PART 2: Does the Gospel change the way I parent? How should it?

Last Wednesday, we posted way 1 of 3 as to how the gospel should define and determine and shape the way we parent. In order to catch the intro, as well as read a short yet inadequate summary of the gospel, you can read last week’s post by clicking here. Meanwhile, here’s reason # 2.

The second way the gospel should change our parenting relates to WHY WE DISCIPLINE. To be blunt, most parents don’t even process WHY they do discipline or do not discipline. It is normally a default reason for parents who do – to correct a behavior. For those who don’t discipline, that thinking can be considered in another blog post. Anyway, to correct a behavior is not a gospel-influenced motivation for discipline, since the notion that a behavior can be corrected is not a gospel-centered thought.

“…for if righteousness comes through the Law, then Christ died for nothing.”
-Galatians 2:21

SIDE NOTE: know before you read on that I am NOT advocating that anyone quit disciplining their children. Not at all. Jen and I do. But we are praying that Jesus will continue to wreck the default reason for discipline and reshape our motivation to be His. 

“…for the Lord disciplines the one He loves.”
-Hebrews 12:6

So, what should our motivation be? I would suggest:

  1. in order to demonstrate how destructive and hurtful selfishness (sinfulness) is. 
  2. in order to confront selfishness and have a moment for a prayer of confession and a recognition of forgiveness.
  3. in order to graciously restore relationship among those hurt by the selfish act. 

A behavioral choice that requires discipline also requires more than behavioral modification. It requires an exposure to the need for the help of a Savior who can save us from the destructive consequences of our selfishness. And that is a gospel-centered thought that leads to what I would suggest may be God’s favorite prayer that we pray – HELP. 

Discipline in a parental context is to most people synonymous with a spanking or a grounding. While those two forms of consequences may be used, “discipline” is not about a consequence as much as it is about learning. The word itself is a derivative of “disciple,” which means “learner.” So, discipline is more about a moment for learning to occur. Once again, however, it is not learning a new behavior, but rather learning Whom someone needs to call on for help because we cannot help ourselves and change what is causing us to behave in such a selfish way. 

Parents who discipline for behavioral correction will get just that – corrected behavior for a temporary modification without a contrite heart that is gratefully forgiven. Kids who are disciplined only for behavioral correction unfortunately too often do not learn the significance of repentance and confession and contriteness and gratefulness. They often end up treasuring being seen as “good” or struggle being seen as “bad.” This does not highlight the goodness of the God who came near to help us in our badness. Furthermore, the ultimate product of behavioral correction is a focus on more behavioral correction, in other words, a response to sin that involves trying harder resulting in shameful weariness rather than a response to sin that involves humble confession resulting in grateful restoration. 

Remember – we want to send our kids off to college one day knowing Who is good rather than thinking of themselves as good, knowing Who loves them no matter what rather than wondering if they are good enough to be loved. 

Thoughts???

May we discipline for kids who are growing in grace and being sent with gospel. 

Does the gospel of Jesus change the way I parent? And why should it???

GOD the Father – the One who before the foundation of the world chose to give us the same love He shared with His Son, the One who made the world for an environment in which we could know and experience His love, the One who knew before He made us that we would grasp for more than His goodness and love, the One who planned before the foundation of the world to put on skin to come near into the world He made to be light in our consequential darkness in order to demonstrate once and for all His forever love by killing off the sin and selfishness that emerged from our grasping for more than His goodness and love, the One who came as Jesus to clarify His original proposal for intimate relationship with us betrothing us as His bride forever because of His undeserved love, the One who gave us His Spirit for this season of engagement and embodiment that we might be assured of His love as well as be empowered to love like He loves us, and the One who will return to bring us near forever as His impure bride grateful that He purified us with His love – He always has been communicating a news with us. And it is good.

It is difficult to summarize a news that took so long to communicate and clarify and deliver, but here is a petty yet hopeful attempt:

the Gospel _ that news that God, even before He made us, knew we couldn’t get this life right or our behavior better or our insecurities secured or our loneliness overcome. So, even before we were sinners, before we said we were sorry, He had already planned to come in skin right near to us to assure us of His undeserved love, to forgive us for wanting to know more than the life He offered, to remind us of His desire to be with us, to demonstrate His faithfulness to keep a promise even though we couldn’t, and to invite us along with Him to continue to announce and declare and embody this same good news to all who are ashamed and hopeless and insecure and alone and have lost their way.

We believe this already-made-into-reality-through-the-cross news, and we are not condemned. But how is this news becoming “on earth as it is in heaven” in your daily rhythms and relationships? More specifically, how does it affect your parenting? Should it? 

I would suggest that it should disturb and define and determine our parenting, especially if our hope is for our kids to relate with the Heavenly Father rather than just please their parents. I am begging Jesus to use His gospel to disturb and define and determine Jen and me as parents, and I pray the same for you. Today as well as for the next two Wednesdays, I will suggest three ways His gospel should do just that.

First, I would suggest that His gospel should change the way we think of and believe in our kids. We should not think of them in terms like happiness and good and deserving and would never do something like that. We should not believe that they ought to already know better or that they should never suffer through hardship. We should pray for them with terms like joyous and selfish and grateful and contrite. We should believe that they can grow to be wise and that, even through difficulty, God is making them to become something. And thinking of them and believing in them in these ways should reshape our parenting away from the goal of raising a good kid toward raising a grateful kid secured by grace and sent fully loved. 

What do you think?

May His gospel shape us to grow kids with grace and send them with gospel.
-Jason

For some reason, the Free Throw shot in basketball, although uncontested and straight on from in front of the basket, is one of the most difficult. A layup, two feet from the goal, often banks off too hard. Dribbling and passing, in today’s one-on-one game are lost fundamentals essential to a team’s success. With a win or a championship in mind, and even sometimes with just the individual accomplishment rather than the team’s focus in mind, the fundamentals are often overlooked.

Parents do this, too. We may have goals of raising “sent kids,” but do we give the attention to wrestling with and immersing ourselves in the language of and implications of the Gospel in order to do this? Is the Gospel something we can teach in the flow of conversation with our kids? Only when we ourselves make mental margin as well as calendar margin to learn it and process it and be disturbed by it and transformed by it.

The Gospel of Jesus is vast enough that no amount of time ever could be enough to grasp it. Yet, the Gospel of Jesus is simple enough that its significant impact can often be missed. With Christ’s help, as we grow kids with grace and send kids with gospel, we need not overlook the fundamental of being able to articulate and teach the Gospel to ourselves as well as our children. We need to ask Jesus to help us grow to be fluent in the Gospel so that we can translate it into the lives of our children.

With that in mind, here’s a short video from Trevin Wax about teaching the Gospel to kids.

And here’s a short video summarizing the Gospel called “321” that is very clear and well-done.

Hope these resources help you as you grow kids with grace and send kids with Gospel.

husband. wife. dad. mom. “LOVE LIKE THAT.”

To love as Jesus has loved us. That becomes the desire of every follower of Jesus who is grateful for the grace and forgiveness given to us, because that is the “new command” He gave and grows in us (John 13:34-35). But how difficult this is for the husband and wife, for the mom and dad!

We are more relaxed in relationship to those with whom we are most familiar. Our relaxation often translates into a low awareness of self-absorption, and consequently results in a lack of denial of self. Therefore, we become less patient and more frustrated, less gracious and more critical, less generous and more cautious.

Paul challenges this relaxation and self-absorption in his letter to the church of Ephesus. In fact, he practically applies it in two specific relationships – marriage at the end of Ephesians 5 and parenting at the beginning of Ephesians 6.

May we beg Jesus daily to help us as husbands and wives and as moms and dads to love one another and to love our children like Jesus has loved us. May we ask Jesus to grow us daily to discover more and more how Jesus loves us.

May Paul’s words in Ephesians 5:1-2, as translated below by Eugene Peterson, become the heartbeat of our marriages and our parenting, because it is crucial in order to grow kids with grace and send kids with gospel:

Watch what God does, and then you do it, like children who learn proper behavior from their parents. Mostly what God does is love you. Keep company with Him and learn a life of love. Observe how Christ loved us. His love was not cautious but extravagant. He didn’t love in order to get something from us but to give everything of Himself to us. Love like that.
~Ephesians 5:1-2, the Message

Husbands – ask Jesus to help you love your wife like that.

Wives – ask Jesus to help you love your husband like that.

Parents – ask Jesus to help you love your children like that.

What is it in our minds, our hearts, our past, our present, our schedules, and our priorities that keeps us from loving like this? 

 

do you as a parent view the church as a PARTNER or as a PRIMARY?

Do you view the local church family of which you are a part in a PARTNER role or a PRIMARY role when it comes to your kids? I don’t know many parents who would ever say they view the church in the primary role of raising their kids, but too often when it comes to disciple-making, this is the default thought and the unstated view.

As parents, how much focused attention and creative energy and quantity time are you giving into these areas of development for your children?

  • their awareness of the BIG story of GOD and how their stories are defined and secured and purposed by Him
  • their ability to not only articulate the Gospel but also to translate its gracious and loving and securing and compelling aspects into their daily lives
  • their understanding of how to read and study and apply the many rich and complex and beautiful stories found in the books of the Bible
  • their focus on more than just what they want to do and want to be but also on how they are giving into what others are doing and want to become
  • their propensity toward confession and contriteness
  • their willingness to listen well and learn much
  • their growing gratefulness for the gracious, merciful, loving Gospel of Jesus

And just to clarify, here is this guy’s short, petty, lacking, but hopefully close-to-adequate summary of that grand, gracious Gospel:

the Gospel _ that news that God, even before He made us, knew we couldn’t get this life right or our behavior better or our insecurities secured or our loneliness overcome. So, even before we were sinners, He had already planned to come in skin right near to us to assure us of His undeserved love, to forgive us for wanting to know more than the life He offered, to remind us of His desire to be with us, to demonstrate His faithfulness to keep a promise even though we couldn’t, and to invite us along with Him to continue to announce and declare and embody this same good news to all who are ashamed and hopeless and insecure and alone and have lost their way.

The Gospel is more than worth spending our entire lives discovering its impact on our identity, learning the wisdom of how Jesus secures us, living to love because of how the Spirit compels us, and growing in gratefulness for how God has restored us.

The question for us as parents – WILL WE ASK JESUS TO WRECK US AND RESTORE US WITH THIS GOSPEL SO MUCH SO THAT WE CAN’T HELP BUT WANT TO GIVE OUR  FOCUSED ATTENTION AND CREATIVE ENERGY AND QUANTITY TIME INTO LEARNING AND LIVING THE GOSPEL OF JESUS WITH OUR KIDS?

We need a church family to partner with us together in this. We don’t need to view the church as the primary disciple-maker of our kids. We have dropped them off for church activity long enough. May we be the church together with our kids and together as respective families, encouraging and praying for and equipping one another as parents to grow our kids with grace and send our kids with gospel.

Thoughts???

the danger of building up your child’s self-esteem

Much has been said over the years of the necessity of building up a child’s self-esteem. It sounds right. Help children think they are good enough, smart enough, and dog-gone-it, people like them. Focus on their confidence and happiness, and they will soar through life. Get them to believe in themselves, and they can do anything. 

But what if this is dangerous? 

First, self-esteem is prefixed with the word “self.” For those of us grateful for the gospel of Jesus, any use of “self” (except for the denial of it) is anti-gospel (Luke 9:23-24). Kids who are growing in grace and being sent with gospel don’t need an esteem defined by or rooted in their belief in themselves. If anything, this would be counter-productive to following Jesus and living on mission to make disciples with Him, for a belief in self compels us on a quest to feel lovable, while a belief in the God of the gospel compels us on mission to love as we have been loved. 

Next, self-esteem doesn’t move someone to rely on God’s goodness. Rather, it moves someone to think of themselves as good enough. The problem with this is that we are relying on a worth-standard that changes with how we feel about ourselves and with how well or poorly we behave. This is also anti-gospel. We are not to trust Jesus then try to be good. We are to trust Jesus because He is good (even good to me even though I am not good to Him). Gratefulness for His goodness moves me toward demonstrating His goodness in my everyday relationships.

Finally, self-esteem offers false hope. “Believe in yourself and you can do anything” is a lie. Yes, there are some folks who have through internal fortitude accomplished some amazing things. However, at some point, this principle that undergirds the dangerous notion that self-esteem is right and good – this principle of believe in yourself and you can do anything – this principle breaks down. Failure to “do anything” you set your mind to happens, and self-esteem is shot. 

Praise God that His declaration of love and value over us has nothing to do with us. It has all to do with His Son. Self-esteem is a deceptive tool of the evil one. Jesus-esteem is a gospel-based ideal. 

How are you cultivating for Jesus-esteem in your kids? Do you yourself have Jesus-esteem? Do you consider building up self-esteem to be dangerous? 

Thoughts???

Make sure you are cultivating these three truths into your kids…

As my wife and I hope to grow our six kids with grace and send them with gospel, there are six ongoing practices we emphasize. I will share those with you in an ebook later this year as well as in a series of posts come August or September. Meantime, there are three gospel truths we try to cultiavte into their heads and hearts at all times. And we try to remember them ourselves as parents. For in believing these and in keeping on believing these, the gospel takes roots and blossoms “on earth as it is in heaven” into our home and through our lives.

Hopefully, these are three truths you have been cultivating into the heads and hearts of your kids. If not, today’s a good day to start! 🙂

1 _ You are fully loved.
The gospel of Jesus is the good news that God came near before we said sorry and before we asked for help. Why? Because He loves. No matter what you think of God, it is nailed down what He thinks of us – graciously, you and I are worth dying to Him. !

2 _ You are securely loved.
This gospel now identifies us. We are not lost and alone. We do not have to be afraid. We are not condemned. Why? Because if we believe in the One who was sent, then we can cease striving to earn God’s to-be-given love and instead believe and live in His already-given love. We are secure in Christ. And because you are now identified with Jesus, because I am identified with Jesus, even on my worst day and in my worst moment, I am still “Jason, in Christ.”!

3 _ You are compelled by love.
Because we are fully loved, we are fully secure. We are filled up, not needing to search for ways to be filled but able to pour out our lives that others might be filled. He loved us first (1st John 4:7-11). He identifies us as sent ones believing in the Sent one (John 20:21). His loving us first compels us to go love first, in hopes that others will believe in the One who was sent (John 6:29).

Jesus, please grow us as parents in wisdom to teach like you taught and to emphasize what you emphasized. We are grateful for Your love.