A month before my daughter’s due date, my wife came into the kitchen with a look of shock on her face. “I think my water just broke.” Stunned and my brain trying to process the news, I asked a dumb question, “Are you sure?” Oh, she was sure. In a rush, we gathered what we needed and went to the hospital. There, the doctors told us my wife needed a C-section soon. Soon, as in, “We’ll do it in 15 minutes.” There was no time to worry. No time to think, really. Our daughter has decided to make an early arrival.
At 4:22 PM, our daughter, Magnolia (“Maggie”), came into the world. Despite being born a month early, she was healthy, and after two nights in the hospital, we were released. After putting little Maggie into her car seat for the first time, we pulled out of the hospital parking lot. As we left the safe confines of the hospital where a team of doctors and nurses had cared for us, it suddenly hit us. We were now parents, and she was our responsibility. In that moment, we felt a mix of joy and fear. Joy for God’s gift of a healthy daughter. Fear (terror even?) because we have a BIG responsibility resting on our shoulders from here on out.
In the weeks since I’ve been thinking about what it looks like to be a godly parent and raise – and disciple – our daughter. Maggie is our first child, so this whole parenting thing is new for us. We don’t just want our daughter to be a well-behaved, good citizen who does well in school, gets a good job, gets married, and has kids of her own. Of course, we want all those things for her, but we want more for her. We want her to know Jesus. Who he is, how he taught us to live, and what it looks like to follow him. Like him, we want her to grow “in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man” (Luke 2:52).
Lately, I’ve been asking myself, “What can we do to prepare our daughter? What can we do to build a strong foundation of faith in our family? What does it look like to parent with a plan and with intentionality?” In my search for answers, I came across a few resources I found helpful in understanding the calling of God in being a parent and the vital role parents play in discipling their children. These resources vary from short and easily digestible reads to longer, more time-intensive teaching and curriculum. Feel free to explore the ones that could help you with the questions you might have as parents in raising your children to know, love, and follow Jesus.
PARENTING WITH A PLAN
Jeff Reed, author of the 10-week curriculum Parenting with a Plan by BILD International, writes in the introduction:
As parents, you are key to the development process of your children. You need a plan. That’s why this process is called Parenting With a Plan. By going through this process, you will develop an overall philosophy, framework, and strategy for parenting in this new technological age and have a strategy for each child ages 0–22. That will include developing a long-term, secondary school strategy, assuring the solid launch of your sons and daughters as they enter adulthood, whether you choose home schooling, private schooling, or government (public) schools for their general education.
In 10 weeks, this simple and intense curriculum helps parents build a parenting philosophy, framework, strategy, and master plan, including a plan for every child or emerging adult. The curriculum is presented in three parts. In Part I, parents develop an integrated parenting philosophy, framework, and broad strategy. In Part II, parents build a master plan for parenting. Part III includes seven advanced parenting modules, which can be completed in one week or at intervals of a child’s development into adulthood.
For more information about Parenting with a Plan from BILD International, contact Lauren Linz (firstname.lastname@example.org).
What does the Bible teach us about the role of a parent and the goal of biblical parenting? In his article The Goal of Biblical Parenting, Juan Sánchez employs alliteration in answering this question by giving the pre-requisite, practice, and purpose of biblical parenting.
The pre-requisite of biblical parenting: “The truths of God must first be on our hearts.”
We cannot pass on to our children what is not first in our own hearts (Deut. 6:6). This means that moms, dads, grandparents, teachers, ALL of us must saturate ourselves in the Word of God. We must seek God and thirst after God as in a dry and weary land (Psalm 63:1). And where has God revealed Himself but in His Word? We must continually listen to and receive God’s instruction in His Word as illuminated by the Holy Spirit of God.
The practice of biblical parenting: “We must pass on what we know about God, His Word, His work, and His ways to the coming generations.”
Just what exactly should we be teaching our children? The psalmist answers: we are to teach our children God’s Word, work, and ways not just for the sake of Bible knowledge but for the sake of a personal knowledge of a powerful God. We are to share with our children the praises of God; we are to remind them of His strength in delivering us from death and for daily struggles; we are to tell them of His wondrous works from creation to redemption to personal answered prayers!
The purpose of biblical parenting: “That the coming generations might put their hope in God.”
The goal or purpose of biblical parenting is not mere Bible knowledge or well-behaved kids; the true goal of biblical parenting is that the coming generations may not forget God but instead, set their hope in God (Psalm 78:7). We should be painting such a large picture of God in our homes as we talk about Him and His strengths and His wondrous works and His glory, that our children would have confidence in God, not in this world or the things of this world.
Author, pastor, and father of four Paul Tripp offers hope and a new perspective on parenting in his four-session streaming conference Parenting: It’s Not What You Think It Is. Rather than give a list of do’s and don’ts, Tripp teaches principles of how God calls parents to raise their children and explores the challenges of raising teens and pre-teens in an overly sexualized culture.
In Session 1 (Give Up Control), Tripp explains how “the goal of parenting is not to control your child’s life; they will quickly outgrow your authority and be independent individuals. Don’t miss the big picture of what God has called you to do.” In Session 2 (Shape Their Character), Tripp teaches that “your children will reveal their lack of character over and over again. Learn how to lovingly expose the sin in their hearts and point them to the forgiveness of Jesus.”
In Session 3 (Thrive in the Teen Years), Tripp offers hope to parents of teens. “Culture portrays this period of life as a chaotic season to be survived, but the Bible is very optimistic about what can be accomplished. Learn how to make the most of the teen years and help them successfully transition from childhood to adulthood.” In Session 4 (Rest in God), Tripp reminds parents that God is a Good Father who gives everything we need to parent well and faithfully. “Parents who rest in God will experience abounding joy as a mother or father. This hope-infused conclusion will remind you that God never calls you to raise your kids without first providing you everything you need.”
In an article for Desiring God, Paul Tripp lifts the reader’s eyes off of self-help, “follow these steps” advice and on to Jesus and his life-changing gospel:
If you desire not only to cope but to thrive with vision and joy as a parent, you need more than seven steps to solving whatever. You need God’s helicopter view of what he’s called you to do. You need the gospel of Jesus Christ to reveal the foundational principles that will not only help you make sense of your task, but will change the way you approach it.
Often, these biblical principles are counterintuitive to the natural principles of our flesh. Nevertheless, they’re essential to understanding who we’re supposed to be and what we’re supposed to do in all things, including parenting.
Here are Tripp’s “fourteen overarching themes in Scripture that, when properly understood, offer a vivid picture of God’s calling for parents” from his book Parenting: 14 Gospel Principles That Can Radically Change Your Family (Crossway: 2016):
- Calling: “Nothing is more important in your life than being one of God’s tools to shape a human soul.”
- Grace: “God never calls you to a task without giving you what you need to do it. He never sends you without going with you.”
- Law: “Your children need God’s law, but you cannot ask the law to do what only grace can accomplish.”
- Inability: “Recognizing what you are unable to do is essential to good parenting.”
- Identity: “If you are not resting as a parent in your identity in Christ, you will look for identity in your children.”
- Process: “You must be committed as a parent to long-view parenting because change is a process and not an event.”
- Lost: “As a parent you’re not dealing just with bad behavior, but a condition that causes bad behavior.”
- Authority: “One of the foundational heart issues in the life of every child is authority.”
- Foolishness: “The foolishness inside your children is more dangerous to them than the temptation outside of them. Only God’s grace has the power to rescue fools.”
- Character: “Not all of the wrong your children do is a direct rebellion to authority; much of the wrong is the result of a lack of character.”
- False Gods: “You are parenting a worshiper, so it’s important to remember that what rules your child’s heart will control his behavior.”
- Control: “The goal of parenting is not control of behavior, but rather heart and life change.”
- Rest: “It is only rest in God’s presence and grace that will make you a joyful and patient parent.”
- Mercy: “No parent gives mercy better than one who is convinced that he desperately needs it himself.”
GOD PARENTS YOU
Eventually, our little Maggie will start school and, little by little, be exposed more and more to the harsh realities and lies of this world. She will grow and learn, and we, as parents, want to be her primary teachers, not the world. We want to make our home the first and most important “school” she ever attends. A home where she sees faith lived out throughout life’s ups and downs. A home where Jesus is talked about, celebrated, and worshiped. A home where the gospel story frames the many joys and sorrows we experience along the way as a family.
My wife and I are learning as parents, and we will continue to learn. And in our learning, teaching, trying, succeeding, and failing – in all of it – God is working on and in us as he is working on and in our daughter. Or, as Paul Tripp reminds parents:
In all these things, it’s not just about the mission that he has sent you on, but the fact that he has gone with you. Parents, God faithfully parents you, so that by his faithful grace you can, in turn, faithfully parent your children. In every moment of parenting, our heavenly Father is working on everybody in the room.
Chris Loux – Communications Director, CityChurch Network