All of Parenting is a Gracious Rescue (and we are not the savior of our children)

Paul Tripp’s video, Mirror of Sin & Means of Grace: Parents are Works in Progress Too  hit me right in the heart. I may have cried, then wrote letters of apology to my adult children. Do yourself a huge favor and watch it. Then come back and talk to me. Cause I’m feeling a little overwhelmed.

Parenting is a glorious mystery: it is a gift, a privilege and an enormous responsibility. We know this, yet we still don’t parent with the weightiness that our job entails. We so often abuse our authority and position, hurting our children in the process.

And there’s one reason: selfishness. We parent too much out of selfishness. We want the strife to just stop, we want the noise to be less, we want them to go to bed so we can enjoy some quiet time–we deserve it, you know, we want them to do what we tell them because then our lives are easier. But that has nothing to do with why we were given children!

Such temporary things in light of our job to bring these eternal souls into fellowship with God!

Tripp explains that we are ambassadors–representatives who have been given children to point to Christ at every opportunity. Let this sink in:

“If your eyes ever see, and your ears ever hear the sin, weakness and failure of your children, it’s never an accident, it’s never a hassle, it’s never an interruption, it’s always grace. God loves those children, He’s put them in a family of faith, and He will reveal the need of those children to you, so you can be a tool of His rescue and restoration.” -Paul David Tripp

We are just tools in the hands of God, in the lives of these children given to us for a short time. Barking orders or threats so our children will get into shape does nothing to restore them to a right relationship with their Creator. It just makes them “smarter sinners.” We are not in the business of behavior modification; we are in the business of making disciples. Nor can we do anything to change them. We can only take them to the One who changes everything.

We can get desperate, wanting to save our children from mistakes, from failure, from sin. But we aren’t their savior; we can only lead them to the Savior and entrust them to His care.

No matter where you are in your parenting journey, it’s never too late to repent of past failures, ask your children for forgiveness, then go to the Father who delights to give to His own children. Ask Him for grace and power to carry out this incredible job of gracious rescuing.

2 Responses to “All of Parenting is a Gracious Rescue (and we are not the savior of our children)”

  1. 6 arrows says:

    Oh, wow. I’ve listened to this twice now, and both times some strange mysterious liquid flooded my eyes two minutes from the end.

    The beautiful gospel. Grace. That’s what God gives us parents. And that’s what He equips us ambassadors with to be able to point our children to Him.

    But all the preceding parts of the talk were good, too. Some thoughts of Tripp’s that stood out to me:

    “…it’s not by the force of your personality … the volume of your voice … the logic of your argument … the scariness of your punishment …”

    I surely did need to hear that “logic of your argument” part. It’s so easy, for me, anyway, to try to think about the smartest way to “get that kid to finally…”

    No, no, no.

    And the personalizing what’s not personal: “Do you know what my day’s been like?”

    Ouch. Even if those exact words aren’t on my lips, they spill over into my tone of voice way too easily.

    “You’re not a change agent. You’re an ambassador of the One who changes.”

    Yes. That’s it in a nutshell. And it’s a good antidote to all the self-help books out there that do little more than provide lists of what to do and not do, with little to no mention of Christ and His redemptive work.

    But to the extent those books (or talks, or whatever) point us to Christ and what He’s done, and how God continues to work in all of our lives, no matter what age, they’re helpful.

    Thanks for sharing this. Four of my six kids are adults now, and the youngest two of mine are teen and almost teen, so this season of life is different for me than for you, Kelly. But the talk is still relevant because God’s truth is timeless and eternal.

    Thanks be to God for His abiding mercy and love.

  2. Kelly Crawford says:

    Amen to all of that. It hurt, but I needed it, and we’re always maturing in Christ. Thank the Lord my children are so forgiving and have short memories when it comes to my parenting.

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