Parenting is a big job.
I know, I know—that’s the understatement of the year, right?
It would be more accurate to say that parenting—at least the way God wants us to do it—is an impossible job. At least for fallen, sinful humans like my wife and me.
God’s calling to parents is a weighty one. It’s no less than teaching, training, mentoring, and discipling the next generation in all facets of life. We have spiritual lessons to teach, character to develop, and practical skills to pass on—all while modeling through our own example what the Christian life looks like on a daily basis.
My wife and I aren’t up to that task. No offense, but you’re not either.
As a dad, I have moments when I feel like I’ve handled a difficult situation particularly well. I have moments when I know I’ve blown it. And I have a lot of moments in between.
But the truth is, my wife and I are inadequate to be the perfect parents we might want to be. At one level or another, we fail every single day.
This realization leads me to three conclusions.
#1: We Need God’s Power in Our Lives
First, I know that we need God’s sanctifying power to be at work in our own lives to help us become more of the mother and father He wants us to be.
We need His wisdom in dealing with the heart issues of our children.
We need His patience when the kids are pushing our buttons and we need to respond in the right spirit instead of in anger.
We need His strength to persevere each and every day instead of giving up.
We need His vision to see what He wants to do in the lives of our children, and faith to believe that He’ll bring it to pass.
We need His love to seek our children’s good instead of our own comfort and convenience.
We need His help every single day if we’re to have any hope at all of fulfilling our calling as parents.
#2: We Need God’s Blessing and Mercy
The realization of our inadequacy as parents leads me to a second conclusion: my wife and I need God’s blessings, both on our parenting efforts, and on the lives of our children.
We need His mercy to cover over our failings.
We need His blessing to multiply our often inadequate efforts to teach and guide our children.
We need His active involvement at every level. Without it, we’re in trouble.
#3: We Need God to Be at Work in Our Children
Third, I’m aware of our need for God to work directly in our kids’ lives.
God calls parents to teach their children in His ways. By God’s design, we have enormous influence on our children and it’s our responsibility to use that influence in the right ways.
But despite that God-given responsibility and influence, we can never be the Holy Spirit to our children.
In other words, as a father, I’m one of the vehicles God uses to reach my children’s hearts (and my wife is another). But I’m not the only one. God can reach our children directly—without using my wife or me as a go-between—through the working of the Holy Spirit.
We want Him to do that. We need Him to do that. If He’s not reaching directly into the hearts and lives of our children, they’ll never grow into the godly adults that we hope and pray they become.
The Bottom Line
I think of Psalm 127:1a regularly when it comes to parenting: “Except the LORD build the house, they labor in vain that build it . . .”
If God isn’t involved in our parenting—sanctifying my wife and me, blessing our efforts, and working directly in the lives of our children through the Holy Spirit—all our work is in vain. We can’t raise godly kids on our own.
We need God every single day.
Because godly parenting without God isn’t just hard—it’s impossible.
Let’s ask Him to get involved.
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