“Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God” (1 John 3:1).
As Christians, we have the amazing privilege to be called children of God. When we come to believe in and follow Christ, the book of John says that we are then given “the right to become the children of God” (John 1:12). There is no better parent than God. I am so thankful that I have ultimately been “parented” by Him (Psalm 27:10).
I did not grow up in a believing home. My parents were part of the hippie movement of the 60’s and early 70’s. Drugs, excessive drinking, and “doing what was right in their own eyes” was what life was about. Yet, Jesus drew me to Himself as a young girl and I surrendered my life to him at the age of fifteen. Since that time, not a day goes by that I do not feel the loving parenting of my heavenly Father.
Parenting is God’s idea. He models it for us and sets children in homes to be guided by parents who are ideally also guided by God. As parents we have the job of modeling God’s love and instruction to our children and passing on His gospel to them. Deuteronomy reminds us, “And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up”(Deuteronomy 6:6-7). God’s life, His love, and His Word are to be such a part of our lives that they naturally flow into every area of our lives and our time with our children.
Parenting is a tremendous privilege and responsibility that God has given to us. Our parenting can have lifelong effects on the future physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being our children. May the weight of this drive us to prayer, as I believe God intended it to. He knows we need His help desperately, and the difficulty of parenting well should lead us to God’s throne to ask for His help.
My husband, Pete and I have three, now nearly grown children (Isaac, Lauren, and Seth). Through the process of parenting we have certainly made many mistakes. However, we are delighted in God’s mercy as we see each of our children loving Jesus and walking with Him. In the end, we all look to Jesus to redeem the mistakes we make.
Over the years of parenting our children, we have implemented a few key principles, learned from our heavenly Father that we can pass on to you. This is not an exhaustive list, but instead, a few keys we have found essential.
Keep Love Central
Love must be the underlying foundation to everything we do as parents. God tells us in 1 Corinthians 13, that without love we are like sounding brass. We must continually check the motives of our rules. “Is love the motivation?” God’s love for us is the motivating factor behind everything He does. May we be imitators of Him and walk in love.
Keep the Rules Simple
The boundaries that God gives us are clear and simple. In the Old Testament law there were Ten Commandments, not 100. In the New Testament Jesus boiled all of the law down to two commandments: Love God and love your neighbor as yourself. As parents we need to model this simplicity, by making the guidelines clear and simple to follow. We need not be overly picky about things that are not really a big deal, and major on the majors of God’s love and demonstrated obedience to Him.
Follow Through on Your Word
God always follows through. He does not make promises He can’t keep. He also tells us that every jot and tittle of His Word will come to pass. We need to make it our aim to emulate God in this. Our words should count. Consequences for actions both good and bad, need to be consistent. Just as Galations 6:7 says, “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap”.
Overall, may God’s love, grace and peace rule in our hearts as we emulate Him in our parenting.