God’s Grace and Parenting
Recently I was having a conversation with a mother about her adult grown children. I mentioned that all of her children seemed like they were really doing well and walking with the Lord. In response, the mom was very quick to attribute the well-being of her children not to anything she or her husband had done as parents but to the grace of God. “It’s all by God’s grace” she said. She wasn’t being modest. She sincerely meant it.
There is a lot of wisdom here. None of us as parents come close to being perfect. We all make lots of mistakes. But even if we were perfect, we would still be completely dependent on the grace of God to penetrate the hearts of our children and draw them to Himself.
As a parent, how do I tap into God’s grace and connect my children to Him? Historically, there have been three basic categories or offices used to help describe a biblical posture of parents to their children—the roles of prophet, priest, and king.
The chief role of the prophet is to teach people the will of God. As parents, we connect our children to the grace of God as we intentionally seek to teach and train our children concerning the truth of God and His word. Here is a reminder to take the opportunities that God gives us throughout the day, to equip and impart God’s truth.
Spending time as a family on a daily basis in the reading of God’s Word and prayer is an important goal. But perhaps an easier time to capitalize on imparting truth and wisdom is the dinner time meal. This is an opportunity I was recently convicted about while listening to a lecture by Dr. Joel Beeke. He described what was happening at my dinner table-- a verbal free for all, often aimless dinner-time conversation that bounced around from the events of the day to our favorite movies.
Dr. Beeke advised thinking more intentionally about topics that might be more consequential and edifying. Recently I have been using a dinner time devotional by Nancy Guthrie, One Year of Dinner Table Devotions and Discussion Starters, to spark more targeted and meaningful conversation--a step in the right direction. Cultivating better conversation around meals takes time. My hope is not only for wisdom to be imparted, but for more laughter and the resulting desire to linger at the table.
Second, we connect our children to God’s grace by being priests. Priests intercede before the Lord for their people. As a parent, I need to grow in presenting the needs of my children to the Father every day. I am reminded of the example of Job who would rise early and present offerings to the Lord on behalf of each of his children in case they had sinned against God. Similarly, we recognize our need and our children’s need for God’s divine grace, forgiveness, and provision by presenting them to God in prayer.
It is not unusual for children, especially in their teen years, to test the boundaries and rock the boat so to speak. As parents, we sometimes forget that our children have a sinful nature just like us. My temptation is to react directly and forcefully but if I am not careful, I can easily capsize the boat altogether. How much more appropriate would it be for us to take these issues to the Lord in prayer first as priests? Then we will be better equipped to speak to the situation with wisdom, love, and patience with the Lord’s help.
Third, we connect our children to the grace of God as a king or ruler in our homes. Where there is a father in the home, there is a unique role for him as he is the head of the household. The buck stops with dad. But with this said, mom and dad should be working together to protect their children and to maintain order and discipline.
This could be viewed as authoritarian in our democratic society but the family is not meant to be a democracy. Children can have a say but parents understand it is theirs to decide. When parents provide clear rules and expectations, when parents are involved in the lives of their children, children feel loved and secure.
A brief word to grandparents. In the same lecture previously mentioned, Dr. Beeke encouraged grandparents by saying that grand-parenting was the glorious opportunity to get right with their grandchildren the things they may have gotten wrong with their own children. Praise God for second chances!
Parenting is a humbling task and if it were all dependent on me, my own children would be in trouble. But thankfully, it isn’t all up to me. Thank you Lord for Your grace.