Ok. We are back. Trying to settle in. Sorry for the hiatus for those two or three folks that even pay attention to the blog 🙂 We have been on transition as a family moving, and we have moved. Well, at least our stuff is out of our old house and in storage in another town. Within about two or three weeks it will be in our new home. We are excited about making a new home and loving on new neighbors together!
For today and Friday, I thought we would share a little on cultivating into our kids the discipline to deny self. We don’t do it well. But we are trying. And the reason we are trying is because it is one of the only personal disciplines Jesus ever spoke of.
Then He said to them all, “If anyone wants to come with Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow Me.”
(Luke 9:23 HCSB)
Deny self to follow Jesus. I don’t think it is a stretch to paraphrase that verse in this way – deny self and live fully. Live for self and self-destruct. Verse 24 (the next verse in Luke 9) expands on the thought.
So here is the deal. How are we as parents cultivating for this discipline in one another as well as in our kids? They will learn it best by seeing it in us. But they also need the practice themselves while they are in an environment, the home, where not denying themselves won’t completely destroy them.
Pause for a second, though, for a distinction. Trying to get kids to behave well may include denying self, but it may not. Moralism actually tends to include a focus on self – self-improvement. So behaving well that does not flow from a denial of self is no denial of self at all. We must be cautious of this. Denying self is an act of surrender more than an act of behavior. The behavior that results is then shaped by the One to whom we surrender. Make sense?
So, here are three foundational thoughts all humans think, including our kids (at least at some point):
Who am I?
Why do I exist?
What should I do?
Who is the focus of these questions? Me, myself, and I. Self.
Soooo, are there some alternative questions we can encourage in order to cultivate into our kids hearts and minds that deny self? This is important, because denial of self is a precursor to following Jesus, according to Jesus Himself.
What about this.
What if instead of parenting in such a way that encourages our kids to discover the answer to “who am I,” we parent in such a way that encourages our kids to discover the answer to: WHOSE AM I?
What if instead of parenting in such a way that encourages our kids to discover the answer to “why do I exist,” we parent in such a way that encourages our kids to discover the answer to: WHY DID JESUS EXIST?
What if instead of parenting in such a way that encourages our kids to discover the answer to “what should I do,” we parent in such a way that encourages our kids to discover the answer to: WHAT IS JESUS DOING?
Whatcha think? We might have to deny self and deny our typical parenting habits and deny our common cultural parenting stigmas in order to cultivate for these three foundational questions in our kids.
May we keep learning to grow kids with grace and send kids with gospel.