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I’m your host AMBrewster, and this series is an important summation of Truth.Love.Parent.’s past 500 episodes. It’s a necessary refresher for those who’ve heard the episodes, and a valuable first time introduction for our new listeners who might not be able to go back and listen to all 500 of them. So we’re distilling all the truth down to 12 vital episodes.
Last time we talked about the first and most important part of being a biblical parent — your relationship with God and the subsequent content of your parenting.
Today we’re going to look at the second most important part of being a biblical parent, and we’re going to see how this part actually helps us get an idea of how well we’re doing on the first part.
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And—with that—let’s dive in.
Last time we talked about the fact that God wants you to be His Ambassador in your home. That means that—if you’re going to represent Him well—the content of your parenting has to be filled with God, His Word, and the Gospel. As you speak God’s truth in love into every facet of your parenting, it will have a profound affect on your kids. In fact, that affect will be undeniable.
Am I saying that quoting the Scriptures and keeping a continual God-focus in your home is guaranteed to make your kids turn out right? No. But I am saying the impact will be undeniable. So, let’s clarify by looking at our first point for the day.
As you mature in your relationship with God and call your children to Him . . .
1. Some children will respond to the content of your parenting by choosing to submit to and follow Christ.
If I’m teaching my kids to love cooking, and when dinner time rolls around they run to the kitchen exclaiming, “It’s time to make dinner!” And then they start talking in excited tones about recipes and prepping and cooking . . . that’s a pretty good sign that I’ve been successful in trying to instill in my kids a love for cooking.
If God is the main content of our parenting, then it shouldn’t surprise anyone when our kids start talking about God more, desiring to learn more about Him, and wanting to know what He has to say about their lives.
If the Bible is the main content of our parenting, then it shouldn’t surprise anyone when our kids start reading it more, memorizing it, and turning to it for guidance.
If the Gospel is the main content of our parenting, then it shouldn’t surprise anyone when our kids start reveling in the Gospel, making decisions in light of it, and sharing it with others.
Now, obviously, this requires a supernatural act of God. Remember, we can’t control our children’s hearts. We simply make it easy to do right and hard to do wrong by creating the right atmosphere in our homes—the main facet of which is the content that comes out of our mouths. How our kids respond to the atmosphere—embracing or rejecting it—is up to them and God.
But the biblical reality is that God uses His Ambassadors to be salt and light and draw people to Him. That means that if you are speaking truth in love and your children are submitting to God, being born again, and growing in their sanctification, it’s a result of God using the truth in love you’re speaking to soften their hearts and draw them to Him.
So, in this context, the second more important part of your parenting is discipling your children who are submitting to Christ and becoming His disciples. And the subsequent disciplining of your kids is likely an evidence of the fact that you have been parenting well. Lord willing, this is an evidence of the fact that God was using you in the process whether or not you were the one to lead your child to Christ in the moment.
But there’s another possibility. Parenting isn’t a formula. In fact, we have two very important episodes to this point. One of them is called “There is No Formula for Parenting,” and the other is “How to Train Your Child to Stay with God.” In those episodes we talk about the lie of deterministic parenting styles and the importance of our children’s participation. But what if our kids don’t participate in our God-centered parenting?
2. Some children will respond to the content of your parenting by choosing to continue rebelling against Christ.
Now, how could this be evidence that you are parenting well?
When was the last time your child kicked and screamed and cried and refused to eat a rock? Yeah, probably never. Why? Because you never required them to eat a rock.
People don’t generally waste their time making a fuss about things that have no impact on them whatsoever. When was the last time you refused to submit to Captain James T. Kirk of the starship Enterprise?
Children who don’t believe in God—or don’t know to believe in God—don’t go through their day aggressively fighting the concept of God. Instead, they go to school and practice and home just like other kids. Sure, they push back against teachers and coaches and parents, but they’re not pushing back against God because He doesn’t factor into their day.
Now, take that atheistic child and put them into a home or school where God is the main focus of the home, and suddenly that child will start pushing back pretty hard against the ideas and truth-statements they had previously never even considered. Either that or they’ll submit to the truth.
If you’re parenting for Christ by bringing Him, His Word, and His Gospel into nearly every parenting opportunity, then the kids who don’t want to hear about, submit to, or otherwise even think about God are going to eventually push back because they won’t be able to escape the constant preoccupation with Him.
When I work with a young person who complains about how his parents make him go to church and require him to obey in the home, that’s an evidence of the fact that the parents are focusing on some important things. And the more the child hates those things, the harder the child will push back.
Unfortunately, since most of my ministry has been working with rebellious children, what I’ve found is that many parents who wanted to glorify God in their parenting by making Him the main focus got so tired of their children pushing back that they eventually stopped talking about God, His Word, and the Gospel. They surrendered before the child surrendered.
And you know what happened? Their kids did stop pushing back against the God-content because it wasn’t there anymore. Why would someone say, “Stop taking about God!” if no one is talking about God?
So, in a similar way that your active discipling of your child is an evidence of the fact that your parenting content is God-centered, your active teaching, reproving, and evangelizing of your child is also evidence of the fact that your parenting content is God-centered.
Remember, your children’s rebellion is not inherently proof that your Ambassadorial Parenting is failing. You can’t change anyone, and it’s the pushback that proves that there was some spiritual push in the first place.
Consider the qualifications for an elder in I Timothy 3:4-5, “He must be one who manages his own household well, keeping his children under control with all dignity 5 (but if a man does not know how to manage his own household, how will he take care of the church of God?).” The question here is not about the submission of the home, but the management of the home. Have they been doing their part?
And remember that even though God is the perfect Creator-Parent, His creation and His chosen people rebelled against Him all the time. In fact more people have rejected Him than have ever submitted to Him.
So just remember this—the pushback you receive is not a reason to change your parenting content. You mustn’t throw up your hands and cry, “It’s not working!” If you believe in parental determinism, and you think you can mold your child like a toddler molds Play-Doh, then you’d be right to think your parenting “isn’t working.” But your parenting isn’t about you or your kids. It’s about God. Your parenting is working when you are speaking God’s truth in God’s love. It’s glorifying the Lord and resulting in your maturity. That’s the whole point.
That means that when your kids push back against truth, that’s an invitation to keep the truth flowing. You’re doing the right thing, you’re pleasing the Lord, and it’s hitting a sore spot with the child—a spiritual need. And—Lord willing—your faithful salt and light will be used by God in the future to soften your child.
But how your kids respond to your parenting isn’t the only or the best way to evaluate your parenting.
3. Some children submit to God or rebel against God despite their parents.
Here’s what I mean by this: I’ve known kids who have come to know the Lord, submit to Him, and mature beautifully despite the fact that their parents were unbelievers. I’ve also known kids who were highly antagonistic toward authority even though their parents weren’t strong leaders.
There are so many influences in the life of your child, and you don’t ultimately have any control over them, so who your children are and how they act is not necessarily a good indicator of your parenting. It can be when coupled with our final point of the day, but it shouldn’t be considered the sole or best indicator.
Too many parents imagine that just because their kids are compliant, well-mannered, and good students, the parent’s parenting must be all it needs to be. Generally speaking, however, that’s not the case at all. None of the things I just mentioned are indicators of spiritual life and growth. None of those things require Holy Spirit empowerment.
That’s why . . . the second most important part of biblical parenting (and the best way to evaluate your parenting) is . . .
4. Biblical Parenting matures over time.
People like to stagnate. They really do. They don’t like learning, they don’t appreciate the necessity of change and growth. They so often just want to be the personality-equivalent of couch potatoes.
But truly biblical parenting is changing-parenting. It’s not the same this year as it was the year before.
Of course, change for change’s sake isn’t good change. We need to be maturing, growing, and changing into the image of God for His glory.
If you only sometimes worked God, His Word, and the Gospel into your parenting, but you’re doing it twice as much now . . . that’s a great evidence of the fact that you are maturing in your parenting.
So, are you evangelizing and discipling your children better this year than you did last year? What about this month versus last month? What about this week? How about today versus yesterday? What about after you’re done listening to this podcast?
If you truly are an Ambassador of Christ, then you are a born again believer who the Holy Spirit is progressively conforming into the image of Jesus from one degree of glory to another. That means that you (and your parenting) should be growing and changing and maturing.
You and I need to be speaking more consistently and accurately about God, the Bible, and the Gospel. We need to be teaching and reproving and correcting and training better than we did before. And that’s what the rest of this series is going to address.
The following 10 episodes are going to pick apart the four phases of biblical parenting in order to help you do each of them better. Each episode will not only address desperately important parts of each phase, but will also give you some amazing resources you can use to hone in on the area of your parenting that needs the most attention.
And—of course— the TLP Counselors would love to help you get even more specific in your growth. You can reach out to us at counselor@TruthLoveParent.com to learn more.
And—speaking of resources—let me give you a few more right now.
When you visit TruthLoveParent.com to learn more about how you can donate to this ministry, you can also visit today’s episode page. There you will find links to our Discipleship Parenting Series which is chock-full of so many important biblical lessons. One of those episodes is the Disciple-Making Parents show, and I’ve already mentioned the incredibly valuable “5th Way to Parent Series” and our introduction to how to be an Ambassador Parent.
Any and all of those resources can be a significant help as you fill your parenting with God, the Scriptures, and the Gospel, and get better at it this year.
I pray this series is part of the process God uses to make you a more biblical parent. And as it is, I hope you will share this series with your friends, pastors, and communities.
And remember that you can always reach us at Counselor@TruthLoveParent.com or (828) 423-0894.
I hope you’ll join us next time as we once again open God’s Word to discover how to best worship God with our parenting. To that end, we’ll be discussing the necessary methods that are part of the first phase of biblical parenting.
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