Back when I was a new parent, I was bombarded by parenting books. I always study whatever it is I want to master. Since I didn’t want to mess up the most important assignment that God had given me, I studied the subject voraciously. I even took “Parenting Infant” classes and “Parenting Toddler” classes; I attended parenting conferences at local Christian churches. After a while, I realized there were a few common denominators: the books all mentioned first-time obedience and self-control as the two most important qualities to train into young children. They all agreed about spanking, since I was reading books that were based on the Bible and not on modern psychobabble. But the ghastly thing was that the majority of books contradicted each other at every other point.
Some of the books focused so much on the nitty-gritty of not allowing your children to ever get away with anything, even if they did something by accident because of childishness and not rebellion. (I remember being a child, and my parents believing I had done something out of rebellion when it was an accident. This happened a lot. Many times there’s no way for parents to know what motivated their child. They need to ask God.) Lists of rules don’t differentiate such things.
There was a specific book that I got rid of that caused me to sin by being more militant than I already was. The Spirit of God was not in that book. It ended up that the four children who were raised under that author ALL ended up turning their backs on God because of the militant way he ruled his house. The grown children eventually came back to God, and the author is quite a good speaker now. Humble and broken. But he hasn’t retracted his book. The book that destroyed his family and will destroy many more families that follow his process.
Having thrown that book out, I knew that the parenting book about shepherding the hearts of our children caused me to rely upon God to help me shape the heart of my child rather than focusing on my child’s behavior. Parents automatically notice the outer behavior of their children, because it’s physically noticeable and inconvenient to us. But God looks at the heart. If you lose your child’s heart, all is lost. Nothing else matters.
I think parents prefer to have a list of do’s and don’ts rather than cry out to God during each time you deal with your child. Leaning on the Spirit is outside the box. It’s being yoked to Christ, which brings rest to your soul. It’s having instant access to the wisdom of God, because many times only God knows what your child needs. If you rely on lists, you are definitely “leaning on your own understanding,” which is the opposite of the way God calls us to live. We must reach upward and yield to God in the moment. The fruit of the Spirit will become evident, and you will see exactly what I mean about parenting under Christ, because there is no other way to do it right.Tweet