Resolved to Be a Godly Parent
There’s a saying that goes “Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.” I like this thought and appreciate the built-in opportunity to start over and start fresh. Whether the beginning of a new day, week, month or season, there is so much hope that accompanies a fresh start. And this time each year, we are given the wonderful opportunity to say goodbye to a year gone by and hello to another blessed fresh start.
Many of us also approach each new year with a time of reflection and resolution. When it comes to parenting, there are so many moments to look back on; we reflect back on moments of failure, moments of quick anger and moments of missed opportunity. It’s easy to look forward and say, “I hope my parenting is better—much better—than last year.” However, what if we all stopped trying to be better parents and resolved to be godly parents, just like He designed?
The great theologian Jonathan Edwards is credited with the great awakening in America. He was a man of great resolve and was determined to live every moment to the glory of God. As part of his disciplined life he wrote out 70 Resolutions to live by. These helped him focus on his own personal mission for God. As a parent, we can adopt his passion and create our own resolutions (although you don’t have to start out with 70) with our mission focused on our children. Here are just four to begin with:
Resolved: To make the Word of God the greatest influence in my children’s life.
The most effective way to do this is to let the Word of God be the greatest influence in your own life. When my children come down the stairs each morning and they see me studying the Bible at my desk, they know that God’s Word is important to me, and a great influence in my life. I want my children to hunger for the Bread of Life (John 6:35). I want my children to chew and digest “every word that comes from the mouth of God” (Deut. 8:3).
I also want my children to swim upstream in a crumbling culture that has been deemed biblically illiterate. I want my children to know the “power of God unto salvation” (Rom 1:16) that comes from the “glorious gospel of the blessed God” (1 Tim 1:11). When I am resolved to make the Word of God my daily bread, they, too, will see it as their greatest influence.
Resolved: To use every gospel opportunity the Lord gives me.
Let’s face it, our kids are going to sin. Afterall, they are the product of the union of two sinners. The old adage, “the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree,” too often rings true. Unfortunately for most of us, our kids are more like us than we want to admit, which also includes the not-so-godly character traits we sometimes exhibit. Whether our children are beating the stuffing out of each other for the twelfth time in one day (of course this never happens in my house!), or they’ve gotten us to snap at them because they asked for another treat after we clearly told them “NO!” 358 times in the last three minutes, we must react wisely, and remember that these, too, are gospel moments God gives us.
When we fail as parents, we can model confession and repentance for our children. When our children fail, we can teach them to confess their sins, turn away from them, and turn toward Christ in faith. The gospel should be an integral part of our lives. It’s not something we come to just once at salvation, although that is part of it; it is the life-saving message we dwell in, over and over again. As parents we must be resolved to make the most of every gospel opportunity that the Lord allows us with our children. It’s not that they are bad kids, it’s that they are sinners who need the Savior, just like us. When we parent with resolve, we can turn every sinning session into an opportunity for the gospel.
Resolved: To live as an example of Christ for my children.
How many times are you an example of what not to do when parenting. If you are like me, you often feel like you belong on the cover of “Parent Fails” magazine (this doesn’t really exist, or at least I hope not!). None of us want to be the example of how not to act, how not to speak, how not to behave, etc. Although we can learn a lot from “how not to” examples, and I’m sure you have some characteristics from your own parents that you strive not to emulate, we want to be the model of “how to” in Christ.
As parents, we desire to be an example of a Spirit-filled life (Eph 5:18), producing fruit of the Spirit so great and grand that our families think that our fruit has been doused with Miracle-Gro. But sadly, when we lack resolve, our fruit is often the size of a grape, or worse yet, a raisin. Parents who are resolved to live as an example of Christ will live a life full of the Spirit, because they are filled with the Word (Col 3:18). When a parent chooses to live a resolved life, he/she will be the example of Christ their child needs.
Resolved: To parent with more grace and less law.
I’m sure you’ve heard a parent say, “Because I said so,” as he/she laid down the law to their children. You’ve likely used the same line a time or two during your own “great” parenting moments. In the Bible, we learn that Father God used the law in His parenting as well. But God provided the “law as our guardian until Christ came” (Gal 3:24). Christ came to fulfill the law (Matt 5:17) and now He offers the free gift of grace to all who believe. God doesn’t hold the law over our heads and say “Just do it because I said so.” Instead, God extends the gift of grace to us. Pause and think about how that demonstrates His love for us. Shouldn’t we extend that same loving grace to our children as well? Shouldn’t we offer more grace-based solutions and stop being the lawgivers in our homes? Believe me, if we parent with resolve, we will stop demanding strict adherence to our law and start allowing grace to overflow in our families. It’s amazing to step back and watch God at work when we make this commitment.
I hope you are now ready to make a few new parenting resolutions that will carry beyond the new year.