Parenting is challenging for every family, but it does not have to be an unresolvable puzzle. The Bible is full of information that can help any parent as they cooperate with God in this leadership opportunity. I’m going to share with you some of those tips with you.
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The best parenting advice that I have ever received was the exhortation to pray for my children. Paul Miller said that in his book, A Praying Life. His advice is timely, especially if you have come to the place in your parenting where you have exhausted all your tips and techniques on how to parent well.
I think most parents know the importance of prayer. There is something about holding an inconsolable crying baby that triggers thoughts of helplessness, which propels loving parents toward the hope-filled and transformative power of prayer.
These parents intuitively know that “Dear Lord, help me!” is as good as it gets. They launch into the mysteries of childrearing knowing that tips and techniques are useful, but prayer is better. Much better.
If praying for your children is not your number one parenting strategy, I highly recommend you move that tip to the top of your priorities. May your parenting be characterized by prayer. It’s wise. It’s humble. It’s effective.
Tips Two through Five
When serving new parents, with children that are under ten years old, one of the most common questions they ask is about their primary parenting focus. What should be their main focus?
These parents feel overwhelmed when thinking about the complexities of parenting. It can be discouraging. At times it can be paralyzing, and even more so after a Google search where 111,000,000 results jump out of your computer screen in 0.72 seconds.
Rather than becoming overwhelmed and demotivated by all the possibilities, what if you focused on one thing only. The main thing? What if this main thing was indeed the main thing that defined your parenting?
- What if you had a gospel-centered parenting model?
- What if Christ was standing in the middle of the room and you said, “He is our parenting model. Look at and emulate Him.”
I’m going to give you a few examples of what a gospel-centered parenting model could look like in your home. I also added a few actionable items–questions and thoughts–that you and your spouse could think about, as you practicalize your parenting around the gospel.
Follow Us As We Follow Christ
These four parenting tips are common sense attitudes and behaviors that roll out of the four imitation verses in the New Testament.
- Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. – Ephesians 5:1
- Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ. – 1 Corinthians 11:1
- What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you. – Philippians 4:9
- For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. – 1 Peter 2:21
Paul and Peter are appealing to their readers to imitate God. That is what I have done with these four parenting tips. I want you to think about them by asking yourself these three questions in this order:
- What was Jesus like in His day?
- What would it look like to imitate Him to my children?
- Who can I invite into this process for encouragement, insight, and correction?
With these things in mind, here are four attitudes and behaviors of Jesus. I want to you take these questions to your closet and work them out with the Lord.
Then share what you and the Lord talk about with your spouse for mutual improvement and accountability. Also, share with your children if they are mature enough to help you.
Kindness: Jesus Is Kind
- Are you kind to your children?
- In what ways do your children experience your kindness?
- As you model kindness to them, you are now positioned to instruct them how to be like you and Jesus (1 Corinthians 11:1).
Respect: Jesus Is Respectful
- Do you respect your children?
- Are your children regularly seeing you respect your spouse?
- As you model respect to them, you are now positioned to instruct them how to be like you and Jesus (1 Corinthians 11:1).
Self-control: Jesus Is Self-control
- What are your children more aware of from you: your self-control or your lack of self-control (Galatians 5:22-23)?
- How is self-control modeled before your children by how you react to them and your spouse?
- As you model self-control to them, you are now positioned to instruct them how to be like you and Jesus (1 Corinthians 11:1).
Serving: Jesus Is a Servant
- Jesus did not come to earth for others to serve Him, but to serve others (Mark 10:45).
- Are you characterized more as a servant to others or a person who expects others to serve you?
- As you model servanthood to them, you are now in a position to instruct them how to be like you and Jesus (1 Corinthians 11:1).
You must model and teach effective and transformative parenting–in that order–rather than instruct them only. You should be what you want your child to become because your children will grow into some version of you.
They will either model you or reject you, which is why you must model Christ to them. Christ modeled for us what He wanted us to become.
Practical Instruction on Structure and Support
Call to Action
In addition to the questions above, I’d like for you to read and reflect on 1 Peter 2:18-25 to discern how Peter presents Christ as our example while urging us to follow in His steps.
Discuss with your spouse (and children if they are mature enough) about how a gospel-centered lifestyle modeled has short and long-term benefits in your home and community.
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