I have to admit I was a perfect parent before I became one. I would guess this is true of all of us. I can remember saying, “when I am a parent, I wouldn’t (you fill in the blank).” When I became a parent, I immediately felt the weight of the task. As my children have grown, so to have I as a parent. I remember my youngest making a big mistake. He thanked me for handling it with such patience. I told him to thank God and his older siblings. The seeds that I sowed in parenting them he was reaping. None of my kids came with instructions. All three are different and need to be parented differently. However, although no individualized manual existed, I am thankful God, and His Word has always been available to me.
God’s Word, the Bible, clearly describes God’s expectations for parents. For one, God calls parents to be good role models for their children. Proverbs 1:8 makes this encouragement: “Hear, my son, your father’s instruction, and forsake not your mother’s teaching.” Our actions speak louder than our words. This is never truer than in our homes. Kids learn values, morals, and priorities not just from what they are told, but also by how their parents act and react every day. If parents model a love for and dependence on God, it is more likely, their children will learn to do the same.
God calls parents to train their children in the art of decision making. We gain this insight from Numbers: “Moses spoke to the heads of the tribes of the people of Israel, saying, ‘This is what the Lord has commanded. If a man vows a vow to the Lord, or swears an oath to bind himself by a pledge, he shall not break his word. He shall do according to all that proceeds out of his mouth’” (Num 30:1-2). This makes sense. We need to keep our word. What is interesting is that under Israelite law, parents could overrule their children’s vows. This helped children avoid the consequences of making foolish promises or costly commitments. What is implied here is that children ought to seek, and parents ought to provide help in making decisions. This does not mean that parents should not allow their children to learn from their mistakes by bailing them out of every bad decision and consequences. Instead, it realizes that good decision making is an art that must be learned, and parents are called by God to teach their children how to do so.
God calls parents to teach their children the Scriptures and how to apply God’s Word to their lives. We are to follow the teaching of Deuteronomy 6:6-7: “These words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.” We know God, in part, through the Bible. We learn how to walk with Him by understanding and applying His word to our lives. We are to ask His Spirit to guide our study of His Word with the purpose that as we seek to master Scripture, God masters us. We are to relate the Word of God to our daily living and, in our daily living, teach our children how to know our Lord and walk with Him. If you want your children to love God and follow Him, it is crucial that as their parent, you make God a part of your everyday experience. Parents are called to make an effort to teach their children to see God in all aspects of life.
God also calls parents to seek His will for their children. Look at the request of this mom: “Then the mother of the sons of Zebedee came up to him with her sons, and kneeling before him she asked him for something. And he said to her, ‘What do you want?’ She said to him, ‘Say that these two sons of mine are to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your kingdom’” (Matt 20:20-21). We can acknowledge that this mom probably didn’t really understand what she was asking, but we can’t question her heart in asking for it. She might have been misguided in wanting to see her boys promoted and honored. Although this is the desire of practically every parent. But, wanting to see them close to Jesus is a good thing. Simply put, a parent ought to desire for God’s specific will for their children. His will for them may not be glamourous, but it is always important. Parents are to want God’s will to be done in their children’s lives above everything else.
I am so thankful God, and His Word has always been available to me, especially in my parenthood. If you are a parent, caregiver, or a spiritual parent pouring into spiritual children, be encouraged. None of us are perfect, but as we are being perfected by God, we grow in our parenting. In the end, the greatest gift we can give to our children is modeling what it looks like to humbly surrender ourselves to God, seek His wisdom, and commit all things to Him, including our parenting and our children. Soli Deo Gloria (Glory to God Alone)!