We’ve just finished two weeks of a twelve week class that we’ve titled “Gospel-Driven Parenting.” I taught the first two weeks and Matt Fowler will be teaching this next Sunday.
Why teach a 12 week class on parenting?
Why did you name it “Gospel-Driven Parenting?”
Is this some of the same lessons that have been taught previously with our Family-Equipping Model (Faith Map; Faith Talks; Faith Walks; Faith Mission)?
Last year, we set up two months each year where I would speak to parents (Feb & Sept), Matt would speak (Mar & Oct), and Jeff as well (Apr & Nov). I chose to split my months with two options—weeks 1& 2 or weeks 3 & 4—with each option having the same two lessons. Parents were able to choose which two weeks they would attend. Those were received well, but some parents had stated they would like more of this type of teaching and more discussion on some of the practical steps. The reality is that those two lessons equaled about 2.5 hours every six months of teaching time. And there is so much information you’re trying to deliver to parents that it can be a rush of information dump—and not much time left for discussion and questions.
Two hours every six months is not quite what we believe will truly help change the current culture of spiritual discipleship within most homes. For those parents who are truly desiring to lead their families and see the next generation treasuring Christ—this would not be considered adequate training and equipping.
Therefore, we decided to develop a 12-week class where all three Family Pastors (Matt Fowler, Mike Krebs, myself) would be teaching for about 45 minutes and then leave around 20 minutes for questions and discussion.
Here’s a quick glimpse of some of the stuff we’ve covered so far in the first two weeks:
What is your goal in parenting?
What are some possible goals for many parents out there?
What is your goal for your family?
But let’s step back and ask, What is God trying to do in my own heart and life as a parent?
We spent some time looking at what the Bible reveals to us about our own hearts.
The culture around us, academia, and some misleading teachers of the Bible tell us that people are by nature “good.” And we need to simply believe that there is a God and that this God wants us to try to be good, moral agents. We’re told to discover the good deep inside of us and use that to help the world.
That is not from the Bible.
The Bible teaches us that though God created every single person “in His image,” that image of God in every person has been corrupted and marred by sin at the core of our nature. Sure, even lost people see someone in need and help them. But all our works do nothing in atoning for our core sinful hearts.
We are not already “ok” with God needing to simply give a nod to Him and acknowledge that He exists. Satan and every demon see and understand clearly that He exists. It is a matter of seeing our sins as an immeasurable offense to a gracious, just, and holy God. We are separated because of our sins, therefore we must agree with God and confess to God that we hate our sinful state and that we want to stop sinning against Him. That is referred to repentance. So, we agree with God we are sinful—and because we see Him as magnificent we want to stop sinning against Him—turning back to Him and turning away from our sins (repent). We need forgiveness of all our sins and we need perfect righteousness and holiness (guilt free/as if we had never sinned against God’s law) that Jesus provided in His perfect submission to His Father’s will and living a life where He never sinned. We also need a new heart that is enabled by the Holy Spirit of God to now obey and enjoy God’s law.
All of this—the perfect obedience required by God’s law (righteousness) and forgiveness of sins was provided by Jesus’ life, death on the cross, and resurrection.
That is not something you “find deep within yourself” in order to make yourself a better person. And there is definitely nothing deep within you nor any good deeds you could perform to reconcile yourself to God or to make God accept you.
We find our acceptance from God wrapped up in the gospel message of Jesus Christ.
How does this factor into how we parent then?
We looked at Deuteronomy 6 where we see God’s design and desire for parents. We also looked at Ephesians 2 to see the true state of all people—“dead in trespasses and sins,”—yet the beauty and hope of the gospel, “BUT GOD…being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which He loved us (IDENTITY—not pride but humbled—not self-love but loved by God—not self-esteem but unshakable identity), even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved…”
And we looked at the hope of Ephesians 4 to see what should be happening to see people brought to maturity in Christlikeness.
These were some foundational Biblical examples that we must be looking into as a true mirror for our own hearts.
What is God revealing to you about your own heart, your own desires for control, your desires for pleasing and impressing other people, your desire for extremely obedient children?
What if God is wanting some extremely obedient parents who only do what He’s already revealed in Scripture for them to be doing?
It may be that God really wants to expand your understanding of the gospel’s implications on your own heart as you come seeking Biblical teaching for your children.
SO LET’S START WHERE GOD WANTS TO START—NOT WITH YOUR CHILDREN’S BEHAVIOR—NOT EVEN WITH YOUR CHILDREN—BUT WITH YOU—THE ADULT BELIEVING PARENT.
We discussed two polar ends of the parenting pendulum:
Legalism/Extreme Law <----------> License/Extreme Freedom
Some parents believe that rigid, behavior-focused rules are what will produce good Godly kids.
Other parents believe that allowing kids the freedom to “express themselves” and find their own way through having no constricting rules is the way to produce Godly offspring.
Add to that the press in academia and our culture for self-esteem, pride, and self-love.
Interestingly—all of those philosophies of parenting fall short of what the Bible calls us to as parents. In most cases, parents are reacting to what they experienced from their parents or going to the far extreme opposite of what their parents did.
What if parents discovered that the Bible does not point us to legalism nor license? Instead it points us to Jesus Christ who came “in grace and truth.” We’re not supposed to choose which one we prefer. And many times it’s a blindspot in our lives as to which way we lean.
What if parents discovered that self-love and pride are actually the opposite message at the core of the gospel?
We want our parents and our children to develop identities that are wrapped up in the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Think about it—what are you and your children dealing with…
—shy kid cant build friends —prideful & arrogant kid —cutting kid
—depressed kid —sad kid —damaged abused kid
—attitude kid —complaining griping kid —disrespectful kid
—rebellious kid —sexually engaged/sexually confused kid
THE ANSWER FOR ALL OF THOSE IS A LIVING MAN—JESUS CHRIST—AND HIS CROSS.
—Not self-esteem —Not popularity —Not a boyfriend/girlfriend
—Not personal achievement in sports/academics/the arts —Not comparing against other kids
But helping them learn to base their IDENTITY IN THE GOSPEL OF JESUS CHRIST!
—That means looking at themselves and others—and being captivated by what Jesus has accomplished for them in His LIFE, HIS DEATH, HIS RESURRECTION, and HIS SOON RETURN.
WE’RE NOT WANTING PERFECT KIDS—WE WANT GOSPEL-DRIVEN PARENTS WHO REPRODUCE DISCIPLES WHO TREASURE CHRIST.
WHEN KIDS HAVE ATTITUDES/BEHAVIORAL PROBLEMS
—EACH LITTLE INCIDENT IS AN OPPORTUNITY FOR A “HEART TALK” ABOUT THE GOSPEL
—TO HELP THEM THINK THROUGH WHAT LED UP TO THEIR SINFUL RESPONSE
—WHAT THIS SHOWS THEM ABOUT THEIR HEART
—WHAT JESUS HAS DONE ON THEIR BEHALF AT THE CROSS
—AND HOW AGREEING WITH GOD ON THEIR SIN, REPENTING, AND SEEING JESUS AS THE ALL-SUFFICIENT HOPE FOR CHANGE SHOULD BE THEIR CORRECT RESPONSE.
We want to train our children to think through and process their life and daily (hourly) decisions with the gospel as the grid and lens they look through.
We must restore the “main thing” to be the MAIN THING—LOVING THE LORD WITH ALL OUR HEART, SOUL, MIND, AND STRENGTH.
Sankie P. Lynch
Pastor of Families