What is intentionality? What comes first, being intentional, or the desire to be intentional? It’s definitely a cultural buzzword, but why is it so important? Join AMBrewster as he helps Christian parents understand intentionality and put it into practice in their daily parenting.
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“The Communication House” (episode 38)
"Parenting 100 Miles An Hour!” (episode 85)
“Speed Parenting” (episode 115)
“Teach Your Kids to . . . .” series
“Emotions and Parenting” (episode 32)
“Why Do Your Children Feel What They Feel?” (episode 97)
“Peaceful Parenting” series (episode 69)
“No Greater Joy” (episode 120)
“Your Parenting is Not in Vain” (episode 224)
“The 5th Way to Parent” (episode 26)
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What is intentionality? What comes first, being intentional, or the desire to be intentional?
It’s definitely a cultural buzzword, but why is it so important?
We’re going to answer those questions and the more practical ones like, “What’s the first step to being more intentional in my parenting?”
But before we do that, I’d like to — once again — invite you to rate, review, or recommend this show.
Listen, I know how it works, you like something, but it’s just not that valuable for you to take the time to leave a rating or review. But, remember this, when you rate and review, it enables us to connect with new families much easier.
Your reviews on iTunes and your recommendations on Facebook say truckloads more than anything we could say about the show.
So, please, in this new year, take a couple minutes to rate us on iTunes, review us on whatever podcast directory you use, and recommend us on Facebook.
We would greatly appreciate it!
Also, I want to thank Mark and Carol for today’s episode. Their generous gifts allow TLP to offer free, biblically-based parenting resources.
And they would invite you to prayerfully consider donating as well. Whether it’s a one time gift, and occasional gift, or a monthly gift, God can use your stewardship to multiply our reach and achieve our goals of helping moms and dads all over the world become the intentional, premeditated, disciple-making, Ambassador Parents God called and created them to be.
And, there’s that word again: intentional.
Let’s talk about what it means.
Okay, so this series is all about first steps to being a newer and better parent this year.
And we’re following a very simply format. First, we talk about the importance of knowing the Truth about parenting. Second, we must choose to believe what God says is important. Third, we need to commit to getting help, and fourth we need to start making those small changes that will tweak our trajectory and get us moving in the right direction.
Now, we’re not taking a lot of time with the first point because these episodes aren’t so much about teaching on the subject, but equipping you to become the subject.
But, when I went through our past episodes, which — by the way — are all available to you — I found that I haven’t really be very intentional when it came to teaching about intentionality.
I know I mention it most episodes, and I know that I’ve briefly discussed it within the context of another topic, but I didn’t really dedicated a bunch of episodes to the topic. Why not?
Let’s jump into the first point to answer the question.
1. Learn the Truth.
Everything we do, every episode we publish is designed to help you be more intentional. Let me show you what I mean.
“Intentional” means that something is “done by intention or design.” And “intention” refers to a “determination to act in a certain way.”
Some good synonyms should be purposeful, deliberate, and resolved.
The whole idea is that you’re doing what you’re doing on purpose.
Now, it can be argued that everything we do, we do on purpose. It’s not like I accidentally parented my children that way.
But, I want us to understand the word intentional as referring to a purposeful choice to parent the way God commands.
When I call us to be intentional parents, I’m calling us to deliberately exercise our intellects to know the truth and our faith to live the truth.
It’s a thought-out, intelligent, logical, acknowledgement that we are purposefully going to be who God wants us to be.
And why is this so important?
It’s important because we default to self-centeredness. We improvise in the flesh. We’re all Dictator, Joker, Doormat, or Judge Parents by nature. We won’t accidentally glorify God by parenting in His will.
II Corinthians 5:15 tells us that Christ died so that we “might no longer live for [ourselves], but for Him who for [our] sake died and was raised.”
The whole reason that Jesus came was so that we could — for the first time in our lives — live for something other than ourselves.
We are intentionally self-serving in everything we do unless we intentionally choose to submit to God.
This is why I can say that every episode we publish is an exercise in intentionality. As we deliberately exercise our intellects to learn the Truth, we must actively exercise our faith to live the Truth.
And that’s our twice-weekly challenge to you.
However, before we move to the second point, I will point you to four other episodes that focus on intentionality a little more than the others.
The first is episode 85, "Parenting 100 Miles An Hour!”
The second is the “Speed Parenting” series which starts in episode 115.
There’s also “The Communication House” in episode 38.
And we also have a whole group of episodes called the “Teach Your Kids to . . . .” series. I’ll include a link in the description of today’s show to those episodes as well as the others I cite.
Any of those would be a fantastic follow-up to today’s lesson.
Two more things before we move on:
Alright . . .
2. Decide to Believe the Truth.
The chicken came before the egg, that’s not a hard question. But which comes first, the choice to be intentional or being intentional?
Well, it’s simultaneous.
It’s kind of like believing something. Unless you’re acting on what you know, you don’t really believe it to be true. The moment I choose to truly believe something, I’m going to act on it. This is why Jesus responded the way He did when His disciples asked Him to increase their faith. He simply shared a parable which said, “If you want to have more faith, just do what you’re supposed to do.”
In the same way, the moment I make the decision to be intentional, I’m already being intentional.
So, let me simply challenge you to start. And perhaps you already have. Perhaps listening to this episode is part of intentionally working on your parenting.
Either way, the practical steps we outline later in this episode are going to be the fruit of your intentionality. If you’re not going to do the work, it doesn’t matter how bad you say you want to be an intentional parent.
That’s why . . .
3. We Need Some Help.
Our previous episodes outlined some of the reasons we really need to build our community of accountability partners, counselors, friends, and mentors . . . which are all different ways for basically saying the same thing.
So, assuming you already have a relationship like that in your life — or that you’re working on it — here are some things to discuss with your friend.
1. Explain to them your passion to be intentional in your parenting. And use the definition I gave you so that you’re both on the same page. Let your spouse know that you want to deliberately exercise your intellect to know the truth and your faith to live the truth.
2. Ask them to participate in the two prongs of the definition. Ask them to help you learn the kind of parent God has called and commanded you to be, and then ask them to be your accountability as you take actionable steps to live out that Truth.
3. Work with your accountability partner-counselor-mentor-friend to ask you questions about your parenting.
Really encourage them to ask you “why?”
“Why did you tell your daughter that?”
“Why did you respond that way?”
“Why did you raise your voice?”
“Why did you let your son sign up for that sport?”
This line of questioning is going to require us to have a thought-out, purposefully Christ-honoring answer. And — if we don’t — then we know that decision wasn’t intentional, and then you can talk about how to work on that issue.
Also, don’t forget that you can contact us at counseor@TruthLoveParent.com in order to receive some supplementary guidance and support. It’s not as good as a friend who’s physically present with you, but it’s amazing if you have nothing else.
Lastly, you can start being that advocate-mentor-friend for someone else by starting this conversation. And one really easy way to do that is to post this episode on social media and ask “Who wants to do this with me?”
Alright, let’s jump into our fourth point — the really practical stuff — and then I have a special bonus for you at the end of the show.
I completely forgot one really important facet to our last discussion about becoming an Ambassador Parent. So, at the end of this episode, I’m going to spend a number of minutes tacking on some super-practical and very necessary steps to help us start being an Ambassador Parent.
Alright . . .
4. Make Small Changes.
What’s nice about this particular character trait is that once your decide to be it, you’re being it.
Choosing to truly believe that God requires you to intentionally parent for Him is being intentional.
So, that’s step . . .
1. Resolve to deliberately exercise your intellect to know the truth and your faith to live the truth.
And, like we said last time, this should involve a conversation with God.
I encourage you to talk to Him as you would a friend. Let Him know your burden, let Him know how you’ve realized that you do no accidentally parent in a way that pleases Him. Explain to Him that you’ve learned that you have to be more purposeful, that you have to know His Word, and that you actually have to live it out even when it’s uncomfortable or feels unnatural.
Ask Him to forgive you for the emotion-laden, self-focused, purposeless parenting to which you’ve grown accustomed.
And thank Him for the grace and strength He daily provides to accomplish the work to which He’s called you.
And dedicate to have this conversation with God on a regular basis.
2. Determine the facet of your parenting in which you’re the least intentional.
You can do this the same way I encouraged you last time. Ask your spouse, ask your friends, ask your kids.
Compile of list of your unintentional parenting.
What will that look like?
It’s the knee-jerk parenting. It’s the emotional parenting. It’s the selfish parenting. It’s the improvised parenting.
The emotional element is going to be a big give-away. If you’re responding out of anger, fear, disgust, or sadness then you’re not making intelligent, informed, purposeful choices.
We have a number of episodes about emotions. I’ll link them below, and I encourage you to listen to them if you find yourself parenting from your emotions.
3. Once you’ve identified a specific parenting-area in which you are regularly unintentional, start developing a plan to address that.
This is similar to our “Attack Your Puny Kingdom” point last time.
Of course, this is also starting to cross over into our next discussion about “How to Become a Premeditated Parent,” but — for now — the intentional part is identifying where your parenting falls short of being purposefully God-honoring, and resolving to learn what God has to say about that subject and choosing to live out that Truth in faith.
And, I hope that our podcast and online resources will be valuable to you in this process. If you realize that you have a big problem with anger and you want to intentionally work on that, you can search our site for episodes and notes and resources concerning anger.
If you realize that you are faster to share your own pithy parenting proverbs than you are to communicate God’s Word, we have a plethora of shows dedicated to the importance of God’s Word in our parenting and how you can build your parenting Bibles.
If you find that you’d parent the way God commanded you to parent, but you just have a hard time understanding the connection between a specific verse and the practical application in your parenting, then search our episodes for that passage or ask our TLP Counselors.
So, 1. Resolve to deliberately exercise your intellect to know the truth and your faith to live the truth.
2. Determine the facet of your parenting in which you’re the least intentional.
3. Develop a plan to address your unintentional parenting.
4. Bathe yourself in God’s Word.
Remember, intentionality starts with learning what you’re supposed to be.
You need to regularly be in God’s Word. You need to regularly be in church. You need to regularly be hanging out with your admonishment friends. You need to regularly be reading and listening to God-honoring content.
Surround yourself, envelope yourself, drown yourself in pure, unadulterated, God-ordained, biblically faithful preaching, teaching, coaching, writing, singing, and posting.
This is another good reason you should follow TLP on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest. We’ll post a bunch of things designed to drag your thoughts back to godly parenting.
Our life was created to love God and glorify Him for all eternity. Our parenting has been ordained to do that same. We must seriously upgrade our time with and in the Bible and prayer. There’s no way around it.
You cannot deliberately exercise your intellect to know the truth and your faith to live the truth if you’re not in the Truth.
You can’t believe what you don’t know. You can’t be what you haven’t learned.
Now, I hate that these episodes aren’t inherently Scripture-filled. Again, this series is about the daily steps you need to take to live out the Truth we’ve already learned or that we’re going to learn.
So let me ground our 5th point in Luke 14:28-33.
5. Count the cost.
In chapter 14, Luke relates some of Jesus more powerful teaching. It says, “For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’ Or what king, going out to encounter another king in war, will not sit down first and deliberate whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? And if not, while the other is yet a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks for terms of peace. So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple.”
If you truly want to become an intentional parent, you need to be aware of what it’s going to cost you.
It’s going to cost your own will and way.
It’s going to cost your fleshly desires.
It’s going to cost you the resources necessary to really know and believe God’s Word.
It’s going to cost your unexamined life.
It’s going to cost you the comfort of arm’s-length and freckle-level friendships.
It’s going to cost your time.
It’s going to cost all that you have in order to be God’s disciple.
But, it will be infinitely worth it.
We’re trying to build parenting that glorifies the Creator and aligns with His reality.
I’m not promising you perfect children, I’m promising you parenting that pleases the Lord.
I’m promising you peace and joy.
We have three series about just this. In episode 69 we start the “Peaceful Parenting” series that explores the beauty of parenting like Christ.
And in episode 120 and 121 we talk about how you can have joy in your parenting regardless of how your children respond.
And earlier this year we talked about how your parenting does’t have to be in vain.
And those links will also be in the description of this episode.
And, finally . . .
6. Make your commitment visible.
Just like last time, consider a way to keep this commitment continually before your eyes.
Perhaps the word “Intentional” can be placed on your refrigerator.
Maybe you could post Luke 14:28, “For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it?”
When you’ve itemized your personal struggles, find a way to encapsulate the difficulty and the answer into a statement or word that will drive your mind back to the Truth you’re supposed to be putting into practice in your life.
So, in conclusion, the first steps to being an intentional parent are relatively simple. They require that we know God, know ourselves, and choose to align the second with the first,
And TeamTLP and I are here to help you do just that.
Now, if you have to stop and come back to this later, feel free, but I want to take a few minutes to add on to our discussion about the first steps to becoming an Ambassador Parent.
Last time we said that the first steps are to . . .
The piece I’d like to add branches off “Attack Your Puny Kingdom.”
I can’t believe I forgot to apply our discussion of Ambassadorial Parenting specifically to the Dictator, Joker, Doormat, and Judge.
So, here’s how each of these fleshly parenting styles can take their first steps to becoming Ambassadors.
By the way, if you don’t know what the Dictator, Joker, Doormat, and Judge Parents are, you really need to listen to episode 26, “The 5th Way to Parent.”
1. Okay, for all you Dictator Parents out there like me — You naturally have high expectations for yourselves and others, but these expectations are not rooted in God and His Word, they grow from your own desires.
The first steps you need to take is to humbly remove yourself from the equation.
Ambassadors have High Biblical Expectations for self and others. This is going to require to us to acknowledge that our parenting has absolutely nothing to do with us and everything to do with God.
Of course, our biggest temptation is going to be to conflate God’s desires with our own. We’ll have tendency to “baptize” our expectations in biblical jargon, or we’ll claim that our sinful annoyance and anger is due to God’s will not being lived out in your home.
But when we remove ourselves from the equation, it allows our parenting to focus completely on God and His expectations.
2. Joker Parents, this part is for you.
Your tendency is to have low expectations for yourself and for your kids. What’s your first step? Well, it’s identical to the Dictator Parent — get yourself out of the way.
This is about God, it doesn’t really matter what we want. I know you feel more comfortable living letting live. I know you like to let go and let God. I know it’s easy to turn a blind eye and make a casual observation that your child is in a “phase” and will grow out of it, but that’s not the way God has called you to parent.
You have been commissioned by God to challenge, rebuke, correct, counsel, admonish, reprove, train, teach, edify, and encourage your children in His Truth. This is not a laid-back, spectator sport.
Your biggest temptation is to not want to get up and address the issues until they finally come to a place where they annoy you.
Resolve instead to revolve your priorities to match God’s. If His Word says it, you’re going to do it.
3. Doormat Parents, it’s your turn.
Your fleshly parenting style is to have high expectations for self, but low expectations for others.
You’re the one to work yourself to the bone and either ignore and justify the fact that your family is not doing as they should.
Perhaps you tell yourself that they’re not mature enough or that it will just be easier for everyone if you do it yourself.
But, your struggle is going to be a mix of the Dictator and the Joker. On one side, your workaholic tendencies are rooted in your own philosophies of life and not God’s. Either that, or your desires seem to be biblically based, but your motivation is selfish.
And your temptation regarding your family is to not expect enough from them.
Your first step is going to be identical to the first. Get out of the way! Why you do and how you do it needs to born from true obedience. You need to do the right things in the right ways for the right reasons in the right power. If you’re not, then you’re not truly obeying.
And you also need to acknowledge that you family also needs to do the right things in the right ways for the right reasons in the right power. And, if they’re not, you need to help them submit to Truth and obey the way God requires.
4. And lastly, but not leastly, Judge Parents.
This category is typically there largest.
In fact, the easiest fleshly parenting style into which the other three styles tend to slide is the Judge. We all struggle with this.
This is the one style that Jesus targets the most because it really is humanity's natural tendency. We expect little of ourselves while expecting much from others.
Get out of the way of your parenting. It’s not about you. It doesn’t matter what’s comfortable, what feels right, or what is culturally expected. We must submit to God’s High Biblical Expectations just as much as our kids must.
You have to get on yourself concerning God’s desires as much as your tempted to get on your kids concerning your desires.
And when it comes time to address your children’s shortcomings, you need to tie it back to God and His Word and not your own inconvenience or philosophies.
All four of the fleshly parenting styles need to sacrifice their way on the altar of God’s way, but the practical outworking of that is going to look a little different in each.
But, again, this is why Truth.Love.Parent. exists. Our highest goal is to glorify God by helping you become the intentional, Ambassador Parent God called and created you to be.
And He also wants you to be premeditated.
So, to that end, I’ll see you next time.
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