Formulas, recipes, methods. We like them because they produce predictable outcomes. We lean on them because we fear the outcome that we don’t want. We follow them because we want results.
Which is fine if we’re baking brownies. But raising children? Not so much.
Formulas are dangerous for children because
- all children are different
- all families are different
- formulas deal with inanimate objects with consistent properties
- formulas leave out a most important factor: RELATIONSHIPS
But we don’t despair. The Lord has given us principles–wisdom for life, and those are different than formulas. We need to understand the difference.
A recent commenter said (paraphrased): “I did all the right things and most of my children have left the faith.”
Isn’t this our fear? Of course to pour our lives into our children, praying for them and sacrificing for them in a hundred ways, hopeful that they will cling to our faith, only to have them reject their Creator is the most horrific thing a Christian parent can imagine. And this is why we cling so much to our formulas.
But here’s the essence of real, Christian parenting:
We cannot parent for outcomes. We must parent out of obedience, understanding (this is huge) that our children have been loaned to us, and we are stewards over them for as long as God has prescribed. (Just because reproduction is so easy to control does not give us ownership.) They are treasures–gifts, but not possessions. God’s jurisdiction is salvation, calling them to Himself as He ordains, and in His time, through the means prescribed to us–discipleship.
The Bible is full of principles for Christian living. We must be diligent to divide the Word carefully, applying its truth to our lives. Some applications we will disagree on. Others are (should be) black and white. But we must become students of the Word, not “tossed by every wind of doctrine” or looking to the culture for our standards for life. Principles guide our daily decisions, providing answers for every question in life, without the “checklist” that is not human-friendly.
I said earlier that “discipleship” is the prescribed means of bringing our children to a believing faith in Christ. That’s the essence of bringing the gospel to people, modeled by Jesus, and given as a command to us. Walking daily, pointing them, through the tangible challenges of life, to their need of a Savior, showing them the solutions to life’s problems from the wisdom of Scripture. All other is futile without an intimate relationship with our children. It’s hard. It’s hard because our faith must be real or all we do is transmit hypocrisy. But it is our job. It is ALL we have control over. We plant the seeds, water them faithfully and then leave the regeneration work to Him.
They are, after all, HIS.
(Need practical help and encouragement as a mom? When Motherhood Feels Too Hard–the book that will change the way you parent.)