Saturday, August 2, 2014

Thoughts On Equipping Our Christian Children

As I sat listening to a mom lament her failures I could not keep quiet!

In those moments when we are drowning in self-condemnation we need others who will pull us out of the quicksand of lies, guilt and regret. It's not always easy for me to do that, especially when I'm dealing with regret myself. However, it is usually in those moments that I end up preaching the gospel to myself because I need to hear it again.

First, I reassured her. She is an amazing mom. Not because she is perfect, but because she loves her kids. Friends, that is enough. Your kids don't need to see perfection. They need to see weakness and dependence on Another. I've said it before but it bears repeating:

Our kids don't need to see us staying strong in the midst of chaos. They need to see us falling apart into the arms of the Strong One who redeems the chaos of our lives.

Second, I corrected her. She has not failed her kids. It is funny how we know we don't have the power to save our kids, but somehow we think we have the power to ruin them! It's just not true. 

How To Be A Good Christian (stay away from these!)
Third, I encouraged her to not be so hard on herself. We can mentally destroy ourselves when we are wrapped up in comparisons or we cave under the expectations of others, the church included. One of the things that prompted her anxious thoughts about child rearing was an article she read on equipping our youth so they don't leave the church when they go off to college. ugh. I hate those articles. Can we all just agree to stop reading the myriad of books and blogs (like this wikihow post How To Be A Good Christian Child) that tell us how to keep our Christian kids Christian after they leave home? 

What this mom needed was a fresh reminder of the gospel, not another list of child rearing tips.

Spitting Out Church Deacons

I pointed out that:

"Defining the Christian walk by church involvement is a narrow interpretation of what it means to be a Christian. The author of that article asked, “How can I spend four years with this kid, helping him become the best church deacon and sixth-grade Sunday school class teacher he can be, ten years down the road?”
We don't need to spit out church deacons and Sunday school teachers - we need to make room for the gospel to do its saving work.
If we define what a "success" is by the fact that a young person is a deacon or leader in the church, that leaves out millions upon millions of Christians who are faithfully serving in their homes, at their workplaces, in the armed forces, in hospitals, in education...etc. So, a better question is, how have we communicated the gospel in a way that impacts their hearts? How do we assure them that no matter what they do God loves them so much he died for them in the midst of their sin. Because truly, the only thing that changes hearts and lives is love - one way love. My son had the benefit of equipping. He knew how to lead a study, how to read his Bible. At 24, he is not a leader in the church. He lives on his own, fully supporting himself. He works hard and so many hours that it is difficult for him to make it to church let alone serve there. Is he a Christian? Or does the church view him as a failure because he is not a deacon or Sunday school teacher?
The author is right when he says there is no formula. I think we take our cues from Jesus. Love unconditionally - on that we don't shilly shally (in the words of Steve Brown)."

Fruit Inspecting vs. Gospel Preaching

Parents, we really can stop wringing our hands over our kids. Do we want them to know Jesus? Yes. More importantly however, is that he knows them. That he is holding on to them despite what "fruit" they bear, what their "walk" looks like, how "trained up" they've been, or "how vibrant their relationship with the Lord is."

Don't shilly shally with them. Tell them the truth that God loves them and will never forsake them. It is finished...for our kids too.

They can be done with trying to measure up and we can be done with trying to measure them. 


Now, that's good news!

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