1 Sam 8:1, 3: “When Samuel grew old, he appointed his sons as judges for Israel… But his sons did not walk in his ways. They turned aside after dishonest gain and accepted bribes and perverted justice” (NIV).
The Godliest parents in the world are not guaranteed Godly children. Why? Because children are free will creatures living in a fallen world just like their parents. They have the choice to follow our example and the instruction we give them, or not. Few would argue that the prophet Samuel walked with God as faithfully as most men. Yet, his children turned out so poorly the people demanded a king to replace them as judges. Samuel’s example and faithfulness were honored by God in many ways, but they were not reflected in the choices of his children.
Parenting is a journey with an uncertain destination. We can’t count on a good result just because we are faithful. There is no formula that will assure you your children will follow Jesus. You must place your trust in God, surrender your children to Him, follow God’s will the best you can, and leave the results to Him.
You must trust the result of your parenting to God.
1 Tim 4:16: “Be conscientious about how you live and what you teach.Persevere in this, because by doing so you will save both yourself and those who listen to you” (NET).
Being prepared for Godly parenting requires a close, daily walk with God. After all, He is the father of all mankind. He has had billions of children! And, He has recorded his thoughts and experience as an example for our parenting journey. Read the Bible through the lens of parenting and you will be amazed at the wealth of knowledge it contains.
In this passage, Paul tells Timothy he needs to be disciplined in his life before he can be effective in the lives of others. Later he tells him where the ultimate example is found, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Tim 3:16-17 NIV).
Bible study helps you emulate God and lets His wisdom shine through you.
1 Tim 1:16: “But God had mercy on me so that Christ Jesus could use me as a prime example of his great patience with even the worst sinners. Then others will realize that they, too, can believe in him and receive eternal life” (NLT).
Kids learn some of the most important lessons by watching the most influential people in their lives – their parents. They learn by watching your example, in good times and bad. And, in the bad times, when you act with anger, ridicule, condescension, selfishness, etc, you have an extra opportunity to model the humility that results from confession and repentance, and the mercy and grace that comes from being a child of God.
As your children grow, they will see you are not perfect. Hopefully, they will seek the source of perfection in the only place it can be found, God. You show them the way by demonstrating your response to imperfections – present them to God with a grateful heart, knowing His mercy and grace wipe the slate clean. What an opportunity to communicate the Gospel message to your kids in a practical, real life manner!
Be an example of God’s patience, mercy and grace; your kids are watching.
2 Cor 4:17-18: “For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal” (NIV).
God never wastes suffering. Trials work for us, not against us (James 1:2-5). If we trust God and surrender to Him, trials will produce patience, perseverance and maturity in the lives of our family. If we rebel and fight against our circumstances, we will remain impatient, impulsive and immature. God allows trials so He can build character into our lives. Warren Wiersbe gives a great analogy, “God can grow a mushroom overnight, but it takes many years – and many storms – to build a mighty oak.”
It takes an eternal perspective to see beyond today to eternity. Your kids are not likely to be able to do it without your gentle, guiding hand. As you empathetically walk through trials with them, you can model the faith, hope and love that allow you to look at tough situations as opportunities to grow and develop to be more like Christ.
An eternal perspective gives us the ability to see beyond temporary trials.