What Is Our Role as Parents?
When Charles and I found out we were pregnant with Lawson, our two year old, I was terrified. The overwhelming and everlasting burden of parenting weighed on me. I became acutely aware of all my flaws and limitations as a person. I could not imagine how I was going to lead this adorable little sinner to Christ among all the other responsibilities of motherhood.
As the years passed, life carried on despite my fears and hesitations. Now, caring for a small person seems natural and much less daunting. I don’t lose sleep over how to shepherd my son, but while the fear that gripped me a few years ago was not well founded, neither is my complacency now.
Parenthood, like every other vocation or stage of life, is a God-given opportunity to see his majesty and one would be foolish to waste it. So I want to take a minute to talk about this opportunity, what God asks of us, and what it looks like to seize it.
What does God ask of us in this stage of life? It is actually quite simple; it is the same as every other area of life. In parenting, as in our marriages, friendships, and workplaces, our calling is to (by the power of the Holy Spirit) be like Christ to our children. This has additional importance because in the early years, children often equate their parents with Christ. In their mind, how you respond to them must be how God responds as well. The way we parent our children will shape the way they view authority in their lives, with God being the ultimate figure of authority.
And we must also realize that we cannot be perfect examples of Christ, so we must point past us and to Christ. What a tragedy it would be to raise a completely moral, responsible, upstanding individual if they never saw their need for Christ and turned to him! While we want to model and teach Christ-like behavior, may we never stop there! Instead, let us show our children where our hope is- in Christ, and let us teach them that in Christ that they have freedom to live free from sin and enjoy life to the fullest.
If our calling is to always be like Christ and reveal Christ to our highly impressionable, intensely needy, sometimes trying children, how can we possibly fulfill it? The answer is both challenging and freeing. The first way you faithfully carry out your calling as a parent is through knowing Christ. No one would think they could play as Beethoven intended when he wrote his 9th symphony without any study or practice, neither can you behave as Christ intends without growth in Christ. Know Christ. Know his Word. It is only through daily immersion in his Word that you can begin to know his thoughts, hear his voice, see him working, and respond.
Next, pray! Through prayer, we realign our minds and attitudes to the way they should be; we acknowledge that we are powerless to control our world and that God is powerful. Bring your concerns, inadequacies, and joys to Christ. Remind yourself of his care, sovereignty, and wisdom. Confess you selfish nature and prideful heart. And thank him for his faithfulness, forgiveness, and the victories he has brought about in your life. Do this daily in prayer!
Finally, live a life of repentance (turning from your sin to Christ’s righteousness). Do not fool yourself; God did not choose you as a parent because you were more skilled than your neighbor. And you are not yelling at your kids just because they are sinful; ultimately, it is because you are sinful, imperfect, and completely in need of God’s transforming grace too. So be honest about that! With your spouse, with your children, and most importantly, with yourself!
It is easy for the God-given opportunities of parenting to slip by before we notice. It is more often in the small conversations – opportunities for grace, training, confession, forgiveness, and unconditional love – that true parenting happens. Your good work from infancy through high school means much more in the long run than the speech you will give your child before they move out for college. May you (and I) treasure each moment! May we lean entirely on God’s grace and power, and may we be carried from joy to joy as we see God working through our imperfect but humble and sincere attempts at obedience!
“Your hope as a parent is not found in your power, your wisdom, your character, your experience, or your success, but in this one thing alone: the presence of your Lord. The Creator, Savior, Almighty, Sovereign King is with you. Let your heart rest. You are not in this parenting drama alone. Your potential is greater than the size of your weaknesses, because the One who is without weakness is with you, and he does his best work through those who admit that they are weak but in weakness still heed his call.”
― Paul David Tripp
by Susanna Hall
Tri-Village Deacon of Children’s Ministry