Godly parenting is not for the faint of heart. Especially these days when it seems like our newsfeeds are full of people announcing they’ve lost their faith after “deconstructing”.
And it’s easy to look at something good, like a particular style of raising kids, and subtly put all of our security in it.
The result is that we’re often busy placing our hope for our children in our homeschooling, our church, our parenting choices… everything but God.
These may be very good investments towards our kids’ eternal futures, but none of them are a guarantee of salvation.
We spend so much time and energy putting up these fences around our children, trying to insulate them from the harsh realities and influences of the world.
We raise our kids in a subculture permeated by Christian music, movies, youth groups, inside jokes, lingo, etc. and believe everything is fine.
But, if our faith is misplaced, eventually we begin to rely on these external things. We start reasoning that if our children look and act a certain way, and we just do all the right things as parents, this will ensure a strong, personal relationship with Jesus.
We end up believing the lie that our kids’ salvation depends all on us.
Stewards, Not Owners
It’s hard to wrap our heads around. It seems like an insanely confusing and troubling paradox.
We hear all the time that we need to do everything we can to lead them to Christ, yet it doesn’t depend all on us?
To a certain extent, it is our responsibility in so far as we have the important job of discipling our children.
Yes, we have to take our kids to church. Yes, we have to read the Bible to them.
Yes, we have to make sure they’re learning how to pray and that they understand doctrine. Yes, we need to show them how to love and serve like Jesus.
Yes, we need to do all that we can to bring them up in the fear of the Lord and point them to Christ.
However, even with all of our teaching and modeling, we still cannot override our children’s free will. Our kids are depraved from birth and prone to sin.
I’ll let you in on a little secret: they are going to make mistakes. Sometimes big ones.
But your child’s identity is not wrapped up in yours. If our kids end serving the Lord on the mission field and happen to stumble upon the cure for cancer while leading an entire village to Christ, we cannot take credit.
Likewise, if our children fail catastrophically, that won’t be our doing either.
Your parenting imperfections aren’t so bad that God can’t rescue your children, and your parenting successes aren’t so great that they can save your children.
Faithfulness Over Perfection
It is not my job to be perfect as a parent- only loving, faithful, God-centered, and wise. Like every parent, I will hurt my children.
I won’t mean to, but I will. And in God’s plan, there is grace for that.
The Lord is a God of compassion. Even in the midst of our greatest failures, God is moved with compassion towards us.
Not because of the good we do, but because He has set His love on us.
We don’t do any of these things for our children- taking them to church, praying with them, teaching them from God’s Word- so that they’ll be perfect, either.
We don’t raise our kids in church because it magically makes them unable to sin, or holier-than-thou.
We raise our kids in church so that WHEN they mess up and WHEN they fall short, they know just who to run to.
So they know that their Lord and Savior will never leave them or forsake them, no matter how big or small their mess up might be.
So they know their Heavenly Father will always leave the 99 if they are that one that needs saving.
So they will know what grace is like and give it out freely.
So they know that there is absolutely nothing in this world they could do that our Savior’s blood hasn’t already covered.
It’s for when this cruel world we live in comes knocking on their door, that they personally know the Solid Rock on which they stand. It’s so they know there is nothing too dirty that He can’t make worthy.
The Final Word
No matter where circumstances find us, we need to press in close to the Father. He loves our children more than we do, and they are ultimately His.
In the middle of the moments when we feel the weight of parental failure, when the enemy comes to accuse us (because he will), we have to know where to run and how to cope.
It is in this brokenness, disappointment, and sadness that we run to the cross.
Our shortcomings are not the last word in our children’s stories. Christ and the power of the cross are, and He is the redeemer of all things.
Breathe a sigh of relief, mom. You’re not going to ruin God’s plans.
Nothing that you say (or don’t say), do (or don’t do), or “mess up” in any way– none of it will thwart God’s plans.
And even if you do somehow push your kids away from Jesus, well, our God is still the God of impossible.
Wherefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them (Hebrews 7:25).
You continue in obedience to your Father, and pray that someday they will also.
Daily discipleship and wisdom imparted to them throughout their time in your home will be the good seed that is planted deep in their soul which will never leave them.
When they’re grown and gone, it’s on your child to maintain that relationship– that foundation– which you helped build in their lives.
The Spirit will do a work in their hearts in order to regenerate them. We just have to prepare the soil and do the planting.
Your children must be born again. Christ said it.
It is not a change of sentiment, nor an outward change of behavior; it is a new heart implanted by the Holy Spirit.
And where your words fail, God’s Word will not. Do your part, and leave the rest in His capable hands.
God doesn’t intend for us to meet all our children’s needs. Or answer every question. Or heal their deepest wounds.
Or satisfy their greatest longings. Or save their souls.
He wants us to tell our children about the only one who can- Jesus.