” Nora laid a hand on her friend’s arm. “I’m sorry,” she said. “I know you love her, but I was always concerned about the people you let influence her. You sent her to church; you didn’t take her. You told her right from wrong; you didn’t model it. You said one thing and did another. She idolized Eminem and Beyoncé and you never corrected her. The movies and TV shows you let her watch saddened me. Now she’s become like her teachers.”
This verse should be a wakeup call for 21st-century parents. Who is actually teaching your children? Kids don’t learn just because we want them to. Faculty aren’t the only teachers at school. Don’t forget the cool dudes with porn, the hot girls with drugs, the valueless curriculum instructing them about sexuality. Every kid thinks they need a smartphone, but access to the internet provides a world of teachers eager to indoctrinate your child. What’s on your TV? What music plays in your car? What books and magazines come into your house? Your child will be like his/her teachers. Be sure you’re choosing the teachers.
Final Thought: Who or what is really teaching your child? Study their heroes, their entertainment choices, and their friends.
Prayer: Father, do I have blinders on? I trust that the places I send my kids will reinforce my values, but maybe they’re not. I don’t want to be ignorant at my children’s expense. Help me be wise in choosing their teachers. In Jesus’ name, amen.