1 Kings 18:40 – And Elijah said to them, “Seize the prophets of Baal; let not one of them escape.” And they seized them. And Elijah brought them down to the brook Kishon and slaughtered them there. Some years after Elijah’s showdown on Mount Carmel against the 850 prophets of Baal, two of the disciples James and … Read more
Genesis 32:24 – And Jacob was left alone. And a man wrestled with him until the breaking of the day. Before yet encountering his brother, God again appeared to Jacob in a very significant way. While alone one night, a man who is called God came to Jacob and it seems likely this was Jesus. … Read more
Proverbs 17:6 [NLT] – Grandchildren are the crowning glory of the aged; parents are the pride of their children.
My wife Grace and I recently celebrated our 27th wedding anniversary. We are blessed with five kids all walking with Jesus and serving at the church we planted as a family ministry. Our youngest child is headed toward their 14th birthday and our oldest is 22 and on the brink of finishing her master’s degree and getting married.
Life is full and wonderful.
On walks holding hands, Grace and I have started discussing what life will be like when we are grandparents. We are now closer to holding our kids’ babies than holding our kids as babies. Grandparenting seems amazing. The grandparents we know cannot stop talking about what a fun season it is.
According to Proverbs, it is possible for a child to be as proud of their parents as grandparents are proud of their grandchildren. This does not happen automatically, or quickly. But, if we will pay attention to the seasons of life our children and grandchildren are in, we increase the odds of mutual joy and warmth.
Sadly, every family has seasons of struggle and strife. But sometimes, the struggle and strife is for a simple reason – the parent and child do not both agree on what season they are in and agree to move forward with changes so that their relationship is altered from the previous season. For example, when a kid is six years old, you might need to wake them up for school, but when they are 26 years old, they need to get themselves up for work. How we parent in one season is not bad, but it can be bad if we continue to parent in the new season of life according to the pattern of the previous season. When parents don’t accept this, they frustrate their kids. When kids don’t accept this, they frustrate their parents.
What does this look like ideally?
There is someone we respect highly and see as wise. They have a great relationship with their child and grandchildren. So, I asked their son how it was to work with and live a few doors down from his parents. With a smile, he said that he loved his parents, they were his favorite people, and that they were great at lifting burdens and giving wise counsel. The grandparents decided that their home was always open to the kids and grandkids, but they would not go to the home of their kids or grandkids unless invited. This allowed healthy boundaries and brought harmony. I then met with the grandfather/father to ask how they got to such a healthy adult parenting relationship. He said that when his son was a teen, he asked if there was anything he needed to apologize for or change as a father. The son told him that his dad was too tough on him. This was a kid who was very responsible and put a lot of pressure on themselves, and when dad added his pressure, it was crushing. In wisdom, the father apologized, asked forgiveness, and began a new season by parenting in a new way of grace. Had this not occurred, it is doubtful that this would be a holy, happy, and healthy family of multiple generations. As parents, we never get it right but, by God’s grace, we can make it right.
How’s your heart toward your parents?
Proverbs 3:11-12 [NIV] – My son, do not despise the LORD’s discipline and do not resent his rebuke, because the LORD disciplines those he loves, as a father the son he delights in.
Proverbs 29:17 [ESV] – Discipline your son, and he will give you rest; he will give delight to your heart.
Over the years, I have taken literally a hundred thousand photos and videos of life with our five kids. Once in a while, I pull them so that we can all remember the fun we’ve had and memories we’ve made.
One goal for every parent should be to enjoy life with their child, make memories, and have fun. This is how God parents us. Did you know that God delights in you? He does not just love you; He also likes you, likes being your Father, and likes doing life with you. This is because God is a grace-based parent who puts love and relationship at the starting line instead of the finish line for us.
Because God loves us and seeks our best, he continually delights in us to encourage us and grow our trust in His care for us. And, our Father occasionally corrects us. Importantly, God does not continually discipline you and occasionally delight in you. The opposite is fact – God continually delights in you and occasionally disciplines you.
We are to parent our kids the way that our Father parents us. Discipline is course correction to get back to having fun and making memories as sin and folly push us off course. The purpose of discipline is not to punish since Jesus already paid that price, but rather to associate sin and folly with grief and pain so that we learn to avoid it going forward. The ultimate goal of corrective discipline is not for us to control our child, but instead help them grow in practicing self-control. At some point, our kids grow up and get to decide if they want a relationship with God or us and start making their own life decisions. If we delight in them as God delights in us, the odds increase that they will invite us into their life seasons and decisions because we know we care and have their best interest at heart.
Growing up as a child, was your home mainly one of delight or discipline?
Proverbs 20:5 [NIV] – The purposes of a person’s heart are deep waters, but one who has insight draws them out.
Parents, along with other caregivers, commonly focus on behavior for the simple reason that it is visible. Under the behavior is the heart we cannot see guiding the decision-making process. When a parent focuses only on behavior, they miss the problem and misdiagnose the solution. There are, in fact, four kinds of kids:
1. Bad heart bad behavior. This is the kid who walks up to another kid, assaults them, and steals their toy for the simple reason that they are a tiny terrorist.
2. Bad heart good behavior. This is the kid who pretends to be obedient and compliant not because they love God, but because it benefits them and is therefore a form of manipulation to get what they want.
3. Good heart bad behavior. This is the kid who meant well but messed up. These kids get really discouraged when they are disciplined for something that was a mistake without malice, like spilling a drink they were trying to retain hold of.
4. Good heart good behavior. Only Mary and Joseph had this kind of kid continually, but it is possible for little people to be godly people some of the time. This includes the kid who, when they do wrong, is sensitive to the Holy Spirit and confesses their bad behavior, which reveals their good heart.
Which of these four best explains you as a kid?
At Trinity Trinity Church, we have been working through the book of Galatians. And to my surprise, there has been a consistent theme of parenting and family throughout! A frequent question I have been receiving is how do we raise kids with grace, in a way that won’t lead to rebellious or religious kids?
Have a question you’d like answered? Email it to [email protected] today.
There are basically two kinds of relationships Christians have. One is law-based. Someone has fears that compel them to control other people and circumstances through making demands. The other is grace-based. The two people trust the Holy Spirit to work in and through each of them, focus on their unity around Jesus Christ, and give grace in secondary matters where they disagree.
Let this mind be in you all, which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped. But He emptied Himself, taking upon Himself the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men. And being found in the form of a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to death, even death on a cross.
– Philippians 2:5-8 MEV.
One day my wife and I were sitting at a burger joint surrounded by our kids. The next table was jammed with little kids too, and a drink showed up for the two-year-old.The little guy picked it up and spilled the glass all over the table. What did his dad do? Barked at the kid and disciplined him.
One of our kids said, “Everybody makes mistakes. That kid didn’t do anything wrong. He’s just got little hands, and that was a big glass.”
As we discussed the scene with our kids, I asked, “What’s the difference between a sin and learning through trial and error?”
That scene inaugurated a saying at our house: “There’s a big difference between committing a sin and making a mistake.”
When as Christians we declare that Jesus is perfect, it seems to me that we acknowledge His sinlessness while giving lip service to His humanity. I want to be clear—Jesus never sinned. But I don’t think that means it was impossible for Jesus in His full humanity while on the earth to learn from trial and error. When Jesus was a little kid, did He ever spill a drop from a cup?
Jesus wasn’t sinful, yet He was entirely human, enjoying and coping with the fullness of human experience like the rest of us. Jesus never sinned, but I don’t think the Bible requires us to say He never learned through trial and error. When Luke 2:52 says “Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man” (NIV), it means He grew, learned, changed, progressed, hit His thumb with a hammer a few times on the job with His dad, and learned to write by messing up, messing up, and messing up until His motor skills caught up with His brain.
God deals with our sins, but God doesn’t discipline us for learning through our trial and error efforts. He is a Father who makes the most of mistakes to teach us.I believe that God invites you to stretch, grow, try, and even fail as you experiment with doing difficult things for His glory. Spend your energy avoiding sins and learning through trial and error.
Some children are very rebellious. How should one navigate disciplining them? You don’t want to be the “Bad Guy” but you also don’t want your child to run the house.
Watch as Grace and I share how to be patient godly parents, keeping in mind the goal is never to punish them, but to correct them.
And if you have a question you’d like answered, email it to [email protected] today!