The Best Parenting Decision

I admit it. I thought parenting would be easier. Like the former Pharisee, I considered all the reasons to put confidence in myself.

My parents’ good example? Check. Healthy marriage? Check. Sunday school teacher, camp counselor, faith in God? Check, check, check. We’d even fostered eight children. Bonus check!

Parenting should be a piece of cake, or at least something my husband and I could handle.

Problem Within

Obviously, I failed to consider the very thing that makes parenting a challenge—our flesh (Rom. 7:18). My child is a sinner. My husband is a sinner. I am a sinner. As my daughter put it so well once, when asked why she’d misbehaved: “Because I want what I want when I want it.” We all, if truly honest, feel the same way. Selfishness, laziness, jealousy—they aren’t just what we need to address in our children, but also in ourselves.

Don’t get me wrong: our daughter is a joy and a delight. But parenting is still hard because it’s a battle for her heart and soul. And it’s a battle against the sinful, selfish desires of my own heart and soul.

Turning Point

During one particularly challenging season, I felt like a failure in so many parenting areas. The pressure to make the right decisions, have the right talks, and disciple the right way began to overwhelm me. Then I was reminded (yet again) that I do not have the power to change my child. God does.

My child needs my words, my example, my counsel, and my love. But even more, she needs God’s Word, his example, his counsel, and his love.

My child needs my words, my example, my counsel, and my love. But even more, she needs God’s Word, his example, his counsel, and his love.

We have a great deal of influence on our children. We shouldn’t take that lightly. But the temptation is to make my influence more important than God’s, to put more weight on my words than on his.

In that moment, I felt challenged to read through God’s Word with my daughter. We attended church regularly, and the Bible was woven into her schoolwork and our lives. She had even memorized Scripture. What was missing, though, was a commitment to regularly expose her to the whole counsel of God.

So we began to read each day before school.

This one small commitment has blessed me so much as a parent. I have a front-row seat to God’s work in her life. The resulting conversations have far exceeded my expectations.

I began asking her after each reading, “What characteristics of God did you hear?” What I most wanted was not to provide her with heroes or moral lessons, but for her to see and know the Lord.

One Example

Today, we read about Daniel in the lion’s den. When asked what she heard, she said: “God is powerful. He’s more powerful than lions. He’s more powerful than kings.” I love how that one simple question often results in a hymn of praise to God.

We talked about how God is more powerful than those who try to be sneaky. We talked about how, though he doesn’t promise to protect us from all suffering, he is able. We discussed how we are to expect suffering—and how a wrong view of suffering can make us angry at God (or ourselves) for “not having enough faith.” I shared about the reality of those temptations when I suffered infertility. She shared about her own suffering after losing our pet.

And that’s just one chapter of the Bible. One conversation. One morning.

My daughter began her day with eyes on God and his character. She knows he is mighty. She knows she will suffer. She knows God cares about her suffering. What powerful truths at 10.

I began my day with eyes on God and his character. I know he is mighty. I know I will suffer. I know God cares about my suffering. What powerful truths at 49.

Reading the Bible together is one of the ways I set up my daughter to meet Jesus.

Parenting still offers daily challenges. But I find the weight of those challenges so much lighter when I have a right view of God—and of my responsibility in light of his ability. My responsibility is chaff on the scale; just a sliver of his ability knocks the scale to the ground. Same with my love for my daughter compared to God’s love for her.

Daily Bible reading with our children is not a magic bullet. While there’s no guaranteed formula for faithfulness, we are still called to follow God’s command to “Train up a child in the way he should go,” praying that “even when he is old he will not depart from it” (Prov. 22:6).

Parent as Matchmaker

Imagine you want to match up a friend with a great guy you know. What do you do? You set up ways for them to meet. You talk about him in conversation. And you pray for the Lord’s hand in that relationship. Your job is making the introduction and creating opportunities for their lives to intersect. The “great guy” is responsible for building the relationship.

Reading the Bible together is one of the ways I set up my daughter to meet Jesus. My words and my actions are how I talk about him in my daily life. And I pray for her. But God is ultimately responsible for building that relationship. And in that truth, there is rest amid all of parenting’s labor.

D. Griffin

Published by Intentional Faith

Devoted to a Faith that Thinks

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