Nothing More Important
Nothing is more important in your life than being one of God’s tools to form a human soul.
You’re haunted by regret. You don’t want to be, but you are; not about anything big, but about all those little moments of failure. You remember the little promises you made that you got too busy to keep. The moments when you yelled when you should have been listening. You remember how hard it was to have children and be fair and how often you failed. You remember falling asleep at recitals and hope they never knew. You remember making ridiculous threats and hope they don’t remember as well as you do. You remember that time you stopped the van, made them all get out, and told them that you wouldn’t let them back in until they could get along with one another. You remember that it was easier to announce the law than to give grace. You’d like to be free of regret, but you’re not.
Your kids will never be what they’re supposed to be or do if they lack God-consciousness.
What is everything I just described about? What unifies all these parental scenarios? They are all about a calling—one of the most significant callings that could ever be laid in the lap of a human being. If you would stop and think about its full ramifications, it would make you run away unless it had already made you too weak in the knees. In a way it’s insane for anyone to actually think that they could take this on. You’d have to be delusional to think that you’re actually prepared. It has the quality of standing before a 747 and telling yourself that you could pick it up if you wanted to. It seems that this could possibly be the one mistake of an otherwise perfect God. Is it really true that God asks parents to be his agents-on-hand for the forming of a human soul? Really? Let’s consider the enormity of God’s plan and what it means for you as parents.
A Significant Calling
The value of parenting goes to the heart of what God has designed every human being to know and to be. To lose this thing is literally to lose a piece of your humanity. Parenting gets to the core of what should motivate every thought, desire, word, decision, or action that every human being has ever taken. There is nothing in the life of any child ever born that is more needed than this. This is the thing that makes parenting of highest importance—holy in the true sense of what that word means. This should be the goal at the bottom of all the things you do and all the things you want for your children. To lose sight of this is to miss the point of parenting. To lose sight of this removes the tracks that give direction to all that you do with each of your children. This is the thing that should satisfy you on those goods days with your children and keep you motivated on the very hard days with them. This really is the central task that makes your work as a parent a treasure of extreme value. Pay attention to the words below:
Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. (Deuteronomy 6:4–9)
When your son asks you in time to come, “What is the meaning of the testimonies and the statutes and the rules that the Lord our God has commanded you?” then you shall say to your son, “We were Pharaoh’s slaves in Egypt. And the Lord brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand. And the Lord showed signs and wonders, great and grievous, against Egypt and against Pharaoh and all his household, before our eyes. And he brought us out from there, that he might bring us in and give us the land that he swore to give our fathers.” (Deuteronomy 6:20–23)
There’s the value that God places on parenting, summarized in a couple brief, but profound paragraphs. Your work as a parent is a thing of extreme value because God has designed that you would be a principal, consistent, and faithful tool in his hands for the purpose of creating God-consciousness and God-submission in your children. You can’t create this yourself, only God can, but you have been appointed to be an irreplaceable tool in his powerful hands. You see, at the core of what God designed human beings to be is the acknowledgment of his existence and surrender to authority. Those are the things that he meant to rule the heart of everyone who ever lived. Your kids will never be what they’re supposed to be or do if they lack God-consciousness. It is the essential thing that must be developed in the heart of every child, and the passages above say that that task was assigned by God to parents.
Your church was not designed to replace you, but to assist and equip you for this essential work. Your government was never designed to replace you, but to protect you as you do this core work. The school near you will never replace you; at the very best it will support you as you do the work that only you can do. You could argue that the chief reason God put parents in children’s lives is so that they would know him. The most important thing that a child could ever learn about is the existence, character, and plan of God. If you know this fact, it will alter the way you understand and interpret every other fact in your life.
I would ask you right now to be humble, open, and honest. What competes in your heart and therefore in your daily decisions for the value that parenting should have? In your mundane, repeated, daily schedule does parenting have the place of high honor and high importance that God intended? What other things get in the way? What new and better choices is God calling you to make?
This is article is adapted from Parenting: The 14 Gospel Principles That Can Radically Change Your Family by Paul David Tripp.