Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Parenting, One Minute At A Time

In the last few weeks, I have become aware of how much I do not deserve the wife and children God has given me. My inadequacies as a parent are too numerous to list. Given our families of origin, the statistics say we should be divorced and have dysfunctional children. We do not. Pastor's children are expected to live rebelliously, even though statistics show they are less likely to do so than others. And, while we have advanced education in working with families and children, and that training has given us some tools, we have learned that tools aren't all we need. We home school, yet we know that homeschooling is no more a guarantee of godly children than public school is a guarantee of ungodly children.

In my life of inconsistent living, I've tried to figure out what has worked. What is it that God has taught me that I need to keep doing. First, I think that He has taught me what the supreme goal of parenting is. It is not earthly success, but eternal character. We have kept our eyes set firmly on this future for our children; that they would, above all, be a man and woman with the character of Christ. Again and again I have told them that what they do in the future is of much less concern to me and God than who they are in that future. If they have the character to follow God faithfully, they will do what God has planned and it will be the best future for them.

The other things is this. I have learned to live one minute at a time, especially in my relationship with God, my wife, and my children. Too often, our answer to a problem is an event. When church is cold and lifeless, we schedule an event. When we are bored and burned out, we schedule an event. When we sense our children slipping away, we often schedule an event like a vacation or a special outing.

When I sense distance between me and God, or me and my wife, or me and my children, and I schedule an event, the distance usually follows us there. When I sense distance and I simply take a minute to repent, listen, and love, the distance disappears. Any Christian can be a Christian parent one minute at a time. Once we take a minute, we find that the time melts away. Soon, parenting is no longer a chore or a fear, but a joy. Minute by minute we live. Minute by minute we must parent. Minute by minute we help our children build a foundation of faithfulness to God that He will use for their future.