Children don’t come with manuals. This is usually said when we’ve messed up at parenting. It’s true that they don’t come with manuals. But we do have a few thousand years of wisdom to which we can turn. Even better, we have some pretty smart guys and gals to break down that ancient wisdom for us. This past Sunday, Seven Rivers Presbyterian Church started a 5-week sermon series called Parenting. If you missed the first of the 5-part series, check it out here. Chad Townsley, who happens to be smack dab in the thick of parenting three little ones along with his wife, Annaliese, preached on the job of parenting being a "fierce determination." He reminded listeners of the passage in Deuteronomy 6:5-9 which states, "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates." This passage tells us that parenting is discipleship, in grace and in love, little by little, day by day, year by year.
Pastor and author Zack Eswine says that the significant life comes from small, mostly-overlooked things done over a long period of time. I can’t think of a better description of parenting. It could be quite daunting, and often is. But when you have a community of like-minded parents, especially parents who have already “been there,” and a church family to walk alongside you and teach you, the task is not insurmountable. The big message of Chad’s sermon is that our chief goal of parenting is to teach our children about Jesus. Without Jesus, nothing else matters. When I was raising my children, I voraciously ingested any and every sermon, book, or conversation about parenting. I did this because I only had one shot at it with each kid, and I loved my children, and knew that my limited knowledge and lack of grace fell way short of what my kids needed. I still made plenty of mistakes and apologized plenty of times, but I can say with utter certainty that the sermons, books, classes, and conversations that were rooted in gospel Truth changed the trajectory of my parenting, thus literally changing who my children are today. I encourage you to soak up Gospel parenting wisdom whenever and wherever you can find it. Start by joining me this weekend for part 2 of Parenting!