Parenting Series: Training our Minds Toward Truth before Training Theirs
As I am acutely aware of my own struggles along my parenting journey, it is with humility and grace that I write on this topic. Now that I am beginning to see my kids own their independence and faith, I thank God that they have turned out as well as they have, despite any lack on their parent’s part.
I will be the first to tell you that while I have done many things right and good according to living out my faith and loving my family well, I have also failed miserably at times. So, the advice I give here is true, not because I am an expert but because it is straight from Scripture. Any wisdom I share begins there. From that, I will offer some practical ways I have gleaned through the years to implement these biblical principles. There is no earthly wisdom that can match the perfect wisdom of God. And there is no example a parent can show greater than a person committed to living out these principles of love in day-to-day life.
My kids have stories they could tell of moments when I let my flesh lead me, when my patience wore thin, when my exhaustion weakened my good intentions, and when I reneged on promises made. They also have stories that involve humble apologies, forgiveness seeking, and pledges to do better. Just as God forgives us when we confess, they forgave me. That is grace, and I am forever grateful.
Real Life Parenting Mistakes
There was a time that I lost my temper with a certain teenage boy that rolled his eyes at me, leading me to stomp about like an ogre, collecting all of his valued electronic devices and tossing them into a trash bag.
There was also a time when a fun afternoon of homemade gingerbread-house making led to tears all around as I berated another child for not listening and following directions, thinking my money and time had been wasted.
I wish I could claim those were the only instances. I am sure that everyone reading has more instances of ‘less-than-stellar’ parenting moments than they would like to admit. If we are humble and self-aware, that is.
As I have grown in Christ as a parent, I have matured to see the love of Christ in a more powerful way in my own life. My eyes have seen what it takes to love humans in their fallen state. The concept of grace takes on new meaning in light of this understanding. God puts up with a lot from each of us. And yet, He loves us with an everlasting love. He showed up in our sinfulness to rectify a need we didn’t even know we had. His love sacrificed for our good.
And this is the love that is described in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7:
“Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” (ESV)
While this is a picture of God’s perfect love displayed through His character that we will never fully attain this side of Heaven, God does call us to imitate this love and practice or walk it out to those we are called to shepherd. He provides us with everything we need to succeed and more than enough grace when we don’t.
Our children are our sheep. We are responsible to train them in the things of God and to shepherd their hearts well. This takes time and intention which is the reason I write to encourage other believers to grow in their own faith and knowledge of God, so they can love their sheep as God intends.
Learning from the Master
We take lessons from abiding with THE GREAT SHEPHERD who watches over our children far better than we do. While we have a responsibility, it is God who holds us all and will provide in our weakness.
You can’t train someone in what you do not know. And if you deny the fact that your children need the loving discipline and guidance of a shepherd, you are not looking at the state of the world. Satan is devouring our young people today. The lies of the sex culture today along with the mental health crisis our nation is facing is staggering. If parents don’t strive and fight on their behalf, the enemy will be happy to speak into their lives, destroying their innocence and purpose.
Before I begin the series walking through the practical ways to parent out of a Christ-like love, I want to share a few mistakes that often hinder our ability to love purely.
Common Parenting Mistakes
1. Forgetting they are children and not little adults.
“When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me.”1 Corinthians 13:11
Paul reminds us that children talk, think, reason, and act like children. They are not miniature adults and therefore, will not always make mature decisions. They are curious about the world and have not figured out how it all works, so they experiment and riddle us with questions. They easily believe and seek to know. This innocence has to be protected until they can defend and protect themselves since they lack the discernment to know good from evil. Their innocence allows them to trust and hope without fear.
We are told that to come to faith, we must come as a child…humbly acknowledging our dependence on God but with full trust to be provided for and rescued by grace through faith.
It’s how young children can jump into a parent’s arms without fear of being dropped. It is a great quality but also a source of frustration for parents in daily living. Their innocence can lead them to jump into dangerous situations if they aren’t being supervised. As shepherds, we have to be on guard.
A young parent I know shared how their 5 year old son picked up a stick and ran it across their brand new vehicle, leaving a rather sizeable scratch. The dad went into crazy mode. When the mom asked him why he had done it, the boy said he was just playing and didn’t know it would hurt it. Children can be impulsive, curious, and lack discernment. They don’t know how things work until they experience and see it. God created this child-like wonder, so we shouldn’t try to stifle it, but it does have to be directed towards the good. Once they know, then it becomes a matter of heart discipline.
2. While they are dependent, kids are unique beings created in the image of God.
Our children have been entrusted to us for a time, but not to shape them into what WE want them to be, but to train them to flourish in their God-given purpose. We may not always like or be drawn to our own children’s personalities. While we train them to love God and live in ways that honor Him, we correct the wrong or inappropriate behaviors without seeking to “rewire” who God made them to be.
Sometimes we forget that even children have fears, desires, deep thoughts, and the ability to contribute. They aren’t tiny slaves to be misused for our every whim. And they aren’t responsible for adult decisions and responsibilities. Training them to work and take responsibility at appropriate age levels is good, but not giving thought to their unique gifts and abilities is ignoring them as individual people. Christ called the little ones to be with Him and didn’t dismiss them as an annoyance. Is that always easy? No. Does God see them as equal heirs to the Kingdom? Yes.
The New Testament shows us that Jesus loves children. For whatever reason, He chose us, imperfect parents, to bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. To walk and talk with them about God and His ways. To share the gospel message with them. To help them to mature into their own God-given design and plan for their lives.
It is a big task, but He equips all those who seek Him. He never promises we won’t grow weary or tired, but He does give us a place to find rest. And as we will see as we study the characteristics of love in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7, He wants to teach us how to train ourselves in the language of love so we can train our children to hear it.
I hope you will join me over the next week to look at practical parenting tips that can be applied in our daily interactions with our kids!
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Do you have any questions or comments about parenting that you would like addressed through Scripture? Leave a comment!