“Ouxano” is a Greek word meaning “Growth” used throughout the New Testament in regards to spiritual development. So, this week we are going to begin a series about guiding the spiritual growth of our children.
Now, parenting is one of the most important roles and tasks that we have, just as people. So, we need to think carefully about what it means to disciple our own children.
But, before we get too deep into it, let me tell you a bit about myself, so that you know where I’m coming from.
My wife and I have been married for a little over 20 years, and we have six children: three older children and three younger children that we adopted, for a total of four girls and two boys who all are walking with Christ (thank God). I love my kids and I can brag about them all day long.
But you need to know, I have made many MANY mistakes in my days as their dad. That being said, anything I have to say about parenting doesn’t come as an ironclad rule, but simply things that – in God’s grace – he has taught me and my wife over the years.
Now, you can be confident that, as a parent, you can do your job as well as possible, pouring yourself into them as you disciple them throughout their childhood. Then, as they grow into young men and women, and develop their own responsibility for their own lives. All you can do is rest in the knowledge that you wisely used the time God gave you with them to disciple them.
I say all this as a premise to the fact that THERE HAS NEVER BEEN A PERFECT PARENT EXCEPT GOD.
Not a single one throughout all of the history of mankind. But that should never prevent us from trying our best to present our children with a game plan while they are in our homes.
And on that note, Jesus was the only perfect child – ever.
And, it’s comforting to know that God the Father knows what it is like to be a parent; and God the Son, Jesus, knows what it’s like to be a child. Therefore, we have a God who understands our perspective, as do our children. Think about it – Jesus grew up just like other boys did around Him, playing games, running around, eventually learning a trade… just like all the other young Jewish men of His day.
Unlike God the Father and Jesus, though, each of us are flawed human beings. Therefore, we’re all going to make mistakes. All this to say, humility and the willingness to say, “I’m sorry,” is critical to leading our children in Christ. We can’t be so proud to think that if we think showing weakness in front of our children, that they will take advantage of that. I believe this is nothing but a complete myth. Your kids are going to find out that you’re human eventually. So, it’s good to go ahead and let them know that you have flaws right from the beginning.
If you make a mistake; if you discipline them for something they didn’t actually do; if you are overly harsh with them; or even just frustrated and in a foul mood toward them – calm down, then humbly come back to them later on and say, “I’m sorry. I’m having bad day. Could you pray with me?”
I’m not saying you need to do this every single day, but since we all – parents and kids alike – are constantly growing and developing as disciples of Jesus, then to a certain point, we need to grow together.
After all, we expect our children to apologize when they make mistakes or when they sin, so we should model that same example in our own lives for them to see.
Remember there is no three-step process to great parenting. It’s a journey, not a destination. Staying with this analogy, it’s almost universal that in their development, children will take two steps forward, then a couple steps back – or even sideways. I’ve never met a child who progresses one step at a time, continually in the right direction, into becoming an adult.
We all have sinful natures within us, which cause us to fall short of God’s will. BUT, we also are all created in God’s image, so we have tremendous forces inside of each one of us battling. It’s more than merely a battle of good versus evil, but also a battle for maturity, understanding and intelligence.
There will be detours, roadblocks and bumps in the road. Nevertheless, it’s the journey – not the destination – that we’re involved in.
Lastly, you are not responsible for the decisions your children make when they are adults. One of your primary jobs as a parent is to create an environment for them to thrive within. But, we’re not responsible for their adult response.
Over the next several weeks, we will discuss several different strategies and lessons I’ve learned that can help you create an environment your kids can grow in; and ways to engage your children and disciple them over the years.