As the father of five children, you might think I have some profound insights into the parenting and disciplining of children. But I’m actually on a steep learning-curve myself.
Over the years, I’ve seen the failing results of some self-styled “parenting experts,” and have decided to never put myself in the humiliating position of being a discredited expert in that area.
Instead, I’ve decided to embrace the position of fellow-struggler with other struggling parents in this fallen world.
Real life has a way of knocking our parenting delusions off of their pedestals… and that’s a good thing.
It reminds me of the Scottish minister who had six children. He said when he was a single man, he had six theories on how to raise children; but once he had a family of his own, he had six children and no theories.
In the middle of the messiness, the chaos, and the noise of daily life, I’m convinced that parenting and fatherhood are far beyond my own abilities. And that’s an understatement!
Parenting is beyond my personal and natural abilities. I need the Lord to do this. I need the Lord in every aspect of parenting.
While the challenge of raising godly children is beyond our human abilities, parenting itself is not unsuited for us, nor are we for it. The exact opposite is true.
God has given us the very children we have according to His good and perfect design. It is God who made us the parents of this child or these children with all of their problems, fears, sinfulness, and disabilities that challenge our faith as we walk with God.
Because I’m a father, I have regular discipleship and evangelistic opportunities right in my own home.
Because I’m a father, I have the built-in accountability of matching my words with my actions and attitudes every day.
Because I’m a father, I live with the consequences of my parenting decisions – and those choices have an immediate impact on the management of our home.
The reason parenting hurts is because we fail in it in multiple ways. Sometimes I have put my face into my hands and just wept over my failures as a parent.
Parenting is not supposed to make us feel comfortable. It’s not meant to enhance our self-fulfillment. Rather, God is growing our faith through the daily struggles of parenting.
We are being forced to depend more and more on Christ. We are being taught to forsake the sinful ways and methods of the world and to prepare our children for eternity.
But appearances can be deceiving. Not everyone who is smiling and looking clean on the surface is living that way in private.
Thirty-one years ago, now-disgraced comedian Bill Cosby had a book attributed to him called “Fatherhood.” It was a light-hearted survey of the humor involved in being a dad.
Today, Bill Cosby’s sad debacle reminds all of us that parenting and fatherhood have much more to do with what happens in our hearts before God – and behind closed doors – than about what the public sees on the surface.
As our nation celebrates another Father’s Day, I want to encourage all of the dads (and moms) who privately struggle with the challenge of raising kids in a fallen world. The parenting battle really begins in our own hearts.
Although God’s purpose for us as parents is not always pleasant, it is always good for us in Christ.
Ultimately, the parenting task should bring us to our knees and draw us closer to our Savior in this fleeting vapor called life.