Parenting on purpose
Psalm 127:4 (ESV)
Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth.
I love being a parent. Mainly because I love my kids. They bring joy, excitement and a little of I don’t know what they’ll do next into my life.
Because I love them I want to do the very best I can to raise them right. And I know the best thing I can do for them is help them become fully devoted followers of Christ. So we pray this often — that they will love God more than anything and that they will know Him for the good and glorious God He is.
But the window of opportunity to do this is narrow. My with them is limited.
One day they will leave (it doesn’t matter how many times they tell your five-year-old tells you they’re going to live with you for the rest of their lives) because they will want to and really because as a natural part of life, they need to. And on that day so much will change.
There will be a day when you can no longer make your kids do something. You’ll ask them to do something and they’ll look at you like you’re crazy. They might say it in a much nicer way, but essentially they’re letting you know “I don’t have to do anything you tell me to do anymore. I am an adult and I get to make my own decisions”.
Our goal is to prepare them for that day — launch day. And that’s what it is. A day of propelling and sending them out. The Psalmist refers to parents as warriors and their kids as arrows being launched out into the world.
What will happen on launch day? Will they veer off course? Will they land two feet away? Will they crash and burn? Or will they soar gracefully hitting some ups and down until they get to their final destination?
Nobody but God knows.
Because I know the weight of this responsibility I want to share some key principles the Bible teaches about parenting that will give your kids the best chance of being sent out well.
There are a few key principles on parenting found in the story of the prodigal son in Luke 15. If you’ve never read the story I recommend you click here and read it.
Parenting the prodigal
1. Failure is inevitable
I believe that the prodigal son’s father was a good father. I believe he tried to parent to the best of his ability. Yet his son still rebelled.
You and I might do everything we know is right and our kids still might veer off. Don’t beat yourself up — trust me it won’t solve anything. If you can do something now but in the end, they will have to make their own decisions.
So be ready for when they fail. Hopefully, it’s not a major fail and they learn from it.
2. Let your kids fail
The prodigal son in a second of uncontrolled passion made some very bad and selfish decisions. I’m sure this is not to hard to relate for many parents.
The son gets what he wants but as often happens his decisions had some very bad consequences. Now at this crucial point in the son’s life, the father does something very important—nothing.
The father doesn’t do anything. He doesn’t go and rescue the son. He lets his son suffer the results of his own decisions. He let him fail.
Failure is often the best teacher. If you always rescue them they will never learn that there are real consequences to their actions—good and bad. And hopefully become better for it.
3. Be patient
I hate waiting. I don’t have the gift of patience. It’s one of the fruits of the spirit I have to beg for every day. And I’m not the only one.
When your child goes prodigal you will have to be patient. They might not come around the very moment, week, month, or even years. The text tells us that it wasn’t until the son had spent all his money and found himself in an unfortunate predicament that he actually came to his senses.
But the father patiently waits through all of it and you will too.
4. Love them unconditionally
The son failed and the father let him. The son left and the father waited patiently. But eventually, the son came to his sense and came back home.
And when he did, the father received him with open arms.
Our kids will make mistakes and as I already mentioned, we don’t need to rescue them but when they have learned and come back we should be the first to extend grace and mercy because we have received infinite grace and mercy father our heavenly father.
Parenting is not easy
Parenting is not easy. But there is no greater task. It’s one God has given to us and it’s one He displays for us. He is the original Parent who after we failed waited patiently and is still waiting (2 Peter 3:9) with arms wide open.
So He knows what you’re going through and is right by your side. Stay focused on your task—sending them out as adults that love God with all their heart, soul, mind and strength.