What do you think of when you hear the word parenting? Different images begin to populate your mind. It could be the picture-perfect family walking hand-in-hand along a beach. Or it could be the chaos that really occurs! This word brings extreme joy for some and sheer torment for others. But I want us to see that parenting is vitally important to the life of a child and their engagement with Christ.
Pastor and author Paul David Tripp articulates parenting as the act of shepherding one’s child on God’s behalf.
To be a shepherd, means we are leading someone somewhere. While we don’t usually see shepherds walking around leading their flocks anymore, we can draw from the imagery. A shepherd leads their flock to a specific place. And while they are on the journey, they navigate the terrain in the best way they know-how. They fend off wolves from getting to their flock. They go after a stray member of the flock. They look after and care for the well-being of their flock. They provide for their flock.
In the same manner, parents we are to do this for our children. We are leading them on behalf of God. Did you catch that? We are leading our children on behalf of God. Yes, that’s right. Our children do not belong to us. We are just stewards of them for a short amount of time. In our culture, kids become adults at age 18. So, if we want to go by those standards, we have 18 years to shape their minds, their skills, and their abilities to set them on a trajectory for success in life. What we do today to influence our children will impact them tomorrow in how they live, work and navigate the world.
If we only have a short amount of time, then we must make sure that we do everything we can to point them in the right direction. What’s the right direction? Jesus. Plain and simple. Jesus is the right direction. As parents, we are shepherding our children on God’s behalf. He has entrusted us with their lives, and we are his instruments and tools. Are we allowing God to use us to influence our children for Him, or are we attempting to lead our children down a path that leads to heartache and trouble?
Parents, you impact your children more than you think. Utilize that impact for something greater than ourselves or even our desires. Use the influence you have to make Christ the center of your child’s life. Be willing to go the extra mile to point them to Jesus. While we may not see the results of our labor in the immediate future, we still do the work. We still put in the effort. Why? Because every child, every person matters and they matter to the Lord.
Dr. Alex Watkins is the Pastor of Worship and Families at New Friendship Baptist Church in Auburn. You can learn more about parent discipling at foundationsjourney.com.