I’m the father of three boys five years old and under. My youngest is eight months, and given his vocal performance during our eight-hour car ride yesterday, he’s either tuning up for an opera career or planning to be a tiny acoustical terrorist engaging in asymmetrical sonic warfare. Either way, my ears are still ringing.
As any parent knows, having children, especially young children, means that life is full of joys and laughs but rather light on sleep and silence.
Parenting is both one of the greatest privileges and most daunting tasks one can undertake in this life — and that goes for all parents, not just Christians. By God’s common grace, there are many good parents who aren’t Christians. But for Christian parents, who desire and strive to “raise up a child in the way they should go,” there are more challenges than just sleepless nights. In our increasingly secular society, Christian parents face a daily battle to prevent the filth of the world from streaming into their kids’ minds at every turn (this challenge is, of course, exacerbated by months like June).
So, whether you are worn down from the daily routines of discipline after reminding your child to obey “the first time” for the 15th time that day, struggling to find an educational setting that won’t brainwash your kids to hate their faith, family, and country, or just trying to keep your eyes open after getting up to care for your newborn every night for the past two weeks, here are four Bible verses that provide encouragement for weary Christian parents.
“And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.”
Here we have our marching orders, directly from our own Father: Teach your children the truths of the Christian faith. This isn’t an optional part of Christian parenting — this is the most critical aspect of the job. In a previous article, I explained that:
“God didn’t bring the people of Israel out from slavery in Egypt by the Exodus, the greatest act of deliverance in salvation history until the Cross, just to have a one-generation witness to His glory, power, and sovereign purposes. No, He makes this crystal clear: He wants an enduring, multi-generational witness, a people who live before Him in holiness and serve Him in perpetuity. He is, of course, worthy of our forever worship.”
This is the glorious God-honoring work you do as a Christian parent. Be encouraged, weary parent, you are doing nothing less than raising image-bearers of the Creator God of the universe and raising them to know and worship Him and His Son, our Savior, Jesus Christ, rightly.
It’s a high calling. But remember, God never calls you to a task that He won’t equip you to fulfill. That equipping will more likely than not come through many tears and much time on your knees in prayer, but it will indeed arrive if you depend on God for His help in this fight.
“Those who spare the rod hate their children, but those who love them are diligent to discipline them.”
This verse reminds parents that discipline is both a loving and necessary component of faithful Christian parenting. It can be so tempting to let discipline “slip” as a parent — I can hear the excuses I tell myself even now: “It’s been a long day,” or “It’s not that big of a deal.” But as Charles Spurgeon once remarked, “If we never have headaches through rebuking our children, we shall have plenty of heartaches when they grow up.”
If you truly love your children, you won’t “let them go” — you will obey God and provide appropriate, corrective discipline that points them to their need for the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”
Remember the tale of “The Tortoise and the Hare?” The moral of that story is that perseverance matters more than raw talent. It’s been said that the Christian life can be likened to a “long, slow obedience in the same direction.” The same holds true for parenting. So don’t grow “weary in doing good” by serving, loving, teaching, and raising your children. God will reward your efforts, either in this life or the next. He has promised that He will, and we can take that promise to the bank.
“I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.”
Speaking of rewards, here the Apostle John gives us a glimpse of the hope of Christian parenting: Hearing (or seeing) the fruit of your labors in the lives of your children. This is the goal — to see our children “walking in the truth.”
To be clear, salvation is a gift from God; even the best Christian parents can’t reach inside and change their children’s hearts, no matter how much we might long to so do. But studies show that parents, and especially fathers, who lead their families in the Christian faith regularly get to rejoice like the Apostle John. According to Baptist Press, one survey found that:
“If a child is the first person in a household to become a Christian, there is a 3.5 percent probability everyone else in the household will follow…If the mother is the first to become a Christian, there is a 17 percent probability everyone else in the household will follow. But if the father is first, there is a 93 percent probability everyone else in the household will follow.”
Take heart, tired parent. Reflect on these four verses. As you reflect, pray for patience, that essential Fruit of Spirit for parenting. And after you pray, when you can, maybe take a nap. It’s not just kids who need rest.
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