A.W. Tozer is famous for asserting, “What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.” The reason for this statement is simple––who we think God is ultimately shapes who we are. Our understanding of God informs our understanding of ourselves and our lives. It shapes our worship, our work, our play, and our relationships. And in light of the purpose of this blog, it shapes our parenting. We parent in light of what we believe about God.
But here’s what I’ve been learning, how we live shows us what we are actually believing. It’s one thing to profess to believe something, it’s a wholly other thing to actually live in light of what we profess to believe. And ultimately, I think, how we live (you might add how we love), demonstrates most clearly what we believe. And here’s where I’m being convicted: I’m not sure I parent in light of what I say I believe about God. And I know I often do not parent in light of how God has revealed Himself in the Bible. This realization became obvious to me again, as I recently worked through a section of a book by a pastor named Tim Chester. In his book, he includes a chart that stopped me in my tracks. While he was dealing with pastoral care, I’ve adapted the chart below to reflect parenting.
What this chart helps me remember is that I need to seek out the sin beneath the sin. My frustration and embarrassment when my kid acts like a lunatic in public is sinful, but the real sin is that such an attitude reflects the belief that I am glorious and God is not. If I really believed God is glorious, then I wouldn’t care so much about what others thought. And if I really believed God is good, then I wouldn’t have to put all my hopes and dreams in how good my kids are. I would parent and love my son for his good and God’s glory, and not for my own idolatrous concerns.
And here’s where the rubber meets the road. Too often, maybe especially for Christian parents, our kids have become our idols. They become gods in our lives. Our head, heart, and hands all revolve around them. But they’re kids. They’re young, immature, and mess up all the time. They can’t bear the weight of being our identity and our worth. And when we put them up as such, we will either destroy them or we will be destroyed by them. Actually, probably both will happen.
Thankfully, there is a God. And He is great, glorious, good, and gracious. He alone can bear the weight of being our all in all, because that’s exactly who He is. While we probably know this, do we really believe it? Does our parenting reflect it? What would it feel like for us to stop trying to be great and glorious? And instead trust the One who is great and glorious––the One who is also good and gracious.
For me, it feels like a breath of fresh air. A weight lifted. Freedom. I can’t be God for my kids, and that’s perfectly okay. I’ve never been called to that. I’m free to be faithful, to be dependent on God, to fall down and get back up. To hope in God’s greatness, glory, goodness, and grace, and not my own. I’m not perfect, my kids aren’t either, but He is. So I don’t need to control, fear, despair, or prove myself. I just need to trust God and be faithful.
So if you’re anything like me, here’s your homework for this weekend. Read Isaiah 40. Remember who your God is. And trust Him, not yourself. Parent freely in the goodness and grace of God, for He alone is great and glorious. For they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.
Jeff Strickland-I am the Discipleship Pastor at Rock Point and a current PhD student at Southern Seminary. I am the father of an energetic, slightly crazy, talkative, and hilarious little man, Carson Nolan. Thankfully, he has an incredible mom, my patient and truly kind wife, Stephanie. Expect my posts to reflect our parenting endeavor and to often be a little on the nerdy side.