Your child is an eternal soul in a transient body.
Pardon my bluntness, but from what I understand, as a human, there is a 100% chance of death.
This may seem like a grim thought, but it really needs to be considered. Because how else will we decide how to live, how to spend the life we have been given, if we do not first understand that we only have it for a relatively brief span of time?
How else would we recognize the immense precious worth of the moments we have been given now to impact not only our children but through them, their children and children’s children?
A common current way of thinking is to work to establish a ‘kingdom’ in one’s own lifetime, of things, money, and a reputation that will bring a sense of success or value while one is alive. But a far more reasonable and worthwhile mentality is that, while recognizing our own mortality, we deliberately aim to produce value and lasting impact for when we are no longer here.
The best way to do this is to invest in our children’s character and relationship with their Creator-King.
As immortal souls, they truly will be one lasting thing that we will have had the privilege of helping create while on earth. Businesses may close, wealth may be spent and pass to others, reputation and significance will fade. But to impact another person’s character – to help imprint them and shift them from one aspect into something different – that is to bear the weight of co-creation, in a way. It’s working to build up a Kingdom that is going to last through eternity – God’s Kingdom.
That God has seen fit to allow such a flawed and imperfect person as myself the exquisite honor of using my time and efforts to guide my eight young children’s minds and hearts on a path that leads towards Him is something truly incredible. How I choose to steward my time with them impacts their minds, hearts, and lives. I have the opportunity to shape these eight little people like no other human will.
So how am I using this season I am assigned to this work? How are you using the time you have?
Once we recognize our limited time given for this task, not only because we are all mortal, but because there is only a relatively short span when we have the undivided attention and respect of our children when they are young, parenting becomes (rightfully) something we should look at with seriousness and earnestness.
And probably a little something akin to a holy panic.
Because how in the world are we actually supposed to do this?!?
Again to be quite blunt: We’re not. Our job is to enable God to do His in the hearts and minds of our children while allowing Him full authority over our own.
We are to be the under-gardeners. The under-shepherds. The teaching assistants, the mentors, the stewards, the butlers, and housekeepers. None of it is truly ours to hold in the first place.
It all belongs to the Great Overseer of our souls, our Good Shepherd, our Teacher, Master Gardener, High King, and Lord of all. We can find comfort knowing that our children are ultimately not our responsibility, but our Father’s.
He is the One who will plant the seeds – we are to help keep the soil soft and as weed-free, as we can, watering and fertilizing, building fences, and staying vigilant to keep marauders and pests out.
He is the One who the sheep listen to – we are to help guard the lambs and teach them to know His voice and follow Him quickly to find life-giving food, clear water, and nurturing care.
He is the Teacher – we are to help with the lessons and homework He gives, provides encouragement and pointers during hard tests, and cheer and congratulate when successful learning takes place.
And in that knowledge, we can find the galvanizing reality that we will answer to Him for how we have spent our time with the littles in our charge, whether they be our own children or anyone in need of guidance and discipleship that He has brought into our lives in the season we’re in now.
He has chosen each of us specifically for good works that He has planned out for us before time began (Ephesians 2:10). So, we can find the strength, hope, wisdom, love, and courage to walk in those works only as we daily seek direction and help from our Father.
And the main source of direction and help that He has lovingly provided for us: His Holy Word.
There is a saying that God has no grandchildren. Our faith is ours, and our children must grow and develop their own faith-relationship with Him. Our job, then, is to enable and encourage and guide that relationship, not to try to be a representative or surrogate for them to God. It would perhaps be more accurate to say that God wants you to represent Him to your children!
We should disciple and teach our children while holding the idea that eventually they will become mature adults and followers of Christ – and as such, will become our brothers and sisters in God’s kingdom. This means we should behave toward them with the respect, kindness, and grace we would give others outside our family, and not grow careless or lazy in how we treat or train our children, even when they are young.
“Who then is adequate for such a task as this?” (2 Corinthians 2:16). As stunning and overwhelming as it may seem, if you are a parent or a caregiver of young children, God has chosen you to carry out this awesome task. And He promises to give you everything you need for it:
And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.”
(2 Corinthians 9:8, NIV)
“We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves.” (2 Corinthians 4:7, NLT, emphasis mine)
Our children don’t need us to be perfect. They already know we’re not. They just need us to keep shining out the Light through our broken places so that they can see the path toward our perfect God for themselves.
And the brighter the better.
We are not promised tomorrow. Let’s make the most of the time we have today.
Make a commitment to yourself and to God today to be the parent He has called you to be. Pray and commit yourself and your kids to Him entirely. Want extra accountability? I would love to hear your story! Send me a reply, and I will read it and pray for you. Parenting is a high and challenging calling, my friend.
You do not have to walk it alone.
This is an updated edition of a post originally published on East Willow Place