Preparing for Parenting
Sometimes, the most glorious moments can also be the most terrifying. Preparing to be a parent rightly evokes such mixed emotions. As adults who have had ample time to come to grips with our own weakness and fallibility, is there anyone among us who feels completely confident about shaping the heart of a child, training him in the ways of the Lord, demonstrating for her what it means to live a life full of faith in God? If any such person is among us, then that person is an excellent example of what it means to be deluded because truly no one is sufficient for these things.
But then again, which one of us is sufficient for anything God calls us to do? Which one of us perfectly serves or flawlessly comforts? Which one of us deserves to preach and teach the gospel, communicating God’s words with a proficiency that matches the wisdom and power of the words themselves? Which of us deserves to lead a family or manage a household? Who among us has earned the right to shepherd God’s people? Of course, the answer is “no one.”
How is it, then, that God expects us to be good parents? The answer is simple: the same way He expects us to do anything else He requires of us—by depending on Him! No, we do not have the strength nor the wisdom to be godly parents, but apart from God, we do not have the strength nor the wisdom to be godly, period. Thus, the answer to godly parenting essentially is no different than the answer to godly living. Let us consider, then, how we can prepare for godly parenting by practicing godly living.
Solomon gives us the answer at the end of Ecclesiastes when he writes, “Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man” (Ecclesiastes 12:13 ESV). Recognizing who God is and doing everything His way is what makes us whole.
Perhaps herein lies the problem: we do not think fearing God and keeping His commandments has as universal an application as it truly does. Sure, with our mouths we offer our unwavering devotion and uncompromising reverence to God. But with those same mouths, we insult, criticize, or shout angrily at our spouses when we do not get our way. Yet God says not to tear down but to build up (Ephesians 4:29). And though we know this, with our mouths we also vent and complain about…well, nearly everything: jobs, weather, annoying neighbors, and how long it takes for our computers to connect to the wifi network. And though we claim that God’s ways work, we conveniently forget that truth when we fret about our finances, our health, and our government. Yet God says not to worry but to pray. (Philippians 4:6). Can you see how this inconsistency would be a problem?
Children watch, children learn, and children imitate. They see how we mistreat other people, they learn how to complain about everything that irritates them, and they imitate our profound ability to worry as a knee-jerk reaction to anything uncertain. God’s will, however, is that we use our voices to build up the people with whom we interact, that we forego complaining to give thanks, and that we answer uncertainty with faith-infused prayer. So if you are not a parent, now is the time to practice God’s ways in these and all other areas. And if you are a parent, now is the time to practice God’s ways in these and all other areas. When it comes to godly parenting, as with godly living, “the time that is past suffices” (1 Peter 4:3 ESV) for doing things our own way instead of God’s. So how can you be a better example of the fact that God’s ways always work?
B.J. Young (7-14-19)