Parents enjoy so many amazing experiences, but it’s possible they hold the most beautiful part of parenting in disdain. Join AMBrewster as he helps Christian parents understand the depth and beauty of the best (and hardest) parts of parenting.
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Hey, everyone. I’m honored you’ve joined us today.
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Okay, so today’s topic is “The Most Beautiful Part of Parenting.”
When I say, “the most beautiful part” no doubt you have many wonderful memories flooding your mind.
But, I believe not a single one of us thought about the truly most beautiful part of our parenting.
So, what is that most gorgeous aspect about being a dad or mom?
Most parents live for those inspirational moments when their child comes into the world, smiles the first time, learns to walk, tells us they love us, ties his shoes, watches mommy put on her makeup, draws us a picture, heads off to school for the first time, chooses to follow Christ, learns to shave, gets her driver’s license, graduates from college, finds a godly spouse, gives us grandchildren, and lovingly cares for us in our old age.
And those are wonderful things if they’re the Lord’s will for you and your kids.
But, most of that is not really why God gave you children. Much of what I just listed is simply the icing on the cake.
The real reason God gave your children to you is that there’s something desperately wrong that needs to be fixed. There’s something ugly and painful and destructive that needs your attention. There will be day-by-day, moment-by-moment crises that require your involvement.
And — if we’re being honest — most parents hate this part of their job.
My wife and I were recently on a walk, and as we passed two moms with two strollers — one trying desperately to keep her child’s blanket from repeatedly falling on the ground — the one mother said to the other, “‘Have children!’ they said.”
When our kids become rebellious, when they embarrass us in public, those are the moments we’re tempted to complain, gossip about our kids, and even slander them to our friends. And some parents become so fed up, they check-out. Some pack up and leave. And the rest of us are so easily aggravated and annoyed by these moments that we do everything we can to just survive them and move on as quickly as possible.
And I believe we feel this way because we don’t genuinely understand the most beautiful part of being a dad or mom.
But before we can unveil the glory of your parenting, we need to go back in time . . . all the way to the beginning.
In Genesis we read about God’s plan for mankind — His children. Adam and Eve were created in an innocent state with only four responsibilities:
Adam and Eve had it all, but they — like every human being to follow — wanted something more. They wanted their own autonomy. They wanted the ability to decide what was right and wrong and to make their own decisions.
So they chose, and that choice plummeted mankind into sin, and that sin fixed an unspeakable gulf between man and God. What once was a beautiful, intimate relationship became separation — both in life and in death.
That’s sad. That’s depressing. That’s hopeless. That’s the kind of parenting we all want to avoid.
But God loved His own glory and His creation too much to allow man’s choice to be the final determiner. From eternity past, God had a plan for man’s redemption.
You see, the best news in the universe was not that innocent man was born into a perfect creation and had the greatest joys mankind could possibly imagine here on earth. The best news in the universe was that despite the fact mankind was wicked and sinful and deserved eternal separation from God in hell, God — in His mercy and love — created a way for this undeserving people to enjoy an intimate relationship with Him for all eternity in perfection and joy and beauty and holiness and inexpressible excitement!
And — you know what? The relationship we can have with God now . . . after sin, is more glorious than the relationship Adam and Eve had with God. It’s the difference between how you feel about about food immediately after a massive Thanksgiving meal and how you feel about that same food after a week of fasting.
What once was taken for granted — and was even distasteful — has now become cherished.
Before we move on, if you have no idea what I’m talking about when I describe a relationship with God, I’d like to invite you to click on the link below that says, “The First Step to Being a Good Parent.” That link will share with you — in more detail — the only way a broken man or woman can ever hope to have a better relationship with God than Adam or Eve ever had in the Garden of Eden.
This discussion about the most beautiful part of our parenting has to start with the realization that God’s redemptive plan is the most amazing news and the most beautiful reality in the universe!
Ephesians 2:1-10, “And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, 2 in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. 3 Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest. 4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— 6 and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”
I John 4:9-10, “In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.”
Romans 8:38-39, “For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
I could go on and on.
Now, listen, friend. If you aren’t sure what I’m talking about, and this all sounds like a lot of religious talk, I want to encourage you to read the article I’m sharing in the description. I want to invite you to reach out to us at counselor@TruthLoveParent.com. We would love to share this unfathomable story with you in personal detail so you too can know how you can have a relationship with the God of the universe, be saved from the power and eternal consequence of your sin, and walk in the new life God has planned for you.
And if you are already a child of God, then you should know that this great Gospel not only reconciles us to God, but it also makes it possible for us to be His Ambassadors.
What you might not know is that it also points — like a giant neon arrow — to the most beautiful reality in our parenting.
Your children are born sinners. They are born separated from God because of the sin that was passed down to them from Adam through you. They are destined to a Christ-less eternity.
Yes, it’s fun to walk with your children on a beach. Yes, we want them to pass their driver’s test. Yes, we want to be able to hand them the title “young adult” when they reach 13, but these moments lack all meaning and glory when detached from the most beautiful part of parenting.
The most glorious thing you can ever do for your kids is be used as a channel through which God draws your children to Him.
A moment ago I referenced that our conversion results in us being Christ’s Ambassadors. Ambassador Parents is a term we use quite frequently around here because our Ambassadorial responsibilities to God should be most frequently realized in our homes.
II Corinthians 5:17-21 reads, “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. 18 Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, 19 namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation. 20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 21 He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”
We have the joyous privilege and responsibility to be used by God to help reconcile our children to Him.
We have a series called, “Parenting in Christ” that goes into more detail concerning what it is to be a Christian parent. Hopefully that series will deepen your appreciation for who you are in Christ. You can also check out our various episodes on Ambassadorial Parenting.
Now, in regard to our kids . . . if our most glorious and beautiful calling is to be used as a tool to help our children be reconciled to God . . . then we must acknowledge that our most beautiful parenting moments will be the ones when we are fully engaged in Gospel reconciliation and Ambassadorial Parenting.
And — let’s be fair — much of that is the hardest parenting we do.
In episode 123, “Parenting Like the Holy Spirit,” we learned that the Holy Spirit’s ministry in this earth is primarily a ministry of conviction, but there is no conviction without sin.
If your children were born perfect with no need of being saved and in full relationship with God, your role as a parent would be practically pointless. You would be relegated to a diaper-changing, food-prepping, taxi-driving facilitator.
And isn’t that what we want?
We’d be more than happy to be a glorified babysitter than have to wrangle another toddler or break up another fight or remind our child once again how to brush her teeth or deal with the fact that our kids was caught lying, stealing, looking at pornography, or having sex.
Though we’d never really say it this way, we’d rather not have to point our kids to Christ. We’d rather we didn’t have to be used by God to convict them. Teaching and interpreting and counseling and training are things we’d avoid if we have the choice. We like when our kids can do their math without our help and tie their shoes without our help and navigate friend problems without our help.
If we had a parenting genie, our first wish is that our kids would just be “good.”
We don’t want them getting into trouble. We don’t want to have to talk about sex. We don’t want to referee another argument. We don’t want to have another debate over vegetables, phone usage, money expenditures, bad grades, bad music, or bad friends.
We don’t want any more disobedience, rebelliousness, defiance, angst, arguments, or terrorism.
We want peace. We want joy. We want fun.
And — deep down inside — we believe the most beautiful parenting moments are the moments we’re not parenting.
We like the results of parenting, but we so often don’t like the process. We want the victory, but we tolerate the struggle.
Now, I’m not bad-mouthing the victory. I’ve already said that the Training Stage of parenting is the most enjoyable. But what if we looked at it in a different way?
What if we saw those hard conversations and those hours upon hours of repetition for what they really are? Those are our most Ambassadorial opportunities we have. Those are the moments ripe for reconciliation. Those are the very reasons God put you into the life of your kids.
You see, we wrongly view parenting (or the best parts of parenting) as the simple education and guidance through the logistics of life (colors, relationships, money). But the beauty and majesty and privilege of parenting is guiding our kids through the struggles of life.
Lord willing, our very next series is going to deal with “Parenting Suffering Children.” I plan for it to be at least a 4-part episode followed by a 2-part episode from a man who’s had to parent his children through vast amounts of family tension, childhood cancer, and the death of a parent.
No one, including my Special Guest, enjoys that kind of parenting. No one would wish it on anyone, but when we dig into the Scriptures and view life the way God does, we can’t help but see those moments for what they really are — glorious, redemptive, beautiful.
Now, I have an abnormal, and slightly lengthy conclusion for us today. I going to take the next few minutes to read the majority of an article to you. It’s called “The Most Important Question in Your Life” by Mark Manson.
The most interesting thing about this article is not that it’s so right in so many ways, but that it’s not written from a biblical perspective.
“So why are you reading it? I thought only God’s Word could equip us to be good parents?”
I’m sharing it with you because this unregenerate author has seen the truth of what we’re discussing today. He gets it even though far too many Christian parents don’t. And that should give us pause. That should cause some Good Shame.
Here’s what Mr. Manson believes:
“Everybody wants what feels good. Everyone wants to live a carefree, happy and easy life, to fall in love and have amazing sex and relationships, to look perfect and make money and be popular and well-respected and admired and a total baller to the point that people part like the Red Sea when you walk into the room.”
We could add to this list, “everyone wants to have well-mannered, smart, God-loving children.”
The author continues . . .
“Everyone would like that — it’s easy to like that.
“If I ask you, ‘What do you want out of life?’ and you say something like, ‘I want to be happy and have a great family and a job I like,’ it’s so ubiquitous that it doesn’t even mean anything.
“A more interesting question, a question that perhaps you’ve never considered before, is what pain do you want in your life? What are you willing to struggle for? Because that seems to be a greater determinant of how our lives turn out.
“People want an amazing physique. But you don’t end up with one unless you legitimately appreciate the pain and physical stress that comes with living inside a gym for hour upon hour, unless you love calculating and calibrating the food you eat, planning your life out in tiny plate-sized portions.
“People want to start their own business or become financially independent. But you don’t end up a successful entrepreneur unless you find a way to appreciate the risk, the uncertainty, the repeated failures, and working insane hours on something you have no idea whether will be successful or not."
And I would add here: people want their children to be healthy and talented and competent and independent. But great kids aren’t born; you can’t send them off on their own and expect them to be amazing adults. You have to work and sweat and cry and bleed to rear a complex and spiritually victorious adult.
And he continues . . .
“What determines your success isn’t ‘What do you want to enjoy?’ The question is, ‘What pain do you want to sustain?’ The quality of your life is not determined by the quality of your positive experiences but the quality of your negative experiences. And to get good at dealing with negative experiences is to get good at dealing with life.
“There’s a lot of crappy advice out there that says, “You’ve just got to want it enough!”
“Everybody wants something. And everybody wants something ‘enough.’ They just aren’t aware of what it is they want, or rather, what they want ‘enough.’
“Because if you want the benefits of something in life, you have to also want the costs. If you want the beach body, you have to want the sweat, the soreness, the early mornings, and the hunger pangs.
“If you find yourself wanting something month after month, year after year, yet nothing happens and you never come any closer to it, then maybe what you actually want is a fantasy, an idealization, an image and a false promise. Maybe what you want isn’t what you want, you just enjoy wanting. Maybe you don’t actually want it at all.
“Sometimes I ask people, ‘How do you choose to suffer?’ These people tilt their heads and look at me like I have twelve noses. But I ask because that tells me far more about you than your desires and fantasies. Because you have to choose something. You can’t have a pain-free life. It can’t all be roses and unicorns. And ultimately that’s the hard question that matters. Pleasure is an easy question. And pretty much all of us have similar answers. The more interesting question is the pain. What is the pain that you want to sustain?
“That answer will actually get you somewhere. It’s the question that can change your life. It’s what makes me me and you you. It’s what defines us and separates us and ultimately brings us together.”
And here he gives us a really good object lesson.
“For most of my adolescence and young adulthood, I fantasized about being a musician — a rock star, in particular . . . This fantasy could keep me occupied for hours on end. The fantasizing continued up through college, even after I dropped out of music school and stopped playing seriously. But even then it was never a question of if I’d ever be up playing in front of screaming crowds, but when. I was biding my time before I could invest the proper amount of time and effort into getting out there and making it work. First, I needed to finish school. Then, I needed to make money. Then, I needed to find the time. Then… and then nothing.
“Despite fantasizing about this for over half of my life, the reality never came. And it took me a long time and a lot of negative experiences to finally figure out why: I didn’t actually want it.
“I was in love with the result — the image of me on stage, people cheering, me rocking out, pouring my heart into what I’m playing — but I wasn’t in love with the process. And because of that, I failed at it. Repeatedly. . . . I didn’t even try hard enough to fail at it. I hardly tried at all.
“The daily drudgery of practicing, the logistics of finding a group and rehearsing, the pain of finding gigs and actually getting people to show up . . . . The broken strings, the blown tube amp, hauling 40 pounds of gear to and from rehearsals with no car. It’s a mountain of a dream and a mile-high climb to the top. And what it took me a long time to discover is that I didn’t like to climb much. I just liked to imagine the top.
“Our culture would tell me that I’ve somehow failed myself, that I’m a quitter or a loser. Self-help would say that I either wasn’t courageous enough, determined enough or I didn’t believe in myself enough. The entrepreneurial/start-up crowd would tell me that I chickened out on my dream and gave in to my conventional social conditioning. I’d be told to do affirmations or join a mastermind group or manifest or something.
“But the truth is far less interesting than that: I thought I wanted something, but it turns out I didn’t. End of story.
“I wanted the reward and not the struggle. I wanted the result and not the process. I was in love not with the fight but only the victory. And life doesn’t work that way.
“Who you are is defined by the values you are willing to struggle for. People who enjoy the struggles of a gym are the ones who get in good shape. People who enjoy long workweeks and the politics of the corporate ladder are the ones who move up it. People who enjoy the stresses and uncertainty of the starving artist lifestyle are ultimately the ones who live it and make it.
“This is not a call for willpower or ‘grit.’ This is not another admonishment of ‘no pain, no gain.”
“This is the most simple and basic component of life: our struggles determine our successes. So choose your struggles wisely, my friend.”
Mr. Manson gets it.
Despite the fact that he doesn’t see God in his dilemma, despite the fact that he’s still offering his life on the altar to self, Mark Manson gets what we so often fail to see . . . it’s not our parenting dreams and aspirations that are beautiful, it’s the pain we have to endure to get there.
Without the pain, without the suffering, there will be no victory.
You will never enjoy the momentary view from atop a prestigious mountain range without the multiple-day, death-defying ascent. The view is for a moment, but the journey took everything we had.
This is why only people who love the climb undertake the journey. And it’s why they’re the only ones who get to see the view.
We will never have Christ-honoring kids if we don’t parent their sin and introduce them to Christ.
We will never have God say of our parenting, “Well done, my good and faithful servant,” if we don’t use the daily struggles and conflicts and disobedience to point our children to Christ.
Our children may not submit to their Creator if we don’t take full advantage of their poor choices and Failure Philosophies to show them that they are puny gods in need of perfect a Heavenly Father.
Now, God is gracious. I’m not suggesting that if you embrace the right kind of suffering, you’re guaranteed to stare out over the gorgeous vista that is spiritually victorious children. Parenting is not a formula. God is also gracious that He calls and justifies and sanctifies our kids even when we did a really bad job. When we were all enamored with the pleasure and trying to avoid the pain, He was doing the work in which He invited us to participate.
But the reality still stands that God desires for us to be ministers of reconciliation, to be used as heralds of the Good News, to participate with Him in the maturing of our kids.
What is the most beautiful part of parenting? I believe it’s the conversations we don’t normally like to have. It’s the consequences we don’t want to give. It’s the constant reminders we don’t want to repeat. It’s the daily Truth in Love that God wants to use to mature our children in Christ.
In those moments we are a vital part of God’s redemptive Gospel story. The Lord has allowed us to play a part in the reconciliation of our kids.
God gives us parents the grand and glorious privilege of being part of the awesome plan — devised in eternity past — to pour God’s infinite love on underserving wretches.
That is the most beautiful part of our parenting.
When your kids are arguing in the next room, that’s a moment for you to participate in the most amazing job you could desire.
When you child throws her food on the floor, that’s a gorgeous time to point her to Christ.
When you discover your son is addicted to pornography, that’s God’s blessing on you and your family. That’s a divine opportunity for you to be an Ambassador Parent. Ambassadors don’t hang out in their home towns. They go to places far away from their comfort. Ambassador Parenting is going to call us into dirty back alleys and desperate ghettos. But the fact that God has tasked us to bring light and purity and Good News to those wrecked locales is what makes the calling so beautiful.
I hope this episode encouraged you. I hope you’re able to see the beautiful responsibility you have in the difficult parts of parenting.
Please share this episode on your favorite social media outlets so other parents can appreciate the real beauty of parenting.
And if you need specialized assistance for your family struggles, don’t hesitate to reach us at Counselor@TruthLoveParent.com. We believe family struggles are beautiful opportunities to participate in God’s redemptive plan, and we would love to help in any way we can.
Remember, if we want our children to grow up into Christ, we must parent in truth and love — because that’s the most beautiful thing we can do.
To that end, join us next time as start discussing how to parent suffering children.
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