As parents, God has given us such a great privilege and responsibility. Babies are a sweet and precious gift, adorable bundles of (mostly :D) sweet-smells and moments with this amazing power to capture our hearts, thoughts and hopes and make them soar. Most people LOVE the baby stage, even with its struggles of adjusting to lack of sleep, and express disappointment at how fast their babies grow, how quickly the time passes.
I know, I’ve seen it fly faster and faster with our children over the past 8 years.
Babies grow into toddlers, toddlers grow into kids, kids grow into young men and women…. and you begin to realize that the joy that began at babyhood is about to multiply over and over – but with it comes a lot of hard work, prayer and tears. LOTS of prayer and tears.
And he told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart. (Luke 18:1)
For now our little sweet babes are growing into young men and women. And now more than ever before they need our wisdom, encouragement, love and discipleship. They are our mission field, we are the first opportunity they get to hear and respond to God’s word.
But who am I to teach them, how on earth do I do it, and where do I look for wisdom?
Who are you? You are those childrens’ parents, the ones God has given to them to be their examples. You are the ones they love and respect the most.
How do you do it? You pray. A lot. And you gather those around you who are like-minded to pray with you and support you. And honestly, YOU don’t really do it. But you allow God to do it through you.
Where do you look for wisdom? It is so important for the truth of God’s word to be taught to our children. But we must first seek it and know it ourselves. This is a very weighty task, yet one that is filled with joy, and one that we are not left on our own to figure out. God’s word is so filled with instruction for us as parents – how to teach, train, discipline, disciple. It’s all there for us to discover, we need only read and pray with an open heart, then turn around and teach.
But then there’s the struggle of SIN. This enemy of ours which constantly rears its ugly head in our own hearts, and threatens too often to take us down in our weakest moments. This struggle which we then see staring us back in the face, by the very same behaviours our children exhibit.
And we are devastated. Grieved. Humbled. Tempted to give up. I am not the best mom for my children! How can I possibly teach them when I struggle so? I am setting a horrible example!
Lies, my friend! These are all LIES! The devil is prowling around like a lion, looking for someone to devour, and that someone is parents. Parents whose hearts’ desire is to teach and disciple their children, but their sin is staring them in the face and they are ashamed and feel like they can’t do it. Well, they can’t. YOU can’t. Not on your own strength, not by your own endeavors.
Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the Lord of hosts. (Zechariah 4:6)
But by the Spirit, you can, and will.
He has made YOU the best parent for your child.
He has given YOU this blessing and opportunity.
He has given YOU a soft heart to recognize your own sin, turn from it, repent, and grow.
What can you do with the feelings of inadequacy? Pray and get into the word and find the scripture to fight the lies.
What can you do when you feel like you don’t know how to deal with certain attitudes? Pray, examine your own heart, identify them in yourself. Dig into the word and use what God has been teaching YOU about that certain sin to gently guide and instruct your children.
Beware the beam in your own eye as you try to help your children remove the speck from their eyes, when you are calling out sin in the hearts of your children.
Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye. (Matthew 7:3-5)
Because God has gifted you with so much. Don’t take the opportunity to jump all over them about how they’re doing this same thing AGAIN, and didn’t we just talk about this?!
Examine your own heart first, see that most likely you have either struggled with the same thing, or just plain see that you have struggled! Be honest with them about your struggle, they will respect and love you more for it, as you pour on grace.
Their precious hearts are in your hands. We have so much more of an influence on our children than I think we ever truly realize. They look to us for affection, approval, guidance, love, wisdom, fun; copying our expressions, attitudes, behaviours. We want to be their friends, want them to love us and imitate us, but more importantly, we want to be their parents, and be good at it, to point them to the Lord. This is a life-long commitment friends, and one we do not have to go alone.
Colossians 3:21 is a verse that has really convicted me a lot.
Fathers (and mothers), do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged.
How can we provoke our children? By responding in anger to a situation; being short- tempered, unfair; yelling at them, again, to hurry up, or stop doing whatever we had told them already to stop doing; by placing unfair expectations, restrictions and restraints on them; by ignoring them; by responding in frustration to their struggles with sin.
Provoking reminds me of poking someone in the eye, over and over again, and it can happen much more easily than we’d think. And it’s usually after we’ve done it that we realize what just happened.
Provoke. Embitter. Be hard. Irritate. Resentful. Indignation. Exasperate. Nag. Bitter. Vex. Fret and harass.
These are all words used to represent the idea of provoking our children. It paints a pretty clear picture doesn’t it?
Lest the become discouraged. Lose heart. Spirit broken. Lost hope. Disheartened. Sullen and morose.
“By perpetual fault-finding children are discouraged or disheartened. A broken-down spirit is fatal to youth.” (Jamiesson-Faucet-Brown Bible Commentary)
Parents, if you want to be a good leader and example for your family, remember the grace God has given to you.
- Confess your feelings of inadequacy, and your sin, and ask him for help.
- Search his word, seek him in prayer.
- Teach God’s word to your children.
- Be open, honest and real with them that you struggle too!
- Pray for and with them.
- Give grace.
- Be careful not to provoke them.
- Ask forgiveness.
- DON’T LOSE HEART.
And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. (Galatians 6:9)
Resources for Encouragement and Instruction for Parents:
THE BIBLE! First and foremost :0)
Resources for Teaching God’s Word to your Children:
Clay and Sally Clarkson – Our 24 Family Ways: A Family Devotional Guide
Doorposts bible studies
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