I know – that’s a shocking statement coming from someone who has given birth to seven children – but it’s the truth. It’s not my job to raise kids.
And while I love being a mother and having kids – I want nothing to do with raising children.
I do, however, enter into whole heartedly the responsibility of raising men and women. And to the degree that any of this depends on me, I take very seriously my responsibility to raise men and women who love God and want to serve him with all their hearts, souls, minds and strength.
It’s so easy to get lost in the millions of details in raising and discipling the next generation of men and women. The truth is that there are many days when it is easy to lose sight of the fact that they will ever grow up and be men and women!
Diapers and tantrums, snotty noses and bedtimes and chores and curfews and rebellion and privileges and responsibilities – it’s exhausting! I’ve often said that the years might be fleeting, but the days feel eternal. Sometimes, in the midst of the heaviness of parenthood, it seems that the grinding, daily, toil of doing what looks like the same thing over and over and over again will never change. We begin to believe that it is endless but childhood, in reality, is a very brief time in a person’s life. Being an adult with the potential to influence our culture for good or for ill, lasts far longer.
If you are a parent who is weary, lift your gaze to the bigger things. Will this issue that you’re currently in a struggle with your child over matter in light of his adulthood? Or, more importantly, in light of eternity? If yes, then drop everything else and on your knees and with God’s wisdom fight like it really means that much.
But if it doesn’t – if this issue isn’t a matter of where your child’s heart is – then let it go.
Here’s a newsflash that we often forget: children are childish. They are not mature yet. They’re not wise. They’re not prudent or discerning or judicious. They’re childish.
And immaturity will eventually give way to maturity (I promise!) if you can keep sight of the bigger things. Don’t stress about immaturity. There is very little to be done for it other than time. Childish-ness is something to simply accept while your children are children – so find ways to laugh and cherish the moments and know that they’ll be gone before you can believe it.
But, as Proverbs 22:15 says, “Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child but the rod of discipline will drive it far from him.”
Being called foolish is not a compliment. Do a word search for fool or folly in an on-line Bible program and you will be stunned at what is said about the fool. My Microsoft Word Thesaurus doesn’t even come close to capture the weight of foolishness or folly. Using words like, “silly, thoughtless, stupid, or irrational,” is not what the Bible means at all when someone is called a fool. Unger’s Bible Dictionary puts it like this, “In Scripture the ‘fool’ primarily is the person who casts off the fear of God and thinks and acts as if he could safely disregard the eternal principles of God’s righteousness.” Those are sobering thoughts when applied to our children. Foolishness isn’t just not using our faculties well – it’s casting off all that God has set before us as good and going our own way. And scripture tells us that this propensity is bound up in the hearts of our children.
It may take all the years you have together as parent and child – and there are no guarantees in this – but more than teaching them anything else, we need to remember that our number one priority is to teach them the Gospel – to make disciples of the future men and women in our homes so that they, too, can make disciples of the next generation.
Will the piles of laundry or dishes or homework still be there later? Yes they will. (Get those precious darlings to help you with all of that.)
Will you fight some of those battles again and again and again? Yes you will. (Get some of your wise and godly friends to pray with you and help you with all of that, too.)
But we have to keep in mind that there will be an end to our daily parenting. Someday soon your children will be men and women.
Will they be faithful men and women? Will you have trained them in the valuable things that really and truly matter? Will you have given them the tools and the example of making all of life an offering of praise to their Heavenly Father?
Psalm 145 says this:
I will extol you, my God and King,
and bless your name forever and ever.
Every day I will bless you
and praise your name forever and ever.
Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised,
and his greatness is unsearchable.
One generation shall commend your works to another,
and shall declare your mighty acts.
On the glorious splendor of your majesty,
and on your wondrous works, I will meditate.
They shall speak of the might of your awesome deeds,
and I will declare your greatness.
They shall pour forth the fame of your abundant goodness
and shall sing aloud of your righteousness.
The LORD is gracious and merciful,
slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
The LORD is good to all,
and his mercy is over all that he has made.
All your works shall give thanks to you, O LORD,
and all your saints shall bless you!
They shall speak of the glory of your kingdom
and tell of your power,
to make known to the children of man your mighty deeds,
and the glorious splendor of your kingdom.
Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom,
and your dominion endures throughout all generations. (ESV, emphasis added)
The outcome of all of this is in the Lord’s hands, but whether or not you will be faithful to the task today is in yours.
Don’t raise children – raise men and women who may then raise men and women who love and serve God for generations to come.