In Part 1, we considered our parenting goals and how they might be different from God’s ideal. Too often, we take our cues from the godless world around us without even realizing it. Sure, it’s natural to want our kids to make us proud, but is that really a worthy and godly goal? Could God be using even those embarrassments to break and mold our children — and us, as parents — into more useful clay which He can mold into vessels that honor Him? (2 Tim. 2:21)
Modeling Godliness for Them
As parents, it’s easy to get caught up into an outcome-based goal-setting mentality. We all know kids aren’t mere “products of their environment,” though: each is a human being who has an individual will. While we may wish raising children were as reliable as a chemical combination, favorite recipe, or mathematical equation, reality is what it is.
However, God’s desire for us as parents is to model godliness in front of our children. And that will likely help us achieve the outcomes we desire, too; like any well-learned lesson, effective teaching often begins with repeated and thorough modeling. The do-as-I-say-not-as-I-do approach has no merit, in God’s eyes. As parents, we are responsible for our own words and actions, which certainly encourage or discourage various reactions from our children.
Being Honest About Ourselves
When we make even a mental list of our spiritual goals for our kids, we would do well to hold ourselves up to that standard and be honest before God about how we measure up. If our measuring sticks are anything like His, we’re not doing too well. The first of the Ten Commandments is the most important one, and it’s the one we’re always breaking, acting as if we’re more important than the God who made us.
True godliness begins, not with keeping the commandments — or being self-deceived into thinking we are — but with realizing that we fail at it all the time. According to Psalm 51:17, it’s that broken, repentant, humble heart God wants. We’d rather give Him our perfectly performed acts of goodness and service, but that’s because of our pride. When we’re honest about our own sinfulness, we’re closest to our Lord.
Replacing Harshness with Grace
When we realize how undeserving we are of God’s favor and forgiveness, we can begin to appreciate His mercy and grace. Only when we realize how grace-rich we are will we be willing to pour out that grace on others, including our kids.
We’ll catch ourselves saying things like, “You can’t really be sorry if you keep doing the same thing,” and find a lump forming in our throats, knowing God forgives us over and over for the same sinful thoughts and actions we’ve been going back to for years (Matt. 18:21-23).
We’ll stop short of angry, self-righteous rants and grieve over the fellowship with God that our kids forfeit when they sin. We’ll ache and plead for them to make things right so they can experience the joy of salvation and abundant life Christ came to give us (Psalm 51:10, John 10:10).