As promised, here is a recap of the very convicting parenting message that our pastor preached this Sunday morning. I just was able to learn so much, and apply so much to my own life, that I feel burdened to share this message with all of you as well.
Our pastor started out by sharing that there are four things that typical parents, even typical Christian parents, work to ensure that their children have. These four things are: educational/intellectual development, health/physical development, economic well-being, and emotional fitness. There's nothing wrong with wanting these things for our children...the problem comes when we STOP with these four things, and ignore the MOST important aspect of our children's development - their spiritual maturity.
When we take the long view of parenting, it allows our children to be TRULY happy. We all want happiness for our children, of course- I think it's just natural for a parent to want our children to be happy. But, in the end, we do not control what happens to our children...God does (and what a sobering truth that is). When we train our children to seek after happiness at all costs, our children are not prepared for the hard times, and may react with bitterness when their lives do not go the way they planned. Lasting joy is a consequence of living life for GOD, and not for ourselves. Are we instilling this in our children through our attitudes towards the hard things in our lives each day?
When we take the long view of parenting, we give our children a reason to really live. Luke 10:27 was the passage for this point, and this verse reads, 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind'; and, 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' - these are the two most important commandments, according to Jesus. This verse sums up the total of ALL my child needs to accomplish in this life. Everything I teach them relates to God's purpose - every choice they (and I) make is either consistent or inconsistent with God's purpose for their (or my) life. This really hit home with me, because so often I am caught up in getting things done, hurrying through my day, keeping a 'clean' house, teaching my son about this and that, and how many of those things are TRULY important to God? Our culture & society today prides busy-ness & involvement in many things - but how many of these things really help our children learn to love God and love others? Another statement that our pastor made during this section that I just could not believe was this: It has been statistically proven that the greatest obstacle to people entering full-time vocational Christian ministry is Christian parents. Can you imagine??? Having been in ministry for our 6 1/2 years of marriage, I can think of no greater joy than to hear my little Z say, "Mommy, I want to be a pastor." Okay, admittedly, a foreign missionary would be harder...to watch him fly to Bangladesh, and not be able to hold my grandchildren very often? That would be hard. But if that's what God has planned for him, that would be the ONLY way my little boy would be truly happy. I loved this statement, too - "We need to remember that when we supply our child with life's true meaning, God will supply our child the MEANS for living." And, oh, how God has proved this to be SO true in my life through the years.
Finally, and, parents, this one's for us : When we take the long view of parenting, we ensure that we have no lasting regrets. I have been a mommy for only almost 18 months now, and I can't even imagine what it would be like to have no regrets about how I have raised my little Z. Not that he's turning out bad at age one or anything, he's such a good boy, but I can be so impatient...and when I see pictures of tiny newborn him, it's hard to feel anything but regret for all I missed during those first few weeks...all I can think about is how I struggled back then emotionally, and what a self-centered person (and parent) I was, and still can be. The way I raise my children affects me, too...not just them.
I'll close with the super-convicting statement that has been on my mind ever since our pastor spoke it on Sunday, and I have prayed through it ten times at least. "So many times we focus on 'surviving parenting', AS IF IT WERE ALL ABOUT US." Too many days, too many weeks, this describes me and my parenting goals: survival.
Lord, help me to focus on raising these children that you have entrusted me with in the way that honors you. Let me hold every decision up to the purpose that you have for my life and for my children's lives each day. Help me to trust you, and to allow you to live through me. Let me be Christ to my children today.
This post is paraphrased & quoted from Pastor Charles Colton's message, Why We Need to 'Go Long', shared at Panama Baptist Church on May 24, 2009.