PARENT LIKE GOD DESIGNED
Parenting–that word brings many emotions. Here are some funny quotes on parenting. Being a parent is like folding a fitted sheet–no one really knows how. A two-year-old is kind of like having a blender, but you don’t have a top for it. When my kids become wild and unruly, I use a nice, safe playpen–when they’re finished, I climb out. Adolescence is a period of rapid changes–between the ages of 12 and 17, for example, a parent ages as much as twenty years. Welcome to being a parent of a teenager–prepare for large amounts of eye rolling, emotional outburst and thoughts of running away–and that’s just the parents.
When I say the word parenting, what do you think of? Some of you are thinking–
• Boy am I glad I am done with that phase of life
• I am in it…please send help
• I miss it
• I can’t wait for it
• I love it and want more kids
• I wish I did things differently
Some might be here today thinking, “This is great for them, but it doesn’t apply to me. This message is critical for everyone to understand! As individuals—children, are living this. These commands are directly to them. Teenagers, this still applies to you. Collegians and singles—this is a target for the type of parent you want to be and you should be looking to marry someone who holds these biblical values. Young families and families of teens—obviously this applies to you.
And let me share my pet peeve—when I hear the comment that you guys are in the trenches, like being a parent is two trenches and you are dug in peering over at one another in a battle, the war is raging. Remind yourselves that you wanted these kids–this is a privilege.
How many in here are grandparents? I saw a sign that said, “Do you want to know why my child is bad? Because I cannot spank Grandma”. Some of you here were wonderful parents–don’t grandparent different than you parented! Some of you have regrets–be the best grandparents you can be to your grandkids.
And as a church–our children’s ministry exists to support you parents in biblical parenting. Our youth ministry is here to come alongside you as parents. College and Doulos exist to prepare young people to love Christ, have great marriages and raise a generation of godly kids. CGs are here to help people become more like Christ and work on strong, healthy marriages and raise a generation of godly kids.
Rooted, Moms by Grace, Moms at the Park come alongside families and point them to Scripture and mentor parents. Focus and Saturated, I love those ministries–these are our senior saints. You all need to be connected to young people and shepherding them. We need Rooted and Young Marrieds to meet with you all–mentoring them, helping them, taking your experience and passing it on. Psalm 145:4, “One generation shall commend your works to another, and shall declare your mighty acts.”
This is what we need to be about as individuals and as a church–taking the precious truth of the Gospel, living it, and making sure that we are telling it to the next generation. Parenting matters to all of us. Last week Shawn did an amazing job walking us through Deuteronomy 6. I hope this week you have all been challenged to parent like a boss. This week we are going to be challenged to Parent Like God Designs. His title was much more hip—mine is more soberminded . . . and godly. Ephesians 6 is one of the clearest and most concise passages on parenting in Scripture.
Let’s read Ephesians 6:1 to 4, “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. 2Honor your father and mother (which is the first commandment with a promise), 3so that it may be well with you, and that you may live long on the earth. 4Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.”
First Imperative Family Command—OBEDIENCE
Look at verse 1–“Children obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.” This right here is the first verse we learn as parents and teach to our kids–what a verse. My kids might not listen to me, but they will listen to God. The word for children here is tekna (children)–it does not refer particularly to young children, but all offspring, sons and daughters still under their parents’ roof or authority. It ties in to verse 4—so as long as children are under your discipline and instruction, this verse applies to them.
Hupakouo is the word for obey–it literally means to hear under, to listen with attentiveness and respond positively to what is heard. Children are to put themselves under the words and authority of their parents. The idea is to obey by listening to an authority. It is their fundamental role as a child. The Greek word for obey means to obey on an ongoing basis and it is a command–not an option.
“In the Lord” refers to the sphere of pleasing the Lord, to obeying parents for the Lord’s sake. Children obey their parents as reflective of their obedience to the Lord. The context makes it clear that “in the Lord” applies to honor as well as to obey. Parents are to be obeyed and honored, because to do so is to obey and honor the Lord.
Children, you are to obey your parents because it honors Christ and He wants you to pick up your toys, finish your dinner, come to Dad, not hit your sister. And teenagers, Christ is commanding you to obey your parents in whatever it is they ask of you–do your chores, finish your homework, unload the dishwasher, delete that app, be home at 10, when all your friends can stay until midnight. Teens, whatever it is that your parents say–unless it is in direct violation of Scripture, you are to obey.
Notice, it doesn’t matter why. Children tend to obey as long as they agree. They ask, “Why?” If it makes sense to them, they will submit. When God told Abraham to go offer up Isaac as a sacrifice, the promised heir of the covenant, Abraham never asked God, “Why?” Nor did Isaac ask his father, “Why?” Then we read about Mary in Luke 1:38, “And Mary said, ‘Behold, the bondslave of the Lord; may it be done to me according to your Word.’ ” That means our goal is that our children obey with a heart that is under submission.
We must work hard to teach our children first time obedience. First time obedience develops the virtue of self-control. Self-control means doing the right thing, whether you feel like it or not. Self-control is so important, because whatever it is we ask them to do, they cannot do it unless they have the ability to turn off what they want to do and do what we asked them. It does not come naturally to children–it must be developed. Like any talent, skill or quality, it is developed through practice and repetition. The more you practice, the better you get. Every time your children have to obey the first time when they don’t want to, it develops their self-control.
When we were first parenting, we heard a quote from Fred Barshaw, ”Train your child in the habit of doing good.” When they are young, that means, “Look at my eyes . . . you need to go pick up your toys.” “Yes, Dad.” “Look at my eyes–time to put your coloring book away.” “Yes, Dad.” There will be probably tens of thousands of interactions just like the ones above when they are young. They are learning to focus their attention on you to receive what is being said, listen attentively, and acknowledge they will do it.
Every ounce of them might not want to do this–but they learn the practice of self-control, to say no to their own desires and obey. Too often they don’t say no to themselves and you have an opportunity through discipline to correct that behavior. Through these countless exchanges, self-control is growing in their hearts. They are learning obedience.
You can train your kids. When our youngest, Stephanie, was still in the high chair, my wife Tracy saw her stand up and told her, “Stephanie, sit down”—and she stood there and looked at her. So Tracy called, “Robert,” and pointed to Stephanie. I told her, “Stephanie, sit down” in a firm voice. She continued to stand there, now looking at me. I started walking toward her, and repeating my command. She started to sit down, so I stopped—and she stopped mid- response. At this I continued to approach her, and she continued also—but never fully complying, as long as I didn’t completely engage her.
What I learned that day was how brilliant children are—even at less than two years old. They know just how much or little they need to obey to comply with a command. Are we asking for and expecting complete obedience? We must work so hard at this when our kids are young–because you don’t want a teenager without self-control.
I love how this verse ends—”Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is [what?] right.” It is right, proper, exactly as it should be–because God declares it so and this is the family structure that He has chosen. I think sometimes parents prioritize this when they have young kids and they start thinking that as they get older, on their own, they don’t need to submit.
But life is about submission–to each other (Ephesians 5:21), to authority–work, government, etc., in marriage–Ephesians 5, to the Lord. Our hope, in these 18 or so short years that we have with this child, is that we teach them to submit to us, so that one day they submit to Jesus Christ and His Word–right? We see that children are commanded to obey parents–what does this mean to us as parents?
Do you realize that we stand as God’s proxy to our kids? If children are to obey us because Christ wants them to, that means as we command our kids—are we doing it as Christ would? Are we honoring the Lord in how we parent? While our kids are under our authority, we need to train them to obey the first time. When they are young . . . “If you do this, I will give you a candy” or, raising your voice, or using their middle name–counting to three? My mom counted to 2-7/8ths, and I knew she wasn’t serious until she got there. As they throw a fit, then, “Okay–what do you want?”
We also need to make it as easy as possible for them to obey. What do I mean by that? Your 5-year-old has been creating and building with Legos all evening, and now it’s bedtime. Instead of giving the command that it’s time to clean up and go to bed—and he wants to put four more bricks on his masterpiece. Maybe give him a 5-minute warning so he can finish.
Your teen asks if he can go out with friends on Friday night, and he has been out a lot lately so you say it’s okay if he’s home by 10—instead of asking, “What are you guys doing, what time will it go until?” Then determine a reasonable curfew. We need to guard our words–once we utter a command, our kids need to obey.
I was talking with a young father on the patio after church years ago, and he called to his daughter who was with a friend. After he did that he realized she was just running over to get a mint on the welcome table and could have just let her go. He asked, “What should I do?” I told him—“You called her, follow through. Just give her a kiss and tell her you love her. You’re teaching first time obedience.” I have heard of parents, after commanding their little ones, not making them obey and saying, “I shouldn’t have said that.” You’re right–but you did.
We cannot possibly cover every possible scenario you will have as parents in a message like this. Come tonight and next week–we get really practical. And find a mentor couple that can help you. Have people watch how you parent to show you blind spots you might have. Parents–it takes a lot of wisdom as we raise our kids, doesn’t it? What do you do if you have been doing this wrong for many years? Can you now put a stranglehold on them? I would encourage you to sit your kids down and admit that you have been doing it wrong, apologize and talk to them about the importance of them submitting to Scripture.
When Tracy and I were in Albania, we were teaching on parenting from Ephesians 6 and met a couple named Sazan and Elona Killo, who will be teaching at the Parenting Conference in Albania in October. These parents (most were women) had never heard anything on parenting, not even a sermon—nothing. There are no parenting books for them to read. In Albania, you basically don’t let them cry when they are young. You give them whatever they need or want so they don’t cry—you hold them, feed them, whatever it is. Then as they get older, you smack them if you don’t like what they are doing. There is very little training, if any.
So this sweet couple, Sazan and Elona–after the message, they went home and sat their 2-year-old daughter and 10-year-old son down and said, “We are sorry. We have been doing it all wrong. We just learned in the Bible that we need to teach you to obey and we haven’t. Things are going to be different going forward.” Elona told us that she started using, “Yes, Mom (Po, Mom)” and her 10-year-old at first looked at her like, “You are crazy. What is this?” After two days of doing this, things were already changing in her children.
Teaching our kids obedience is always important, as this is God’s standard for parenting. But there is such a strong push against this in our culture today. Culture today is all about me–I can do whatever I want, live however I want. Be whatever gender I want. My truth is what matters. Anything that supports my truth is good, and if not–it is bad if you tell me I am wrong. You are a fascist.
Look at the anger in our world today, when you speak out against . . .
• Abortion–no consequences for my actions
• Transgenderism–we are giving in to and encouraging their feelings
• Defunding the police–I don’t want authority stopping me
• No aspect of submission being taught at all
Instead of being terrified by what we see in the world, allow it to motivate you to see what happens when children are free to become “their authentic self”. When a child is free to behave how ever they want, look where they end up. We need to consistently expect obedience from our children and develop a heart of submission to authority–it is critical.
First Imperative Family Command—Obedience
Second Imperative Family Command—Honor
Read Ephesians 6:2 to 3, “Honor your father and mother (which is the first commandment with a promise), 3so that it may be well with you, and that you may live long on the earth.” The right attitude behind the right act of obedience is honor (timao), which means to value highly, to hold in the highest regard and respect. Honor is the worth one ascribes to a person. Tied back to the Ten Commandments—this is the only commandment that deals with the family. This one principle is enough to define a godly family.
If children (including our youth) honor their parents, esteeming them as valuable, worthy–they will obey, respect, show humility. The home will function properly. Can you imagine that? There would be no stress at all in the home. For you parents of youth kids–isn’t this the biggest issue in your home? Just dealing with attitude.
It was so critically important, that God commanded in the Old Testament–Exodus 21:15, “He who strikes his father or mother shall surely be put to death.” Leviticus 20:9, “He who curses his father or mother shall surely be [what?] put to death.” Physical or verbal abuse would get the death penalty.
Imagine if our youth were meeting and in walked Justin Bieber–all the kids’ faces would instantly respond with recognition. And if he asked, ”Hey, can someone get me some water?” The kids, “Sure, Justin–anything else I can get you?” What is so sad is I thought I would ask, if Joe Biden walked in—but I’m not sure if we parents would honor him. Yet we should because of his office as President. But if John MacArthur did—now that is honor.
Students, you should be treating your parents the same–whoa. Instead, are you being disrespectful, rolling your eyes, giving attitude, getting angry? But the result of obedience is—”that it may be well with you, and that you may live long on the earth.” “That it may be well with you” relates to the quality of life. “And that you may live long on the earth” relates to the quantity of life promised. The original promise was to the Israelites–but Paul’s reference to it means that it extends to believers today.
When we were serving in jr high ministry, I never had one jr higher say, “I hope to get divorced–maybe three or four times.” Or, “Drug addiction looks like an attractive lifestyle.” Or, “I would love to hold one of those cardboard signs, or be a gamer and play video games all day” (maybe some would want that). The point is, they all want a good life, right? And you want that too. Obey and honor your parents. Why is this true? We all know this.
A child that learns obedience and honor–what kind of husband will that young boy be? Self-sacrificing and others-minded. What kind of wife will that young girl be? Submissive. What kind of employee? They do what they are told—the company comes first. What kind of servant in the church? The Bible promises it will be well with you and you will live long. This doesn’t refer to a specific length of time, like a proverb—it is not always guaranteed, but generally true.
Like the story Ted Tripp tells, when he was disobeying, and his brother Paul saying to him, “You don’t want to live long, do you?” If you are obedient and honor parents, you will make good decisions, you won’t do stupid things. Odds are you will live longer, right? I was thinking this week about how all kids imagine their life being good–and that is exactly what we want for them as parents, right? We are on the same team.
Your parents wanted you, prayed for you, cried the day you were born–sacrificed sleep, changed your diapers, fed you. You would have died if not for them. We have clothed you, signed you up for sports teams, dance class, taken you to countless events, stayed up when you were sick–fed you teenage boys in high school. Your parents want you to obey and honor them cause it is so important for you to learn. We want you to have a great marriage, and wonderful career–to love Christ. Obeying and honoring your mom and dad sets you up for success. If you don’t learn this at home growing up, you have a rough road ahead for you in life. You have your kids for 18 years or so–it is just a stewardship, a brief time of their life.
Isn’t if funny how life works–if you asked me about my family, I would tell you about Tracy, my kids, my grandkids. I don’t tell you about my parents. It is all down, right? If you asked Jessy, my oldest and her husband, about their family–they would talk of their
kids. The bulk of the life of our kids will be with their own family. Parent with their future in mind–not our convenience now. The time is short.
I remember being in the teenage years with our kids and saying to them, “We only have a few years left with you! We need you to understand this.” Share often with your kids—this is for your best! Teenagers think we just want to control them. Scripture is clear–it will be well with you when you obey and honor.
Third Imperative Family Command–DO NOT PROVOKE
Look at verse 4, “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” “Fathers” refers to the biological male–different from “parents” in verse 1 and “father and mother” in verse 2. He means fathers, it is your responsibility–but that doesn’t mean that moms can provoke. This is a universal command, but specific here to fathers.
“Provoke” is to cause someone to become provoked or quite angry, to cause to be provoked, to make angry. This is exasperating your children. Expect obedience, but be careful in wielding an unbiblical authority that exasperates. It is difficult to discern sometimes between willful disobedience and provoking. How can you tell the difference? Carrie Clanton in our CG said it this way, “Disobedience is their sin, provoking is my sin.”
Provoking creates resentment and an abiding desire for retaliation or vengeance against the parent which, unfortunately, often carries over into the child’s attitude toward other authority figures, and even to God. Sometimes I deal with parents who come to me and say, “My child doesn’t listen, is angry, etc.” You know what I have found? Often that child is frustrated by his/her parents and I would be too!
We had a dad show up to pick up his son from youth. And when his son asked if he could do something with his friends, the response from his father was a tirade about how he had disobeyed earlier in the week. He belittled his son in front of other youth and leaders. This was a clear example of a dad at provoking or exasperating his kid. This could easily have been handled in privacy—in the car on the way, or at home.
There are other ways we provoke . . .
• Inconsistency in applying rules, etc.
• Discouragement–parents being negative about their kids
• Harsh tones
• Not admitting when wrong
Provoking is different for all of us—and different for each child. Parents–we need to study and know what triggers each kid. Prayerfully evaluate if we are contributing to their outbursts by provoking them. This is a command to us, fathers, to lead in our home to evaluate if we as parents are provoking our kids. It is sin, if we are doing this. Fathers, be careful not to provoke.
Fourth Imperative Family Command—BRING THEM UP
Bring up is to raise, to rear, to bring up, to nurture, to raise to maturity. The same word is used in Ephesians 5:29 of a husband’s responsibility to nurture his wife. “No one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it.” That word “nourishes” is the same word as bring up in Ephesians 6:4.
So the focus is on the fact that, in all that a father does to bring his children to maturity, there should be a provision and a care that assures the child that, behind all the discipline and instruction, there is a great heart of love–a tender affection towards them. Remember, we are trying to take them from dangerous disobedience (it won’t be well with you and you won’t live long) to joyful obedience, in two distinct ways.
The Greek word is padeia, which means to discipline or to train. It is the systematic training of children. It includes commands, admonitions, reproof, and punishment. The tools include rules, guidelines, restrictions, rewards, correction and structure. Correction is just one tool of many. This word signifies actions parents take to give their children the abilities and skills and character to live life to the glory of God.
We are showing them how to do the things that a Christ-exalting life requires and holding them accountable to do them as well as they can. When young, it involves . . .
• Discipline when it is willful disobedience
• Putting them in the crib until happy
• Taking away toys or privileges
As they get older . . .
• Teaching them the principle of sowing and reaping
• Don’t randomly threaten discipline—”You are grounded for a year!”
• Make it relatable to the offense
• The goal is heart change
Remember that discipline and instruction are distinct and different. If we have done our job with instruction and our kids disobey, they know what they did, right? When your 5-year-old hits his sister, you send him to his room. You go in there and ask, “What did you do?” “I don’t know?” Really? “I hit my sister.” When your teenager lies–tells you they are somewhere and they are really somewhere else and get caught–do you think they don’t know what they did was wrong? They know. If they really don’t know, we cannot discipline them–we need to further instruct.
Discipline should be swift. Establish the biblical violation–often they should be able to tell you. Make sure they understand. Administer the appropriate discipline. Don’t over lecture when your kids disobey. I have seen parents spend two hours in a bathroom with their 5-year-old when they disobey. You are trying to get heart change.
You tell them to say sorry to their sister for hitting her, when there isn’t a sorry bone in their body. “Will you please forgive me?” Give each other a hug. You are teaching them repentance. How well does a 2-hour lecture with your teenager go? Why do we do this? They know they were wrong. It is pride–they don’t want to admit it. We expect them to respond with, “You are so wise, Mom and Dad–thanks for pointing this out to me. Please forgive me. I was so wrong.”
Let me ask you this–last time you were in an argument with your spouse, did you admit you were wrong? Sometimes it takes time. Come back and talk about it when tensions aren’t as high. This is as they are older. Once they profess Christ, have them go pray about it—then come out as soon as they are ready and have prayed about it.
Your children will fail often–you have the opportunity to teach them repentance. Biblical repentance is the pathway to your child’s salvation. Every time they fail is an opportunity to teach them repentance–to say I am sorry, to ask forgiveness, to right a wrong. All of this prepares that little heart to repent to their Father in Heaven one day when they recognize how egregious their sin is to Him.
An adult who does not know how to repent in life must overcome that handicap when hearing the Gospel. Alternately, a child who knows true repentance can respond to the Gospel message. They can recognize their sin and acknowledge fault, make right the wrong. Correction is not only for the purpose of shaping a child’s behavior–it is also a means by which a parent points a child to his need for Christ.
When a child fails to live up to the standard which he is taught, it is an opportunity to explain his need for a Savior. Every sin is an opportunity for the Gospel–don’t get discouraged. Failure is useful. One of the greatest things that can happen is your child understanding the standard–and after failing again saying, “I just can’t do it.” “You’re right–that’s why you need Christ.”
This means to teach or instruct. Instruction is a compound word (nouthesia) which literally means to put or bring to mind. It is more than just teaching. A really good word is admonish–it carries a tender desire to warn. I read in one commentary that said, “to counsel about avoidance or cessation of an improper course of conduct.” Admonition means cautionary advice about something–especially danger or other unpleasantness.
We see this word in 1 Thessalonians 5:14, where Paul says, “We urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all.” What the idle need is something a little different than the fainthearted. That is called admonish–a corrective warning about the fruitlessness of this kind of laziness. Another great verse is 1 Corinthians 4:14, “I do not write these things to make you ashamed, but to admonish you as my beloved children.”
There is warmth to the correcting, warning and guiding that parents are called to do. A tremendous example of this is Solomon with his son in Proverbs 7. Solomon waited until the appropriate age to expose his son to temptations he might face in the future and explain the dangers of giving in to that temptation.
“My son, keep my words and treasure my commandments within you. 2Keep my commandments and live, and my teaching as the apple of your eye. 3Bind them on your fingers; write them on the tablet of your heart. 4Say to wisdom, ‘You are my sister,’ and call understanding your intimate friend; 5that they may keep you from an adulteress, from the foreigner who flatters with her words. 6For at the window of my house I looked out through my lattice, 7and I saw among the naïve and discerned among the youths a young man lacking sense.”
Solomon shows his son how this young man gave in to the adulteress. “24Now therefore, my sons, listen to me, and pay attention to the words of my mouth. 25Do not let your heart turn aside to her ways, do not stray into her paths. 26For many are the victims she has cast down, and numerous are all her slain. 27Her house is the way to Sheol, descending to the chambers of death.”
Well-meaning Christian parents have a desire to protect their kids from the sinfulness of the world around them—to shield them from exposure. If I create an environment that they won’t know about all the sin in the world, they won’t be tempted by that sin–but we must be careful not to raise naïve kids.
We work really hard not to raise the fools of Proverbs–but the naïve is just as bad. John MacArthur says, ”Parents cannot – and should not – try to isolate their children totally from the truth about sin and the subtleties of temptation. We should not cultivate the kind of innocence in our children that leaves them exposed and vulnerable to temptations they never even imagined existed. Our task is to teach them discernment, not raise them to be prudes.”
I hate to break it to you–your kids are sinners. Their sin doesn’t come from external forces—it comes from where? Their heart. Proverbs 1:22 says, “How long, O naïve ones, will you love being simple-minded?” Then verse 32, “The waywardness of the naïve will kill them.” And Proverbs 22:3, “The prudent sees the evil and hides himself, but the naïve go on and are punished for it.”
There are two aspects to this instruction–formal and informal. This instruction is what Shawn focused on last week. All throughout the day–talking to your kids all about life through a biblical lens. Making Scripture a guide for them. Showing how our rules are there for a reason. This is informal instruction that happens naturally. If you love Christ, you will tell your kids all about Him–teaching them the truths of Scripture. Telling them how the Lord has worked in your life.
Can I encourage you on the formal aspect? We might call this family worship. Tracy and I were so fortunate to have this modeled to us by Scott and Patty Ardavanis. Have family worship regularly–every night when they are young. Act out what you are reading. Make it a blast. It is really important to make this fun. You go from playing, wrestling, to boring Bible time? This should be the highlight of the night for your kids.
Sing together–I love listening to Colbie now walk around singing How Great Thou Art. Pray together, laying down in a circle. Not only did our kids learn–but it created an environment where spiritual conversation is normal. I remember I would take one of my kids to the store or whatever one on one–and I’d simply ask, “How are you doing?” They would know and answer how they were doing spiritually.
Our Goal is to use discipline and instruction in tandem, in a caring and loving way, to “bring them up” to become the young men and women that God can use in a mighty way.
I love how the last little phrase is we are to “bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” This modifies where that discipline and instruction should be focused. It is all about Christ. Fathers, you understand the goal of our whole life with our children will be of the Lord, for the Lord, and through the Lord. The most important thing in raising children is that they come to see Christ, the Lord, as supremely valuable as Savior and Lord.
Listen–these are crystal clear commands on parenting found in Scripture. But, the application of it practically to everyday situations is sometimes really hard. Parents want a book that says, when your child does this you do this. There are a myriad of different scenarios for each of you as parents–now your job is to figure out how to take these principles and practically apply them to your parenting each and every day.
What you are facing every day is no different than all of us have faced in the past. You can do this–we as individuals and as a church are here for you. And now in application I am really just sharing my heart with you on things I want you to know.
1. Young couples and families–don’t be discouraged by the world around you. Have kids–this is the perfect time for your kids to be born, because this is exactly when God had them born. As the Bible recorded about Esther, that she was born for such a time as this. I look at my two granddaughters who are 4 and 3–they just love life.
2. Seek input–don’t just receive it, seek it. There are so many mentors at this church–moms and dads that have gone before you. You can learn from what we are glad we did and what we wish we did differently. Find couples with kids ahead of you. Ask questions. Watch them. Be prepared for coming stages. Ask your children’s ministry workers how your kids are doing. Ask your youth staff people how your kids are doing.
3. Get on the same page with your spouse as parents. Husbands, leading doesn’t mean you make all the parenting decisions. Leading means you engage with your wife so that you are both likeminded–taking the initiative to get to this point. Too often, moms are frustrated with their husbands cause they are not clued in on things. Your wife thinks about the kids and deals with the kids far more than you. Talk with her, get on the same page together and then work hard to parent on the same page. Dads, too often we come home from work and unravel all our wives worked on all day.
4. Enjoy it–it goes so fast. Every season is work–every season has its challenges. But every season brings so much joy. I loved having young kids. I loved how they grew through elementary school and into middle and high school. We just sent our youngest to her final high school camp—it feels so weird that we are done. I love how they started figuring life out for themselves in college. I have loved seeing three of my kids get married and now start their own families (two more to go). I love being a grandpa—it’s the best thing ever.
Psalm 127:3 to 5 says, “Behold, children are a gift of the Lord, the fruit of the womb is a reward. 4Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, so are the children of one’s youth. 5How blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them.” It is a precious stewardship we have with our children–before you know it, they are out of your house. But that is how God intended it. They are like arrows we are shooting out into life. Enjoy every moment of it.