Parenting is no easy task. For Christians, it carries an additional burden: to raise children in the ways of the Lord. Since the Bible contains very few details about parenting, it becomes a walk of faith and submission. We need to daily rely on the help and sustaining arms of the Lord. Parenting stretches us and shapes us like no other experience on this earth. And there is no higher calling.
In this post, we are going to get back to basics regarding Christian parenting and talk about the goals of a Christian parent. In the two subsequent posts, we will address the methods and the pitfalls common to Christian parenting.
Goal #1: To instill Biblical Principles. Contrary to some secular theories on human nature, children are not blank slates (or tabula rasa). They come pre-wired with original sin. Just spend about an hour with any toddler and you will see what I mean. Therefore, one goal of a Christian parent is to teach and train children regarding God’s standards (including the Ten Commandments and what Jesus taught in the New Testament in fulfillment of the law, such as loving your neighbor). These are important truths, essential to biblical parenting. However, sometimes parents get stuck focusing on this one goal when there are at least three more that are just as important.
Goal #2: To develop godly character. Let’s use a metaphor of gardening. If we think of the first goal of Christian parenting as the pruning and shaping of a shrub (with a focus on what shows), then the development of godly character is more like the watering and fertilizing of the plant (with a focus on what is happening beneath the surface). To be sure, the development of godly character can come through training and discipline. But it will develop stronger roots if we seek out the reasons behind misbehavior through open and honest exploration and discussion with our children. Parenting is so much more than a list of do’s and don’ts. We need to spend as much time addressing their hearts as we do their behaviors.
Goal #3: To obey. You may want to follow this goal with a hearty “amen.” But if you realize that I am talking about your obedience, rather than your children’s, you may have a different reaction. As I said above, parenting challenges and stretches us. One thing that God wants from Christian parents is a heart that is in obedience to Him and His word. This requires prayer, study, and godly fellowship. We need to completely depend on Him daily with the goal of submission and obedience to His will.
Goal #4: To transfer the love and obedience your kids have towards you to their heavenly Father. This is our ultimate goal. As much as we love our children, God loves them more because they are His. We are their stewards, their caretakers during their lives on earth. Like a foster mother raising an infant, we care for them with all our hearts, with the underlying goal of preparing them to seek after His. Children who can obey, trust, depend upon, and listen to their earthly parents, will have a much easier time transferring those qualities to their Father in heaven.
Next . . .