When I look at my children I often wonder who they will be as adults. I get glimpses of their strengths and weaknesses. My children are awesome kids but they are not perfect and I have to remind myself that they are nor by my efforts perfectible. They are, however, the future leaders, parents, and shapers of society. How do I and my wife lead them to grow into their full potential?
One thing we attempt to do is raise our children through a model of intentional grace-based parenting. Our children are just like their parents in that we are all in desperate need of God’s amazing grace. Like most parents we do set guidelines that we hope are wise for them individually and corporately as part of our family. We constantly keep returning to the Bible as a guide to help us discern how we should be raising our children. The Bible teaches us that as Christians, we are supposed to “not provoke them to anger” and “to bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord”.1)See Ephesians 6:1-4, see Hebrews 12. Parenting is a job– and at times it can be tough. We strive to mold and sculpt our children in the direction that we hope they will go their entire lives. Nobody wants to think that they may mulligan such an important responsibility. I love the moments when I see my children going the right direction. Moments of watching my kids show true empathy, unmerited kindness, or loving service to their siblings or someone else. I love hearing people compliment my children when they exercise good manners. There are also times when I want to put our children in a box and send them away to live at the zoo. I am amazed at how loving play turns in to a WWF match that threatens World War 3 at a moments notice. Parenting is never all good or all bad. It is generally a mixture at least for us. The number one thing that we try (and the keyword is try) to do is to focus on leading our children to Jesus.
“Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.”
Jesus’ words recorded in Matthew 19:14 and paralleled in Luke 18:16 tell us that Jesus views children as valuable! Luke’s account even adds the detail that parents were bringing infants to Jesus. It is never too early or late to start bringing children to Jesus! Jesus tells us that the Kingdom of God belongs to children. That is a pretty bold statement.
It’s a good question to ask why Jesus would say this. Children are not perfect. They throw temper tantrums. They can be selfish. They can be mean. They can make you want to lose your sanity at times, especially when you take them on long trips. So why does Jesus say the Kingdom of God belongs to children such as these? It’s the same reason it belongs to anyone that is truly a child of God. Children are a perfect example of dependency. As a parent it is sometimes hard to juggle affirming my children in their identity and holding them accountable as they struggle with their own doubts about their limitations, including their short-comings and areas of sinfulness. They look to me and my wife to affirm them and they long for grace when they blow it.
Their strengths and their weaknesses become tools to be used in the hands of the Master Carpenter as we bring our children into Jesus’ presence.2)See Mark 6:1-6 and note that like the people of Jesus’ hometown of Nazareth did not receive hardly any blessings from Jesus. Their lack of faith in Jesus limited what Jesus could have done in their lives. If we do not have faith then it prevents the power of the Holy Spirit to transform and Jesus from working his perfect will. Just as they failed to exercise faith and trust in Jesus, then we too can fail to trust our children to be guided by Jesus if we fail to constantly be working towards daily bringing them in to the presence of Jesus. However, we must be wise to learn from those 1st century parents. They knew that for their children to receive God’s blessing then they needed to bring their children to Jesus. In effect, they were saying that they trusted Jesus to do a work in their children’s lives that they as parents could not accomplish on their own. They were capitulating ultimate growth of their children into God’s hands. It is also good news for us to acknowledge that we are not our children’s master carpenters. Carpenters by trade are builders. They take the plans and do the work of building but on every job site there is a foreman that directs the rest of the workers regardless of the workers’ skills. Jesus is the Master Carpenter. He is the one that sculpts souls and he is the chief foreman that knows how our children should be built. He knows our children better than we do.
So how do we bring our children to Jesus? We do it by making Jesus an intentional part of our private and family life. We strive to point to Jesus as the King of our lives. We strive to paint the story of Jesus on the canvas of their lives and trust God with the rest.
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|1.||↑||See Ephesians 6:1-4, see Hebrews 12.|
|2.||↑||See Mark 6:1-6 and note that like the people of Jesus’ hometown of Nazareth did not receive hardly any blessings from Jesus. Their lack of faith in Jesus limited what Jesus could have done in their lives. If we do not have faith then it prevents the power of the Holy Spirit to transform and Jesus from working his perfect will. Just as they failed to exercise faith and trust in Jesus, then we too can fail to trust our children to be guided by Jesus if we fail to constantly be working towards daily bringing them in to the presence of Jesus.|