So Lauryn and I recently started a podcast called Gospel Family with the Gilberts (click HERE to access), but one of our primary goals is not merely to share our wisdom (we’re young and don’t have too much to give yet), but also to share the wisdom of those in our church.
I’m amazed at how much wisdom there is in our people, and this includes the young and the less young :). So, I emailed 4 to 5 people and asked them one question:
“What does the gospel have to do with parenting?”
This is how they responded. I put in bold the parts that really stuck out to me. Hopefully this will be as helpful for you as it was for me!
One of the greatest privileges is to know someone from their first day on earth. We reveal Christ to our kids though our relationship with Him. Do we inspire our kids with the confidence that God is here to set them free, to be with them unconditionally as they struggle in the world, to be their strength when they are afraid, to know them deeply, yet love them unconditionally and appreciate who they are as His creation? We help them to know Christ and His saving power, more through example than word, like it or not. That being said, only God can accomplish that in their hearts.
One of the hardest things to do is to realize, as a parent, that you are not your child. Let go of your pride. Everything does not reflect upon us. Parents often try to control behavior, instead of entering into the growing process in relationship with their child. You gain your child’s heart as you let them know that even in the most difficult challenges they face, you see who they are, and love them. I’ve always felt my job is to keep my kids safe, and minimize the scars the world might try to inflict on them as they grow up, while nurturing their gifts and encouraging them to be true to that small inner voice, in hopes that the Holy Spirit would be that voice at the point of salvation. Only God can accomplish that in their hearts.
Kids aren’t empty vessels.They are individuals with something to offer the world, whether we do a good job of pouring it into them or not. Recognize they desire to be successful in life, and if their behavior doesn’t show it, it’s our job to encourage that vision. Example: with a small child hitting, instead of focusing on the hitting, put a stop to it and remind them that “we don’t do that”. Encourage the vision , by saying, “you are gentle”. With older kids, we can pray and give them enough room to fail. That’s how they learn the love and mercy of their parents, and Gods’ forgiveness and unconditional love. Letting them handle the consequences of their actions is the best teacher. Also, never make a rule you can’t enforce. As long as their behavior is loving and respectful, let them wear whatever (modestly) and do whatever they want with their hair. Every generation has it’s own style and this is a great opportunity to let them know you value the important things and aren’t superficial. You win their trust by valuing them above what your friends or other people think.
We were parents BC (before Christ), and after Christ came into our lives, it made a HUGE difference. Not only did WE change and start growing in Christ-likeness, it gave us something precious to share and lead our children towards. As parents, we are told in Ephesians 6:4 to raise our children in the training and instruction of the Lord…NOT save them, though this is our constant prayer for our children. Only the Lord saves…parents with wayward children need to realize that they are not the Holy Spirit and should not feel guilt for their unsaved children, AND those parents with godly children likewise should not take credit for the salvation of their children. What we can take satisfaction in is: knowing God, loving God, and obeying God.
Also, the gospel made a HUGE difference in the lives of our children. Once our children were saved by the grace of God through the gospel message…their hearts of stones were noticeably changed into hearts given to the Lord and the ability to live lives pleasing to Him. They were now believers and the training and instruction of the Lord that we continued pouring into their lives could now make sense to them and they could develop their own personal relationship with Jesus Christ and grow to be more like Him.
The gospel didn’t make us into instant ‘super parents’ nor did it make our children into instant ‘super kids’(though that would be wonderful…ha…they probably think the same thing about us). The gospel message gives us purpose, meaning, and the means to live joyful and pleasing lives before the one who created us for His glory.
- I realize more and more that pointing my girls back to Scripture and not something I personally want to accomplish reaches their hearts and changes them more than just me talking to them. I have to pray and ask God to change their hearts.Their hearts is the ultimate goal in gospel parenting and not perfect children that make my life convenient(I have to remember this often).
- When an issue comes up (complaining, comparing, disobedience, etc), I tell them a story from the Bible that best fits the scenario we are dealing with. A recent one is comparing how we treat them differently. We then talked about the Prodigal son and how happy the Father was for his son to come home regardless of how different his sons were. We tell them always (several times a day) that they were uniquely created by God. There will never be another Aletheia or another Zoe and God has unique plans for each of them. So we don’t compare because they are each uniquely made in the image of God.
- As much as possible we bring Scripture through every day discussion. We emphasize Christian music and movies that point them to Scripture- however, in cases that we don’t, these are opportunities to discuss something that we saw and talk about what God says about these things (how husbands and wives should interact together, why someone who is mean could have something else going on, etc.).
- I include them in many prayer requests when I find out about a prayer request and we pray about it together.
- Part of Aletheia’s practice with reading in homeschooling is reading through a giant sized letter Bible.
- Gospel Parenting makes me realize on a whole new level areas I need to work on and be open to apologize and acknowledge to my kids or in front of them the areas that I need to trust the Lord in.
- When Aletheia is especially having a hard time, the bigger focus is on praying together asking the Lord to work in her heart to let go and not be angry, knowing that she can’t do this on her own. This has helped our relationship more than just disciplining her because of her disobedience or attitude, etc. In all, pointing to Christ and acknowledging that we fail and will continue to fail and only God will never fail.
- Including them with ministry/ service opportunities
From Drew (Edith’s husband):
- It focuses our goal. We’re not looking to raise kids who are just well-adjusted, but really passionate about Christ and the gospel. We weave the gospel into lots of everyday conversations. – When we discipline, we try and talk about the gospel as an example. I try to share it often and be as clear as I possibly can with the kids what the gospel is. I find that both girls began to understand about 3 and a half (Zoe is starting to understand now.) We also try to talk a lot about missionaries sharing the gospel, the need to share it with neighbors and co-workers. Missionaries in different parts of the world who have really awesome stories to share.
- Gospel-centered parenting takes a lot of pressure off. We will fail miserably. We try to acknowledge our own failure and need for the gospel.
- We try to focus on Scripture a lot, reading together, talking about it etc. This allows us to acknowledge our own failure and sets the standard above us.
- To be honest, for me I really would have despaired if not for the gospel. Our first year with Zoe was really hard (she was in pain all the time, crying and yelling all the time.) The gospel gives hope when parenting is really hard.
From Daren and Lisa:
When the teachers of the Law tried to trick Jesus, they asked him what the greatest commandment was in the whole, whole Bible. Jesus answered pointing them to the Shema, which every Jewish child would know by heart.
Shema – “To hear”
Hear O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your might. Duet.6:4-5
What is your heart? Your heart is your “thinker” and “wanter” or your mind and your will or desire.
Who can love God with their every thought or motive? When we fall short of loving God with everything we have, heart, soul and might, we are sinners. God is so perfect He cannot tolerate any sin. However, God has paid the high price for our sin through his Son Jesus and made a way for us to be in a right relationship with Him. This is enormously humbling that we are cheap vessels of clay that God has chosen to redeem for His Good purpose. This humility is where parenting starts. Not having all of the answers, but seeking to love God with everything we have.
Duet chapter 6 continues on in verses 6 thru 9 telling how to parent…You shall teach these words to your children. Talk of them when you rise up, drive down the road in your car, put these words on your baseball cap, welcome mat, refrigerator and bathroom mirror.
In such a short response, all we can say is to love the Lord your God with all your heart and teach it to your children.