So this tiny, helpless baby is placed in your arms. You know the wonderful, overwhelming feeling of being totally responsible for this immortal human being. It’s like God handing you a blank canvas.
Your job is to raise this child in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. That’s no little job! I believe that a parent’s primary responsibility is discipleship. When I think of Jesus’ example as he walked with and taught his followers, pointing them always to the Father, revealing truth to them in the daily events of life, I can’t help think that we owe the same to our children. It’s intense, time-consuming and worth every second.
This prayer that Jesus prayed for His disciples is full of wisdom we can glean:
“I have revealed you to those whom you gave me out of the world. They were yours; you gave them to me and they have obeyed your word….For I gave them the words you gave me and they accepted them….While I was with them, I protected them and kept them safe…I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world….My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one….Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world…” From John 16 & 17
But, the ultimate purpose is to grow them up. From the minute they are born, we are teaching them the next thing, helping them become more and more independent. From holding their own cup to getting dressed on their own then learning to cook or cut firewood, it’s a constant movement toward maturity. And we are to be growing them up spiritually all the same.
I want to carefully guide my children “in the way they should go”, but I want them to pick up from God’s Word and make it their own. I want them to obey as I lead them to God, but I want them to hunger for God themselves and desire the sweetness of His precepts.
I was talking to my brother about this and how I’m so grateful that the Lord is showing me how this works in my oldest daughter’s life. At 16, she now makes many decisions on her own, weighing them against the principles of truth. From her clothing to her choice of movies, books and music, if she were not able to discern these things for herself at her age, I would consider that we had possibly not done our job.
If our relationship is right, we will move from a position of establishing boundaries for our young ones, to one of sought-after counsel and guidance as they get older. But the ultimate goal is to raise children who, more and more, are able to discern, with the Spirit’s help, what God’s will is.
We’re raising men and women. We are passing the baton and handing down our legacy of faith. It’s easy for us to forget the goal. It’s easy to keep them in our “safe place” and just continue making their decisions for them. But that’s not why we’ve been given children. Arrows were meant to fly and leave our hands. Let’s be preparing them all the time for the launch.