As parents, God’s word is such a great gift to us. In a world that is constantly changing its mind about what is true, and good, and right, we have a sure foundation.
For he spoke, and it came to be; he commanded, and it stood firm. (Psalm 33:9)
Forever, O LORD, your word is firmly fixed in the heavens. (Psalm 119:89)
But God’s word is not an abstract set of principles spinning above our heads floating in space. It is not locked up in the Bible until we crack it open. God’s word is not bound. It is free and it has already broken into our world in a concrete way. The word has become flesh and we have beheld his glory in Jesus Christ. (John 1:14).
If you want to know what it looks like to parent your children according to God’s word, look to Jesus. He often called his disciples “children” (Mark 10:24, Matthew 9:2). If looked at from this angle, His life gives us many concrete ways we can help our kids “grow up” in the same way that he helped his disciples.
Consider these six patterns in the life of Jesus-
- He involved his disciples with him as he ministered to others (Luke 8:51, 9:16).
- He taught them the Scriptures (Matthew 5-7).
- He put them into risky and difficult situations (Mark 9:18).
- He spent time in lonely places praying without them (Luke 5:16).
- He spent time praying in front of them and teaching them how to do it themselves (Luke 11:1).
- He laid down his life for them washing their feet (John 13)
The list could go on.
But let’s stop there. How would these six patterns shape us if we saw them as parenting tactics?
It really depends on how old our kids are.
If you have a Newborn, then #6 is especially important. Let the word of God shape your parenting by performing the necessary routine functions of life such as cleaning, feeding, touching, and holding your child. By washing their face after a meal or giving them a bath before bed, you are putting their needs first. You are truly allowing God’s word to guide your parenting.
If you have an elementary school age kid, #5 is crucial. They need to hear you talking to God about your hopes, your needs, your worries. And they need you to teach them how to do the same thing themselves.Teach your kids to pray and pray with them regularly, in the car, before bed, whenever and wherever. This is parenting according to God's word.
If you have a teenager, #1, #2, & #3, are indispensible. Involve them with serving others, take them with you when you serve meals for the homeless, use their skills and talents when you are raising money for that good cause, open the Scriptures with them and expect them to get their hands dirty with ministry to the real world. Don't just send them to do it. Do it with them.
And of course #4 is something every parent has to make time for. "Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed." As his followers we will do the same.
But, if you find making time for personal prayer is impossible as a parent, take heart. You are not alone. Children demand a lot of our time and attention. But breaking away to quiet places to pray and meditate on God’s word IS possible. And it is as important to parenting as breathing. Following Jesus in this way is how we make sure we do not “copy the behavior and customs of the world,” but instead “let God transform us into a new person”. (Romans 12:2). Without this pattern we will fall into the trap of motivating our kids with fear instead of love. And we will begin to look to them as our justification in the world instead of looking to Jesus. (If you want to start prioritizing personal prayer check out this other post).
As a parent of 5 children, ranging from 15 to 6 years old, I know how demanding and exhausting it can be. When we feel ourselves sinking we seek for solid footing anywhere we can get it. But God’s Word embodied in Jesus Christ is truly the surest foundation we can find.
Do you see other patterns in Jesus’ ministry among his disciples that we should incorporate into our parenting? Comment below and let us know.