Being a parent is one of the greatest blessings of my life. The joy that Kate and Keegan bring to me and Kathleen is indescribable. I can’t imagine life without them. However, parenting is equally one of the greatest challenges of my life. It requires patience, humility, and sacrifice. I am also convinced that it’s a method by which God conforms us into His image. In other words, parenting is not just about one person maturing (my child), it’s about two people maturing. And God brings both parent and child through that growth together. One author said this,
“Through parenting I’ve learned things about myself I never knew and have seen things in my heart that I never wanted to see. I’ve come face to face with sins I didn’t know were buried deep inside, sins like impatience, selfishness, irritability, and discontent. While uncomfortable and sometimes downright painful, the sanctifying work of parenthood has been necessary and good.” – Christina Fox
According to Proverbs 22:6, I have a non-negotiable responsibility as a parent: train my child! It’s a difficult task to be sure, but a necessary one. In order to do that to the glory of God, I have personally set five goals for my life as a parent every day. Not necessarily goals for them, but goals for me. Here they are…
GIVE THEM A GODLY EXAMPLE
This is where it begins. Not with instruction, but example. My instruction will go no further than my example. I heard someone say, “The good news is your example is a textbook for training your children. The bad news is your example is the textbook for training your children.” Have your rules, but if your life contradicts your teaching then forget having a positive influence!
PROVIDE CONSISTENT INTSTRUCTION
My job as a parent is to help my kids love God more than they love me and Kathleen. That’s hard! I want them to love me, but above their love for me is their love for God. That comes as I set the right example and provide consistent instruction. I believe consistency in all areas of my life spiritually is the key.
DAILY AFFIRM MY LOVE
I recently said to my 4 year old after a moment of discipline, “Kate, do you know that I love you even when you disappoint me?” She said, “You do?!” At that moment I felt like the ultimate parental failure. My daughter questioned my love. It was obvious I had not done my part to affirm my love regardless of what she does. Remember, it’s not about praising as much as it is loving. Praising is focused on what they do. Loving is focused on who they are. I want Kate and Keegan to know that I love them no matter what.
MAINTAIN PATIENCE WITH THEIR GROWTH
One of the greatest challenges to me as a parent is discerning immaturity and defiance – when is my daughter’s behavior reflective of a 4 year old and when is it simply rebellion? Regardless, I don’t want to jump to conclusions or react in an impatient manner that would provoke them to wrath. I want to be a father who is as longsuffering as my heavenly Father is toward me, and that requires patience in their growth. One of the overwhelming attributes of our Lord is that He always gives me an opportunity to change. I want that to be my goal as a parent.
COMMITMENT TO INTENSE PRAYER
Only God can make a child godly. All I can do as a parent is inform the mind and will. God is the one who transforms the heart. With that being understood then there is a great deal of parenting that is divine reliability. I will consistently instruct and correct, but it is God who molds our children into His image. My role? Pray. I am to do all I can do to train my child in the way he should go, but after I have done all I can do I must equally pray that God will do what only He can do. The greatest energy you can exert for you children is agonizing in prayer. Everyday, I want to pray that God will do in the heart of my child what I cannot.
My brother once said, “There are great people who are not great parents.” I desperately want to be a great parent to my children. To grow into that role I desire to fulfill these daily goals as a father: 1) A godly example, 2) consistent instruction, 3) affirm my love, 4) maintain patience with them, and 5) commit to lots of prayer.
Do you have any goals as a parent? What are they? Not goals for your children, but goals for YOU. I’d love to hear them.