Friday, February 12, 2010

A Gospel Tonic for Discouraged Parents

We've all been there - nearly ready to throw in the parenting towel due to a vicious combination of our childrens' collective sins and our sinful response to them. We brought our children into the world as we bathed them in prayer and armed ourselves with the biblical tools and confidence to be super-parents. But in the years since, chronic sin in the house has dashed our dreams and left us with a deep sense of failure and guilt. Can anyone relate?

It's a good thing that parenting, according to the Bible, has never been about 'success.' In his book Think Orange, Reggie Joiner encouarges us away from the Christian 'parenting success syndrome' by reminding us of some important facts, including that ever since the Fall, the human race has been one, big dysfunctional family. Joiner writes,

Where do we find truly 'successful' families in the Bible?

  • Noah had a drinking problem.

  • Abraham offered his wife to another man.

  • Rebekah schemed with her son to deceive her husband.

  • Jacob's sons sold their brother into slavery.

  • David had an affair and his son started a rebellion.

  • Eli lost total control of how his boys acted in church.

Joiner challenges us as Christian parents to stop obsessing about the successful obedience of our children (and our parenting skills). Instead, he writes,

What would happen if parents began to see the family in the same way believers should view the church, as a human part of God's design to demonstrate who He is to the world? Don't miss the significance of that vantage point. Our humanness does not prevent God from using us; it is our humanness [read: sinfulness] that actually becomes the platform from which He demonstrates His power, goodness and love to His people. It is an amazing thought when you realize that both the church and the home are comprised of broken, imperfect people through whom God has chosen to tell His story.

What if it's not God's plan for parents or leaders to restore the church and the home to a sublime, utopian state? What if, instead, it's God's plan to do an amazing work within the church and the home in order to put His grace on display? (p. 47)

He then goes on to strategically apply this gospel-centered perspective on parenting to our ministry in the church:

If you're a church leader, your purpose is not to equip parents to have exceptional parenting skills. If you set unrealistic expectations, you may create an atmosphere in which parents become discouraged and children get disillusioned....It is critical to guard our mindset and stay focused on the primary role of the family...God is at work telling a story of restoration and redemption through our families (p. 48).

Raising kids isn't about them or about us, it's about displaying the glory of the gospel.

1 comment:

stephanie j. said...

I needed to read this today, Pastor A. Thanks :) - SJ