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Nearly all dads’ and moms’ parenting styles are a reaction to their own parents. They either parent very similarly to their parents or they’ve worked as hard as possible to be different from their parents.
Yes, there are people who have studied parenting — like you are right now — but most just do what their parent’s did.
But is that valuable?
I supposed the answer to that question depends on whether their parents had a valuable parenting style.
But how is someone to know? How am I to know whether I should or shouldn’t lead my kids the way my parents lead me? Does it matter whether I liked my parents’ parenting? How can I know if my parenting is valuable?
Well, we’re going to answer that question today, and I’m going to link a couple other episodes in the description that seek to answer similar questions. TLP 388 is called Can You Defend Your Parenting? and episode 389 teaches us how to have Defensible Parenting. I hope you’ll study those episodes as well.
But before we continue today, I wonder if you’ve ever scoured TruthLoveParent.com. We have so many resources there, but some people don’t realize that we have lists of board game recommendations, a store where you can purchase Christ-honoring apparel and housewares, resource lists, biblical counseling, and so much more.
If you’ve never visited TruthLoveParent.com, or you haven’t been there in a while, you should check it out.
In fact, that’s where you’ll find our blog, Taking Back the Family, where you can download free episode notes and transcripts.
Alright, now let’s discover how to make our parenting valuable.
When most people hear the word “vain,” they imagine someone who is stuck on himself. The first definition in Merriam-Webster is “having or showing undo or excessive pride in one’s appearance or achievements.”
However, the second and third definitions read, “marked by futility or ineffectiveness” and “having no real value.”
And this is the meaning we’re intended to understand when Solomon proclaims, “Vanity of Vanities, all is vanity.”
Have you ever felt like your parenting was in vain? Has all your work and time and money seemed empty and futile?
Have you ever felt like it doesn’t matter what you say or do, it’s not going to work out?
Well, then you’re human.
Unfortunately, I can’t promise you that your parenting hasn’t been in vain.
Now, I know, the title of today’s episode is “Your Parenting is Not in Vain.” And I desperately want that to be true for you. But’s it’s not a guarantee.
Therefore, my hope for today is for us to understand what vain parenting is and what it’s not, to learn what makes it vain, and to discover how to give our parenting significance no matter what.
So, let’s start with our first point.
1. What is vain parenting?
I think it’s easy for people to feel like their parenting was pointless when their kids don’t turn out the way they want them too.
And the problem is, they may be right. But, whether we parented correctly or not, the success of our parenting has nothing to do with how our kids turn out.
Does that surprise you?
I want to give you some LifeWork today.
If you’re new to the show, LifeWork is way better than homework because no one likes homework, but everyone wants a better life.
Also, since we only have a limited amount of time, during every show I try to give you other resources that will expand or compliment the current episode.
Normally, I have a list of suggested podcasts episodes to consider, but today I’m going to tell you that — even if you’re already heard the two episodes I’m going to assign — you really need to listen to them.
Let’s start the New Year off right. If we don’t truly understand what I’m about to say, then our parenting is very much in danger of being futile, vain, empty, and worthless.
And I don’t want that for you.
Here’s your additional study today.
In episode 87 we answer the question “What is Successful Parenting?” That episode is only 11 minutes long, and it will give us a solid foundation for this first point.
Successful parenting is not having children that turn out the way we want them too.
Let me say that again, successful parenting is not when your children become everything you ever wanted them to be.
I’ll even go a step further and say that successful parenting is not when your children turn out to be everything God wants them to be.
We have no control over our children. If the value of our parenting were wrapped up in our kids’ performance, then we would have to conclude that God’s not a very successful God.
Yeah, that’s right.
Most of His creation has rejected Him. Even His chosen people crucified Him. And how many in His church actually follow Him the way they should?
So, listen to “What is Successful Parenting?” when this episode is over in order to really, biblically understand what I’m saying here.
And the second part of your LifeWork is to listen to episode 94. It’s called, “How to Train Your Child to Stay with God.” That episode shows the flip side of this concept. It unwraps the only was we can ever hope to have our children turn out the way God wants them too. That episode is extremely valuable on its own, but it adds an additional layer to this study because it too demonstrates that your children will not follow after God simply because you did your part.
Remember, whether you’re heard those episodes already or not, you’re only going to benefit with those Truths fresh in your mind.
So, we need to start with the understanding that your parenting is not necessarily in vain if your kids don’t turn out right.
Now, it’s true that vain parenting may be part of what motivates your kids to reject God, but you won’t be judged by their rebellion.
That means that vain parenting — or inversely, valuable parenting — rests solely on your shoulders.
Number 1, vain parenting occurs when I do wrong and has nothing to do with the actions of my children.
That right there should give you hope.
But we still need to identify what causes vain parenting.
2. What makes my parenting vain?
For this answer, we need to consider I Corinthians 15:58. This is what Paul wrote to the Corinthian church: “Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.”
Isn’t that encouraging?! This church was being told by Paul that they could know their labors had not been futile.
What can we learn from this passage?
Well, the verse starts with a “therefore,” so we need some context in order to understand what the “therefore” is there for.
Chapter 15 starts with the resurrection of Christ. That’s super encouraging. I’d say that the resurrection is far more important than His birth or His death, because without Christ’s resurrection, His birth and life and death would have been in vain.
Then the emphasis of the chapter moves to the resurrection of the dead. This is even more encouraging.
Because Christ rose from the dead, we can have confidence that our death will not be the end either.
And then Paul talks about the resurrection of the body.
This is abundantly amazing because not only are His children not going to remain dead, and not only are they going to be raised, they’re going to be raised with glorified bodies that are free from sin!!
Isn’t that amazing?!
So then the chapter ends with a victorious proclamation concerning the mystery of God’s power and grace.
And that’s the context that ends with, “Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.”
Because our God reigns supreme over life and death, we can know that our labor need not be in vain — even when facing the end of our lives.
But in order to answer the question, “What makes my parenting vain?” we need to look at the last part of the verse.
“Knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.”
Can you describe your parenting as being “in the Lord”?
As we answer our third question today, we’re going to crack open what it means to parent in the Lord. We have another series called “Parenting in Christ.”
The concept of Parenting in Christ is so powerful and life-changing.
As we move to our third question for the day, let’s review.
1. Vain parenting rests solely on our shoulders and has nothing to do with how our children turn out.
2. Vain parenting comes as a result of not parenting in the Lord.
So, 3. How do we give our parenting value no matter what?
In order to answer this question, let’s pick apart the verse some more.
Let’s start at the end, and then wrap around to the beginning.
First, we see that the only way our parenting won’t be in vain is if we’re parenting in the Lord.
“In the Lord your labor is not in vain.”
This means two things. It means that we must — number one — have a relationship with God. The whole chapter rests on that premise.
Number two, it means that our work — our parenting — must be accomplished in God’s way.
This should remind long-time listeners of our “Teach Your Children to Obey” series.
True obedience is doing the right thing in the right way for the right reason in the right power.
We can’t claim to be parenting in the Lord if we’re not parenting the way He commands for the reasons He commands in the power He provides to accomplish it.
So, how does one parent in the Lord?
Well, defining that question is pretty much the entire purpose of Truth.Love.Parent. We want to immerse ourselves in God’s Word in order to know, understand, believe, and put into practice God’s Truth in God’s love in our parenting.
However, Paul highlights four essentials to parenting “in the Lord.”
1. As I already mentioned, we must be born again.
Paul refers to his audience as “brothers.” They’re members of the body of Christ, joint heirs of His kingdom because they have put their full faith and trust in His saving work on the cross and subsequent resurrection.
Dear parent, are you born again?
If not, your parenting will be in vain.
Even if your children turn out well, your parenting will have been futile because it will have failed to glorify your Creator.
2. God calls us to be steadfast.
This Greek word is an interesting one. It’s used all over the New Testament in various ways because it can mean something as simple as “to be,” but it can also refer to being finished, coming to pass, and continuing.
Here, the translators have determined that Paul is calling us to remain steadfast. Merriam-Webster defines “steadfast” this way: “firm in belief, determination, or adherence.”
Dads and moms, we need to be firm in our love for and fealty to Christ.
But we must not merely be firm.
One could say that a tree is rooted firmly in the ground, and yet a strong enough storm may unearth it.
This is why, 3. God commands us to be immoveable.
This word is only used once in the whole of the Bible, and it refers to something that cannot be moved from its place.
Are you the type of person who’s not only rooted on God’s Truth, but from which you refuse to budge?
When it comes to man’s opinion or God’s perfect Word, where do you stand?
Have life experiences caused you to doubt what the Bible teaches us about God?
Are you willing to substitute Truth because your kids begged, terrorized, or otherwise manipulated you into it?
In order to have valuable, successful, significance in our parenting, we must be resolute.
And lastly, 4. God requires that we always abound in His work.
There are three important facets to this.
As always, we must take special note when God uses superlatives. He said “always,” not “sometimes” or “most of the time.”
Second, He calls us to abound. This word refers to being in excess, superabounding to point of superfluousness.
And third, we’re to always be overachieving in what? — in the work of the Lord.
We have no promise that our parenting will not be in vain if we’re not working according to His purposes.
This should remind us of Romans 8:28, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”
Mom and dad, can your parenting be defined as the work of the Lord?
Are we consistently excelling in parenting the way God outlines in His Word?
If so, then we can rest assured that our parenting will not be in vain.
Do you see how these four elements work together?
It starts with a relationship with God, then it moves to the natural reality that our lives will be rooted in the person with Whom we have the relationship. Then it shows us the necessity of completely cementing ourselves in God’s Truth. And the natural outcomes of such a relationship is that we will be doing God’s work.
And it ends with the promise that all who do the work of the Lord can know that their work was not in vain.
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