Often, we as parents measure our “successfulness” by the outcome of our parenting: We value ourselves and other parents based on “how our kids turn out.” Maybe we have it backwards. Now, I’m not saying that how we parent doesn’t influence our kids’ choices; it certainly does. At the same time, though, our kids make their own choices. It simply doesn’t make sense to measure our parenting solely or primarily based on our children’s choices. Instead, God invites us to compare ourselves to His desire for us — as parents, as His children, as individuals.
Micah 6:8 offers a few standards to which we can all aspire: “He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?”
Not “just do it,” but “do justly.” What does that mean? It matters what we do. A strong sense of what’s right and wrong can only be established as we walk in the Word of God, constantly measuring our own attitudes and behaviors against His holy standard. Taking the time to do right — by our spouses, our kids, our coworkers, our neighbors — will often mean doing less of the impressive and frivolous stuff our world values.
Certainly, modeling righteous living in front of our kids isn’t the only way to influence them, but it’s a really important one. And we keep doing right even if they don’t follow our lead. Why? It’s not about getting a particular parenting outcome, but about obeying our God.
Have you ever identified with the older brother in the story of the Prodigal Son? Have you felt a tinge of frustration over the thief on the cross who accepted Christ during his last moments on earth? Someone who has a heart after God loves to see sinners repent and delights in God’s mercy and grace in others’ lives. What’s more, that kind of truly godly person loves to shower forgiveness and kindness on those least deserving of their love.
Sometimes, a sense of justice may not allow you to shower your teen with gifts or rewards, but even then, would you love to be able to do it?
What gets in the way of just (righteous) living and merciful, loving attitudes? All too often, it’s our pride. We value our own ideas over God’s, and we feel like we deserve good gifts. We don’t like to sacrifice for others, especially those most in need of grace. When we walk humbly with God, though, our light shines brightly before others — especially our kids. When we respond curtly to their much more uncontrolled tirade, yet we repent before God and ask their forgiveness, they’ll see His supernatural power shining through our lives.
Maybe they won’t respond the way we’d like. Maybe they won’t follow our lead. That’s up to God and them, not us. But at the end of the day, we’re responsible for how we lived out God’s requirements of us. Mom, Dad — how are you turning out?