Being a parent to three boys and three girls leaves me wondering how Mike Brady was able to navigate the trials and tribulations of fatherhood on the popular series, The Brady Bunch back in the early 70’s. Of course he didn’t have Instagram, Netflix and Snapchat to compete with. He also had quite a bit of help from Alice if I remember correctly. On a more serious note, as Christians, survival should not be our only goal. We should be striving to raise children who want to glorify the One and Only True God when they move out of our home and begin a life of their own.
As with all worthwhile pursuits, we should start with the Bible and see what it has to tell us on raising children. The first verse that I would direct your attention to would be Proverbs 22:6:
“Direct your children onto the right path, and when they are older, they will not leave it.” NLT
Now this verse is not a guarantee that if we do all the right things our kids will turn out right. We know both from Scripture and from our personal experience it is impossible for us to do all the right things anyway. Furthermore, I am sure we all know examples of parents that seemed to do all the right things and their kids strayed away from God. So, should we despair at this point? Absolutely not. As with all of the Proverbs, the verse is meant to be interpreted as a general expression of truth that has exceptions. So, by working to direct our children we can make it more probable that they will follow God when they are no longer living under our roof.
As a father, I have had moments of pure joy like the times I have held them for the first time after being born. Equally as poignant, I have had times of crippling fear like the times where they may have been missing and my mind went to the horrible things that could have happened to them. There are also the times in between, like fighting over curfew, celebrating birthdays, watching their sporting events, and the list could go on forever. Yet, even more significantly, it is hard to think of a role that we as Christians will take on that is more impactful to God’s Kingdom than Parenting.
I would like to say I have navigated this journey with little error. However, as my kids would be quick to point out, I have my challenges just like any other parent. One of the most difficult for me personally, is that of anger. I grew up in a home filled with anger, and unfortunately, I allowed this same trait to rule my life as an adult. Since I am sure I am not the only one to struggle in this area, I would point you to the following verse in Ephesians 6:4:
“Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger by the way you treat them. Rather, bring them up with the discipline and instruction that comes from the Lord.” NLT
There is no greater destroyer of relationships than Anger. Take it from me, words and actions done in anger can harm. It is no mistake that the verse directs us to the “discipline and instruction that comes from the Lord.” If I use my own discipline and instruction, I would fail. We need to look to God’s Word to guide us in all of the situations that we will find us as parents. Maybe, anger is not our challenge. The solution is still the same. Only the Bible is comprehensive enough to cover all of life’s struggles.
Now, maybe you are like me and you feel defeated when you think about all of the areas of responsibility that you must bear as a parent. Maybe, you feel inadequate to meet the challenges you will face in raising your child. Well, the Bible speaks to that too. Look what we discover in 1 Corinthians 13:7:
“Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures every circumstance.” NLT
There was a moment in my early years as a parent where I really fell short and the memory still haunts me. My oldest child was celebrating a birthday and during the party I made the mistake of attending a meeting that I felt was more important. I later was told that when I was gone and my son was opening presents, he received a baseball mitt. He was so excited that he ran around the room looking to show his dad his new mitt. Unfortunately, I was not there. I had to relive that moment over and over as it was videotaped. The pain I felt in disappointing my son in not being there to share in his excitement is still felt today. Yet, Our God is gracious. My oldest is still the child I share sports with the most. The day when he was looking for me to show me his baseball mitt and could not find me did not leave any lasting scars. In fact, he probably doesn’t even remember it.
I thank God for each and every one of my children. Praying for them, spending time with them, going to church with them are all important things we can do to help raise them to serve God. There will be times we fail. But, like the verse says, “Love doesn’t give up”. We all love our children, so when we do fail, we must dust ourselves off, ask for forgiveness if needed and then get back at the task of Parenting. There is no more nobler a task in God’s Kingdom. In today’s world, make no mistake about it, you are needed more than ever. May God direct your paths and bless you abundantly in this endeavor.